If you’re a homeowner, you may not pay much attention to the foundation of your house, but you should. Foundation problems can crop up almost without notice, and foundation repair difficulty can run the gamut from simple to complex. Keeping an eye on the condition of your foundation and doing repairs as needed can help keep little problems from becoming big ones. Here are five reasons you might require repairs to your foundation:
Reason number one: Small cracks
Most foundations are made of concrete, and concrete naturally shrinks as it cures. This can lead to small cracks, usually no more than a quarter of an inch wide. Repairing these cracks as soon as possible is necessary both cosmetically and to prevent rainwater and ground moisture from seeping through. In most cases, you should be able to do this foundation repair yourself with epoxy putty or paintable silicone caulk. Click here to find out more common foundation repairs caused by soil
Reason number two: Bigger cracks
Cracks that are bigger than a quarter of an inch either horizontally or vertically, or stair-step cracks that occur in blocks or bricks, can be more serious than the small cracks discussed previously. These foundation problems can sometimes be handled simply by using epoxy putty to fill them, or by hiring a contractor to inject epoxy into them. This will help stop water from seeping into your foundation.
Many foundation cracks occur because water has accumulated in the soil around the foundation; that causes the soil to expand and puts pressure on the walls, causing cracks. Make sure gutters and downspouts are working properly, and that the soil around the foundation is graded properly; ideally, the slope should be at least 6 inches for every 10 feet on horizontal basis. You can also hire a foundation contractor to check and make sure your perimeter drain system is not blocked. If it is, water will again pool in the surrounding soil and put pressure on the foundation walls. The contractor should be able to remedy the situation.
Reason number three: Severe cracks
This is where foundation repair and foundation problems get really serious. If your foundation is severely cracked, it needs to be reinforced so that it doesn’t deteriorate further. If you’re experienced, you can do this yourself by placing steel and wood braces against the wall at intervals; they attach to overhead joists and the floor, preventing further problems. They will protrude into the basement area about half a foot, however. You can also do this type of foundation repair by spreading vertical strips of epoxy and pressing carbon fiber mesh on the epoxy; this has the effect of locking the wall in place so that it can’t crack further.
Reason number four: Buckling
If the walls have actually deteriorated beyond simple cracking and are actually buckling or bowing is greater than about three inches, you will probably need to excavate the part of the foundation that’s affected and rebuild it, a cost of about $30,000-$40,000.
Reason number five: Washed out areas
If areas of soil have actually washed out along the perimeter such that the foundation is now at risk, you may be able to reinforce it with more concrete; in some cases, that section of the foundation may need to be re-poured and then “attached” to the existing foundation with epoxy and rebar.