Tips & Advice
What are the different types of foundation repair methods?
There are several methods of foundation repair, based on the problem.
- Sealants and masonry patches can be used for minor foundation cracks and imperfections.
- Slab jacking is a process used for sunken foundations that raises the sinking foundation back to normal by pumping a fill material below the foundation to regain its original position. This method, as laborious as it sounds, can actually be done quickly and efficiently.
- The most severe form of foundation repair is piering, or piling, in which steel or cement piers or pilings are driven through the foundation into the ground to correct and re-stabilize the foundation. In steel-pressed piling technique, steel rods or beams are driven into the ground via a hydraulic ram to the foundation back to its normal position. In concrete-pressed piling, holes are drilled deep and filled with reinforcement materials. This is a cheaper solution, but only a short-term one.
How can foundation problems be prevented?
There are a few ways that can help decrease chances for foundation problems, and they are all water-related.
- Install quality gutters around your roof with downspouts that take the water at least 3-5 feet away from the foundation. This can prevent water from pooling around your foundation.
- Address the soil grade in your yard. Your soil type and the slope of the land are major factors in water retention and pooling. Be aware of trees and plants that affect moisture levels in the soil adjacent to the foundation. In drought conditions, consider a soaker hose around the perimeter to prevent the soil, particularly clay soil, from drying, shrinking and cracking.
- Check all plumbing and drainage properties regularly for leaks. Consider a French drain, which is an underground trench system where excess water is collected and removed.
How can you tell if a foundation has problems?
There are several signs you may have foundation problems. If your foundation is visible (you have a basement or crawlspace foundation) there will be visible evidence of cracking or crumbling. If your walls are warped, or the floor slopes, those are major indicators you foundation is sinking. If doors are hard to open or close, or get stuck, this may be a foundation problem (but could also just be a door frame issue, so don’t freak out yet). Cracks on the walls or on floor tiles are a sign. Water in the basement or crawlspace can be a definite danger sign. Warped walls or gaps between the walls and ceiling should be cause for concern. Having any of these symptoms (outside of the blatant visual evidence of a cracked or crumbling foundation) might be a warning sign, but is not necessarily proof of foundation problems. However, if you do have symptoms, you would be wise to have an inspection done. Problems like that only get worse.
What are the causes of foundation damage?
Water is the No. 1 source of foundation damage. Too much water can saturate the soil beneath your foundation, causing the soil to expand. Conversely, too little water can cause the soil to shrink. Both situations affect the soil level of your foundation. As soil shrinks, foundations can sink, causing stress on them, which can lead to damage. Plumbing leaks are another primary source of problems. That leaking water changes the soil under you house, a problem you may not discover even exists until it’s too late. Poor drainage construction is another culprit. Water that pools up for long periods wreaks havoc on the soil levels. Poor soil preparation prior to pouring the foundation can be problematic. Different soil types require different preparation. A poorly constructed foundation is another potential hazard. Far and away, water is what caused the most problems--too much or too little.
Do foundation contractors offer warranties?
Not all foundations contractors offer warranties, but the one you hire should. Foundation repair is a critical element in the health and stability of your home, and can be very expensive--so why would you not get a warranty? If for some reason the contractor doesn’t warranty their work, move on immediately.
What are the different types of foundations?
The three most common types of house foundations in the United States are: basement, crawlspace and slab.
- Basement foundations are when a basement is the primary space between the house and the soil. The house rests on top of the basement.
- Crawlspace foundation is similar to a basement-style foundation, but the crawlspace is much shorter than a basement and in not meant to be turned into an actual room. The house sits on top of the crawlspace, which is designed simply to elevate the house off the ground and allow circulation.
- Slab foundations are foundations built directly on top of the soil with the house sitting directly on top, with no space in between.
What are the things to look for in a foundation contractor?
There are several ways to make sure your contractor is legitimate. First, you can ask around for referrals. Friends will usually steer you right. You can look up online reviews and always check with the Better Business Bureau. Find out if the company offers warranties on their work – in writing. If they don’t, this should be a deal breaker. You can also check on their licenses, credentials and affiliations, which can give you a good idea of their experience and standing in the field. Confirm their operating procedures: do they do appropriate background checks on their employees that will be working in and around your house? Do they clean up the site daily? Have they effectively diagnosed your problem and proposed an effective solution?
Do foundation contractors provide free repair estimates?
Most businesses will provide free estimates of their services for a job, but do not confuse an estimate with diagnosing the problem. Complicated issues, such as foundation inspection, might require actual labor. Every contractor is different, but most credible vendors provide free estimates for their work. If they won’t, someone else will, so you can ask another service provider. However, it is critical to get the proper inspection and diagnosis of your situation, and, if it is going to be a labor-intensive endeavor, you will probably have to pay. Get referrals in your area to get a better understanding of a typical foundation inspection and what costs may be involved.
How long does a typical foundation repair take?
Minor damages can potentially be repaired in a few hours or days, while major fixes can take weeks. It is imperative to get your foundation inspected as soon as possible to determine the problem, get a diagnosis for a fix, and then you can determine the length of time.
How long does a typical foundation repair take?
Foundation issues, such as settlement, can be very costly, but not all issues mean a tear down is the solution. There aren’t fixed costs for foundation repairs, and the cost is typically based on the amount of work needing to be done. Minor cracks in a foundation can be handled for as low as about $500, and prices go up from there. Major settlement issues might require hydraulic piers (steel reinforcements that are driven through the foundation into the soil to correct foundation settlement issues). That’s could cost a minimum of $10,000 or more. The best way to handle foundation issues is to get estimates on the problem as soon as possible. For anything less than minor issues, you could be looking at a major construction situation and might need to move out while repairs are done. Foundation issues won’t magically go away and can affect plumbing, pipes, and, eventually, the structure of the house.