Exploring Different Basement Foundation Repair Techniques
A professional inspection is wise if your home’s foundation has minor cracks or settling. A professional can help determine the severity of the problem and recommend an effective repair solution.
Steel piers with winding sections can be driven into the ground to reach stable soil layers beneath unstable surface soil. They can stabilize bowing foundation walls and prevent further movement.
Underpinning involves extending the basement foundation downwards to more competent load-bearing soil layers. This process can increase the strength of a building’s foundation, protecting it from the damage that results when soil movements undermine the footings.
Homeowners often choose to underpin their buildings after a renovation or after realizing that soil properties weren’t considered during the original building construction. Underpinning is also used when a nearby excavation may threaten the existing foundations with collapse or when a decision is made to add a story to a structure, and the current basement isn’t deep enough.
Some of the most significant benefits of underpinning a basement include increased floor space, fewer signs of structural damage and a higher resale value. When considering renovations, homeowners should explore underpinning as a solution to fortify their property. In addition, underpinning can improve a basement’s energy efficiency by creating more usable living space.
Several methods exist for underpinning a basement, including resistance and helical piers. Resistance piers use heavy-duty steel rods driven into the ground until they hit competent load-bearing soil. They are then lifted hydraulically to raise the foundation. Helix piers, on the other hand, have threaded shafts that look like giant corkscrews. They work the same way as resistance piers but have a greater capacity because they don’t rely on skin friction to lift the basement. The screw pile and bracket method is another alternative to underpinning with helical piers, as it can be installed by two people using a mini excavator rather than requiring the larger equipment necessary for other forms of underpinning.
Some homeowners will find that their foundation is sinking. Often, this happens because the concrete was poured on dirt that wasn’t compacted enough before construction, or changes in soil pressure can cause it.
This problem is easy to fix with a technique known as slab jacking or mud jacking. This method involves drilling access holes in the foundation, then pumping stable material under the structure. A mixture of fly ash, cement and sand is typically used, but high-density polyurethane foam is also available. This can lift the foundation back to its original position.
The key is to catch the problem before it worsens because sagging foundations lead to other serious structural issues in the home. That’s why having a professional inspect the damage as soon as you notice it is important.
Slab jacking is a quick, inexpensive basement foundation repair to raise concrete slabs in many homes. But there are better options for foundations in good shape, and it is a short-term fix. If you’re considering this type of repair, talk to a foundation specialist first. They can tell you whether mud jacking is right for you or if you need more comprehensive repairs, such as helical piers. This method uses a series of steel rods with helixes on the end to be screwed into the ground, and it can lift even the most damaged concrete foundation.
Stair-Step Crack Repair
Vertical cracks in basement walls with a width of 1/8″ or less can be repaired with waterproofing. They don’t indicate structural damage but should be sealed to keep moisture out of the home and prevent water seepage.
Stair-step cracks in cinder block and brick foundation walls are non-structural and can be cured with resealing. These cracks often result from a shift in the blocks or bricks of a foundation and can be caused by expansive clay soil, frost damage, or damage from shrubs and trees that are too close to the wall.
These cracks are more serious than horizontal cracks and can lead to a flooded basement if left untreated. They indicate excessive movement and may indicate water intrusion into the basement from the surface or hydrostatic pressure pushing against foundation walls. These problems typically arise from poor drainage and gutter systems that fail to direct rainwater away from home, allowing it to pool around foundation walls where the heavy, saturated soil can exert extreme pressure against them.
In these situations, a foundation repair specialist can install push or helical piers to stabilize a foundation and lift bowing walls back into place, closing existing cracks. This approach can help protect a home’s value and prevent future structural damage.
Foundation Wall Repair
Within a year of construction, hairline cracks in basement walls are common near doors and windows. These are considered normal, as the concrete shrinks slightly during curing. Repairing them can be as simple as filling them with a caulk safe to use on concrete but, if you notice that the cracks are bigger, you might want to contact a foundation repair professional like the one you can click to see here.
Wider horizontal cracks in a foundation wall indicate heavy soil pressure on the wall and need to be repaired immediately. This pressure is caused by settling soil and can result in bowing or cave-ins.
The cracks may also admit water, which can cause moisture issues in the basement and crawl space. This can lead to rot, insect infestation and other structural problems. The cracks may also let in radon, a dangerous gas that can enter the living spaces of your home.
If you have horizontal cracks, an engineer can perform a structural analysis of the foundation and recommend the best repair option. The engineer may suggest installing an interior or exterior drain tile system consisting of a perforated pipe placed underneath the slab floor and a washed-stone bed. The pipe then runs to a sump pump, which pumps the water to the outside.
Carbon fiber is an engineering favorite, a super-strong material that can reinforce weakened basement walls.