If you have a sinking feeling in your gut every time it rains, if the walls of your home seem to be constantly bulging, or if cracks have started to appear in the foundation, it might be time for some home foundation repair.
Foundation repairs are something that should be done by a professional. However, if you're doing it yourself, there are certain steps to take to ensure the repair is successful.
But before you panic and call a professional foundation repair contractor, try these tips to see if you can fix the problem yourself.
Is the Crack Alarming or Normal?
Foundation cracks are a very common problem for homeowners, and knowing how to tell the difference between them can help you prevent future problems. Filling these cracks may be a way to overcome this in an early stage. Most foundation cracks begin as tiny fissures that form beneath your home's surface when it settles over time- this is natural.
However, some sizes may be more serious than others, so make sure not just any old crinkle gets attention from an expert builder or repair person. You may have seen shrinkage cracks in newer homes - they're generally not a cause for concern.
The concrete foundation will slowly dry and crack because of water evaporation over time, which causes the walls to pull apart slightly at these locations where there was once cohesion between pieces primarily due to pressure rather than any focused force like an injection molder would put into their process during production.
Types of Cracks
These are the most common type of foundation crack and are caused by the weight of the house bearing down on the foundation walls(or basement walls). Over time, this pressure can cause the concrete walls to crack.
It is usually nothing to worry about if the cracks are less than a quarter-inch wide, but you should monitor them closely. If they start to widen, it could signify that your foundation is shifting.
When you have horizontal cracks on your foundation, it could indicate that there is something wrong with the integrity of its waterproofing.
This foundation failure usually occur due to heavy rain or flooding, which can cause pressure from outside to come into a foundation wall and cause them over time as they slowly begin dying out (caving).
Foundation movement is an inevitable part of life. But if you have a home with concrete block or brick foundations, stair-step cracks can be especially concerning because they flow diagonally from bottom to top in stages like steps on stairs.
These wave patterns cause your house's foundation(s) to shift vertically ever so slightly, leading to increased foundation settlement and permanent deformation, and even collapse altogether.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Repair a Home Foundation
Step 1: Know the Underlying Cause of the Problem
The first step to fixing your foundation is to figure out what is causing the problem. Is it due to poor drainage? Ground movement? A faulty waterproofing system? Once you know the cause, you can start planning your repairs.
If you cannot find the source of the problem, it is best to consult with a professional. It is essential to know exactly what you are dealing with to ensure a successful repair of this critical issue.
Step 2: Clean the Area
Once you have determined the cause of the problem, it is time to start preparing for repairs. This step is important because it will help you assess the damage and plan your repairs.
Step 3: Dig Around the Foundation
Digging a hole is the most effective way to fix cracks and foundation sinking. If you notice any signs that might indicate there's damage under your feet, start digging!
You should aim for an excavation depth that will reach all of those pesky problems spots, so they don't come back again soon after treatment - if ever at all (or ever).
The right machinery can make this process go much faster, too; just rent some equipment or use one-time services before buying permanent fixtures like pipes & buckets once everything has been laid in place accordingly from top-down to below the ground level.
Step 4: Insert Concrete Pilings or Steel Beams
After excavating the area around the foundation, it is time to start repairing the damage. One of the most common ways to repair a foundation is using concrete pilings or steel beams.
Concrete pilings are driven into the ground until they reach a solid layer of soil. The concrete then cures, and the piling becomes a permanent part of the foundation. Steel beams are placed similarly but are usually used for more extensive damage.
Step 5: Lift the Foundation
The most important step is to lift the foundation back to its original position. This can be done by using hydraulic jacks or a come-along. Once the foundation is lifted, you can start shoring up the repair with new concrete or other materials.
Step 6: Backfill the Excavation
Once the repairs are complete, it is time to fill in the excavation. This is important because it will help support the repair and prevent future problems.
Be sure to use clean fill dirt and compact it as you go. Once the excavation is filled, you can finish up by repairing any damage to the landscaping.
Step 7: Fix the Crack
In the steps above, no cracks should be ignored, and every single one of them needs to be filled before backfilling the excavation to avoid any water leakage or other problems that might occur in the future.
The best way to fix a crack is by using epoxy or polyurethane injections. These materials are injected into the cracks and expand as they cure, filling the entire crack.
Step 8: Waterproof the Foundation
Once the repairs are complete, it is important to waterproof the foundation. This will help prevent future foundation problems and extend the life of the repair.
There are many different ways to waterproof a foundation, but one of the most effective is to use a concrete sealer. Concrete sealers are applied to the surface of the concrete and form a waterproof barrier.
Step 9: Monitor the Repair
Once the repair is complete, it is important to monitor the area for any new problems. This can be done by regularly checking the foundation for hairline cracks or other signs of damage. If you notice any new problems, be sure to address them right away to avoid further damage.
In the article above, we discussed how to repair a foundation considering structural integrity.
We discussed the importance of assessing the damage and then digging around the foundation. Next, we inserted concrete pilings or steel beams to lift the foundation. Finally, we backfilled the excavation and applied a sealer to waterproof the foundation.
Please be aware that we always recommend hiring a professional for a job like this. We are not responsible of any inconveniences caused as a result of applying the steps detailed here.
We hope that this article has been helpful and that you can now repair your foundation yourself with little help of foundation contractor or structural engineer.
David is the lead content editor at RVA Paving Pros, a service for Richmond VA residents. In his spare time, David likes to travel, read about business and visit the finest italian restaurants in town!
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