Is It Possible (And Expensive) To Repair The Foundations Of Your Home?
There are no two ways about it if you have some foundation problems this can soon lead to some serious structural damage and some hugely expensive repairs to the rest of your home as a result.
If you have a concrete basement foundation and you believe that it needs some repairs, the good news is that there are some ways to get these repairs done without having to almost completely rebuild your home.
The first thing you need to do is identify whether you have any cracks or structural damage that you need to urgently investigate further, then you will need to have a plan to get the necessary repairs done before the situation gets any worse
Here are some pointers on how to identify problems with your foundations and get them repaired.
Understanding what causes damage
The vast majority of structural damage issues can be summarized as being caused by one major villain, water.
Water is pervasive and can be extremely damaging to the structural integrity of your property if moisture is allowed to wreak havoc by causing the sort of swelling and shrinkage that causes such damaging movement beneath your foundation.
There are certain scenarios where your property may prove to be more vulnerable to foundation problems than others.
If your home was constructed on top of expansive clay or the fill soils were not properly compacted, these are two regular issues that lead to foundation problems.
Other circumstances include when it is discovered that the area surrounding your foundation does not have adequate drainage, or it could be that tree roots have been allowed to grow too close to your home, causing damaging movement.
The level of clay content in your soil is often a big clue, as properties with a higher level of clay are more likely to suffer significant movement in comparison to areas where the clay content is noticeably lower.
What should be understood about this scenario is that if the soil swells evenly across the whole of your foundation it should not create a problem, it is when only a certain part of the foundation settles that you create the unevenness that leads to cracks and other damage.
Spotting the vital signs of a problem
It is a good idea to carry out regular inspections to check for damage, especially if you live in an area where there is known susceptibility to foundation damage.
When you walk around the outside of your property there are a few telltale signs that you need to look for.
You notice that some of your bricks have become cracked
There is obvious separation occurring around exterior doors, walls, and windows
Moldings have become displaced for no obvious reason
You can see that the foundation is broken or cracked in places
Wall rotation is apparent
There are also some warning signs to heed inside your property.
It is clear that internal doors and windows are no longer properly aligned as they used to be
Cacks are starting to appear in your flooring
Some of your floors have become uneven
Finding that your doors or windows don’t shut anymore is the sort of issue that should prompt you to investigate further and identify the cause.
If you have had work done or your home has been recently built there will be some settlement that can cause cracks, but this is different to foundation cracks and it is easy to identify which one it is.
You will find that settlement cracks are invariably traveling in a vertical direction, whereas foundation cracks are horizontal.
Hairline cracks are often a product of normal foundation settlement and should not give you cause for concern, however, if the crack is at least an eighth of an inch or larger, that could be indicative of a foundation problem.
Another serious warning sign that warrants your immediate attention is when you notice a horizontal or jagged crack that is running at 45-degrees. If you have this level of damage it may require professional intervention to resolve the problem.
Fixing your foundation
Trying to fix foundation problems is not really a task that should be tackled by the average DIY enthusiast with limited building skills, especially when you consider that you are dealing with an area that is designed to support your entire home.
It is often the best policy to call in a professional with in-depth knowledge of what to look for and how to fix the problem, although there are some things you could do yourself if you feel comfortable with the task.
The suggestion would be to get a professional opinion anyway, so that you know exactly what you are dealing with, even though this will cost you for their services, and then maybe do some of the groundwork if you are looking to save on costs and know exactly what you are doing.
The starting point would be to dig carefully around the foundation outside of your home where the cracks have appeared.
After that, you will need to insert concrete pilings, which is done by running a cable down to the bottom of the hole that you have dug and then threading several of the pilings down the cable, before placing a concrete cap over the top piling.
Lifting and back-filling the foundation
In order to lift the foundation, you will be required to place hydraulic jacks over the concrete cap so that you are able to gently lift the foundation back into its original setting.
It is normal procedure to then leave the foundation exposed for a few weeks to check that there is no further movement before back-filling the soil and fixing the crack to complete the job.
This is a simplified description of what’s involved to fix your foundation problem and when you consider how important this part of your house is you might decide that the best course of action is to get the work done by a professional.
Whatever you do, it is advisable to act quickly when you notice cracks or movement that suggest you have a problem with your foundation.