You searched for a perfect place to settle in and found a lovely house in a quiet neighborhood. You’ve got the money, you bought it, and after the first year passed by, you’ve discovered minor signs that the house foundation is damaged. What now?
It is estimated that around 25% of all houses in the US have problems with their foundation.
Although it sounds pretty alarming, worry not. Foundation repair is an option to recover your house’s base and structural integrity.
But first, why is it essential for a house to have a strong foundation?
Importance of a Strong Foundation
The strength of any building is in its foundation. It holds the structure and keeps it standing.
We can divide its importance into three essential roles. The first one is that the foundation bears an entire load of a structure above it.
Secondly, a well-built and solid foundation protects buildings and their residents from natural calamities such as earthquakes, floods, and vigorous winds.
The third vital role must be designed and constructed to keep the ground moisture from dripping into the structure and weakening its core.
Engineers agree that the foundation must be strong enough to withstand the “dead” and “live” load. Dead load refers to the heaviness of the basic structure, whereas the live load is the weight of the people and their items.
Lousy-built foundations can devastate the overall house structure and potentially harm its residents.
Signs and the Cause of Foundation Problems
The first real foundation repair step is determining if your home has a foundation issue.
New buildings have foundational issues that will settle over time. Often that is due to the house settling. House settling is a process where soil underneath the house gradually expands and contracts to depend on seasonal change.
However, if you have a house over five years old and you are still determining whether it is house settling or foundational issues, we bring you a few common signs that ought to make you decide.
They can either be exterior or interior.
Exterior Issues Signs
- Cracks showing on wall surfaces
- Visible rotation and/or wall movement
- Bricks showing cracks
- Cracks showing on the foundation itself
- Visible separation alongside edges of doors and windows
Interior Issues Signs
- Flooring showing cracks
- Visible cracks on wall surfaces
- Visual separation alongside edges of doors
- Uneven sagging and/or flooring
- Misaligned doors and windows
Cause of Foundation issues
Isolated, any of the abovementioned issues need more substantial evidence to reveal that your house has foundation problems. But if you have identified several of those issues, it is a good indication that your home needs a thorough inspection.
But what causes the foundation to become weak and unsafe?
Water is one of the most significant factors that impact the foundation. Moisture found in the soil is often the prime suspect for structural problems.
Water in the soil can cause the foundation to shrink or swell, creating movement and damaging the structure.
However, besides moisture and water, there are still other possible causes for damage:
- House is built on expansive clay, which delivers more movement and corresponding damage
- Unevenly built foundation
- Improperly compacted soil before the foundation was laid
- Plumbing problems in the vicinity or under your house
- Tree roots are growing underneath or near your home
- Natural calamities, such as earthquakes or floods, compromise the soil’s form
Now that we know the common signs and how the foundation loses its integrity, it is time to delve into foundation repair.
Foundation Repair is Vital
To put it in simpler terms, it means a planned repair of your foundation by installing supports underneath your house. Then your foundation is elevated to its original position and secured.
In other words, it stabilizes and fixes your foundation to its original state, bringing your home to a working condition.
You must select the proper method to help with the foundation repair issues. The appropriate repair method depends on several elements: soil type, external climate, damage extent, etc.
Four foundation repair methods are commonly used, which you can pick depending on your issue.
The first one is the use of sealant solutions. Hydraulic cement, epoxy, or polyethylene often offer a fast and long-term solution.
If the foundation has visible minor fissures, the best way is to use masonry sealant. This sealant covers the entire surface, waterproofing it and preventing further damage. This method is often used for small cracks alongside the wall surface and can prevent further damage.
Slab Leveling Method
The slab leveling method is the best option for you when the house foundation is at risk of sinking or is irregular.
The concrete slab is lifted by drilling holes into the surface, and cement and proper sol are injected into those holes.
Piling or Piering Method
Piering is a method that uses a concrete or steel pier to realign the foundation. In the piling method, piles are used to graft the foundation.
Both of these methods are long-lasting and resistant approaches to fixing your foundation. However, steel piling is currently the most efficient to use as it provides an almost permanent solution.
If the roots are the source of your problems, you should opt for the soil modification method. In this method, the substrate in the soil is made more durable and stable. The voids in the earth are filled with chemicals to create more compact and stiffer soil.
However, this method is essential to have a soil expert that will test the soil, and this method is one of the most expensive.
A home foundation is one of your home’s most essential parts. It carries the whole structure and protects its residents.
If the foundation is uneven or has sunk over time due to soil erosion, it can devastate your home.
It is essential to check your foundation for any irregularities. If you have doubts that your foundation has issues, you should contact an expert and conduct one of the methods mentioned above.