Methods for Foundation Crack Repair (Homeowner’s Guide)
What Causes Foundation Crack Problems?
Not all foundation cracks are big enough to be a problem. Foundation cracks are often caused by the lack of support that the foundation receives. Cracks that are ¼ inch or less in width and depth do not require any special treatment unless they happen over a door threshold. If the crack is wider than ¼ inch, it may be the sign of a structural problem with your home. According to Home Advisor, the common forces that cause foundation damage are;
- Soil- the repeated contraction and expansion caused by temperature fluctuation can weaken the foundation and cause damage.
- Water- this is usually as a result of an improper drainage, plumbing leaks, soil shrinkage and an improperly water proofed foundation can let water into the foundation thereby causing a crack
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How to Find a Crack Before it Becomes a Problem?
There are four proven techniques to find out whether you have a foundation problem;
- Inspect for drafts in the winter when your furnace is on, and in the summer when the air-conditioner is on. Drafts mean that there is an opening that needs to be sealed.
- Look for cracks in the concrete that are less than 1/ 8 inch thick.
- Look for cracks that are higher up in the walls, where they are most likely to do the most damage.
- Use a glass door to check any cracks on your basement door frame including at the top of the door frame.
If you have foundation cracks, watch out for these common problems.
- Foundation crack that goes around the perimeter of the basement, usually it means your foundation is sunken from underneath from water leakage. It is recommended to hire a professional foundation repair company to have a professional foundation contractor to level it backup and repair any cracks in the process. They will typically use a pressure-treated wood frame and pour a concrete wall around the perimeter of your house, providing a proper support for your home’s foundation.
- Cracks in the concrete floor or wall, this is not a repairable problem, the damaged section needs to be jackhammered out and replaced. These are very expensive problems for homeowners.
- Cracks around door frames are common in new construction when the door is opened and closed frequently during construction. They can be repaired with epoxy or caulk, or by placing reinforcing steel in the crack.
How Can You Tell If a Crack is Structural?
If the crack in your foundation is in your outer walls, then it is likely that they are related to soil movement. This type of crack is typically pretty easy to spot. If the cracks are in your basement door frames, it is likely that they are related to soil movement, but they might be related to movement in your home’s foundation as well. If the cracks are in the bottom of your basement wall, then it is likely that they have been caused by water leakage from a broken pipe or tree root issue.
How Do You Know if a Foundation Crack is Serious?
The first and most important thing to know is if your home is sinking. If you notice cracks appearing on the walls of your basement, the foundation is very likely to be settling and causing damage to the walls and floor of your home. If you experience cracks appearing on your basement door frames, another sign that your foundation may be settling is if there are cracks around the door frames of your home’s exterior doors. Cracks that appear on the top of your basement floor are especially dangerous. These cracks are found in the concrete that the earth is pressed against, and they indicate that there is a large amount of stress on your home’s foundation. The following are the methods of repairing foundation cracks;
This is the most expensive and invasive of all foundation repair techniques, and can cost upwards of $120,000. This method is often chosen when houses are sitting on weak soil or soft soil with poor bearing capacity. A steel frame is built up from the ground to a depth that spans the length of a foundation wall. This frame then takes on a weight that’s equivalent to the settled house, while new columns are installed under your home’s slab.
A simple self-supporting scaffolding system is then constructed around the frame to protect it from unwanted damage or collapse. The home’s foundation walls are then dismantled and the topsoil replaced in a process that’s akin to a demolition. Foundation repairs can take upwards of a year, and can include multi-story support pillars, steel beams, and soil layers.
Shimming Using Supplemental Piers
This is a cost-effective approach that’s often used to remedy foundation problems. If your home is sitting on poor soil or causes problems such as sinking or cracking, you may be able to get away with using shimming techniques. Small piers are installed along the perimeter of your home to help stabilize both sides of the wall before it’s backfilled and leveled. There are several benefits to using this technique, including the fact that it doesn’t require foundation repair methods like underpinning.
Shimming can be a cheap and easy solution. Shimming using existing piers doesn’t require you to rip up your concrete foundation, making it a low-cost repair method. Foundation repairs can be costly, but if you use shimming techniques, the cost will be much lower. The majority of shimming projects are completed in less than 12 months. This is because shim crews only need to remove the existing piers and fill in around them, which can be done quickly and at a relatively low cost. You don’t need to remove your existing foundation wall for this method to work.
This is a less costly foundation crack repair method, but it’s not as effective as some of the others.In order for this foundation repair method to work, your house must be sitting on a good load-bearing soil. Many homebuyers choose to explore this route because it’s an inexpensive solution. If you want to avoid lengthy foundation repair processes like underpinning, shimming using existing piers can be a great option.
Similar to foundation repair methods like underpinning, mudjacking involves excavating old concrete blocks and replacing them with new ones. A mudjacking project can cost upwards of $100,000. If your house is sitting on poor soil or has compaction issues, this method could be a feasible solution if you’re willing to make the necessary storage space.
Stabilizing Foundation Soil
Stabilizing your foundation soil can be an inexpensive DIY project. Your home’s foundation may be damaged, but if you can fix it, you could save a substantial amount of money. This foundation repair method requires the removal of your home’s exterior walls and replacing them with new ones. If you own a historic house, this technique might be the way to go.