Educate yourself about local soil and climate conditions, and find a foundation repair company that can explain the root causes of your problem. Ask them about cost-effective options such as concrete piles or tie back wall anchors.
Small cracks in your home’s foundation are a sign of trouble. If you neglect to have them repaired, they could grow.
1. Don’t Wait for Cracks to Grow
When a foundation issue is caught early, homeowners can save money by fixing it before it worsens. The longer a homeowner waits to have a professional inspect and repair the foundation, the more damage it causes to the house. That’s because the foundation is pushing against everything inside the home, including plumbing, walls, and floors. It also forces these things to move, which increases the cost of repair work.
Cracks are one of the most common signs that a foundation needs repair. Whether the cracks are horizontal or vertical, they may be a sign of structural movement and should be evaluated by an expert as soon as possible. This is especially true if the cracks have a zigzag pattern or show a change in color.
Aside from cracks, other warning signs of foundation issues include a basement that leaks frequently, doors and windows that are difficult to open and close, uneven floor levels, bowed walls, and wall separation from brick. In addition, soil conditions can contribute to a foundation’s problems. For instance, excessive moisture can cause the soil to swell, which puts pressure on foundation walls. This pressure is even greater if the soil is prone to settlement and moves in different directions at different times of the year due to seasonal weather changes.
Another common problem is poor drainage. This is often caused by downspouts and gutters that are clogged or aren’t properly directed away from the foundation. This can lead to puddles that form under the foundation and create hydrostatic pressure. In some cases, this can push against a foundation’s walls and force them to bow inward. To avoid this, a homeowner should set up a monthly or quarterly reminder to clean out downspouts and gutters and ensure they are directing water at least five feet away from the foundation. In addition, soil conditions can be improved by installing French drains and other landscaping solutions.
2. Don’t DIY
The foundation of your home is one of the most important structural components of the entire structure. Its strength and stability are key to keeping the rest of your home safe from weather, storms, pests, and other environmental hazards. Foundation problems can be serious, and they are not something you want to try to fix yourself. It is a project best left to a professional that can provide you with peace of mind that the repair will be done correctly and that the damage will not worsen over time.
It is important to remember that the longer a problem goes untreated, the worse it will become. Ignoring foundation damage can lead to major issues that may cost thousands of dollars in repairs or even more if water seepage occurs. Water damage in a basement or crawl space can cause wood rot and mold, which is much more costly to repair than a crack in the foundation.
There are a number of different reasons to avoid DIY foundation repair, but the most important is that you simply don’t have the knowledge or experience needed to do it. A professional foundation repair company can provide you with a full inspection of your foundation and recommend the most appropriate remedies for any problems. They can also give you a warranty on the repairs to ensure that they are long-lasting and that your foundation is stable.
For example, some foundation problems require that helical piers be installed under your house to anchor it to load-bearing soil or bedrock. This is a job that requires excavation and cannot be safely performed by a homeowner. Many DIY kits offer products that can be applied to foundation cracks, but these are only temporary solutions. A professional can install permanent products such as carbon fiber patches or helical wall anchors.
Mold and mildew are more than just a nuisance, as they can wreak havoc on the health of your family. They thrive in damp subterranean conditions, and can quickly spread from a crawl space or basement to living areas of the house. Mold and mildew can also be a source of odors, and the mold spores can make breathing difficult for children and elderly people.
3. Don’t Forget the Soil
The foundation of a house is only as strong as the soil it sits on. Different types of soil expand and contract depending on weather conditions and drainage. A home built on expansive clay soil, for example, will experience a significant settlement problem. This type of shift puts extreme stress and strain on the structure above, resulting in cracks, door and window problems, and other issues. A good repair specialist will perform a soil test to determine the best long-term solution for a particular situation.
A foundation constructed on concrete slabs, which are typically four to eight inches thick and rest directly on the ground, is more stable than a basement or crawl space foundation. It also is easier to fix than a basement or crawl space, since there are no openings that could be compromised by moisture or pests. However, a slab foundation is still susceptible to shifting and movement due to weather and soil conditions.
If a homeowner notices cracks in the exterior brickwork, problems opening or closing doors, gaps forming between the slab and the floor, or water intrusion during heavy rainfall, it is time to call for an inspection. Although these symptoms are not always an indication of a serious problem, it is best to have a professional take a look.
Trying to cover up a foundation problem with superficial short-term fixes can lead to bigger problems down the road. Patching drywall, shaving the tops or bottoms of doors to make them close, and shimming windows are only temporary solutions that mask the real problem and will eventually cause further damage.
It is also important to ensure that water is properly directed away from the foundation. Proper downspouts and gutters will help to ensure that the water doesn’t pond under the foundation or against the footings. This will prevent water from soaking into the ground and expanding the soil, which can put undue pressure on the foundation and cause it to sink or settle. If a downspout has been disconnected or clogged, it is essential to get it replaced immediately.
4. Hire a Professional
When you hire a professional foundation repair company, they are able to perform a thorough inspection. They will be able to identify the root of the problem and suggest the most effective solution. They will also be able to give you an estimate quickly. This is because they have teams of people that specialize in different aspects of the process and can work on it simultaneously. This will ensure that the job is completed as quickly and effectively as possible.
If you are concerned about the stability of your home, it is best to get it repaired as soon as possible. Waiting too long could lead to even more costly repairs in the future. If you are thinking about selling your house in the near future, it is especially important to take care of any problems with your foundation as soon as possible. This will make your home more attractive to potential buyers and can increase its value.
A good foundation repair contractor will provide a full evaluation of your home and offer a free, no-obligation estimate for their services. This will include an in-depth inspection of your home’s structure and the surrounding soil. They will also be able to answer any questions you may have. A quality contractor will also be able to communicate any schedule changes with you.
You should also be sure to ask the company for referrals, references, and project pictures. Then, ask the company about their warranty policy. Ideally, you should look for a company with a lifetime transferable warranty that is backed by an independent warranty trust. This will ensure that the warranty is valid even if the company goes out of business.
Taking the steps necessary to fix any damage caused by shifting soil or water is essential to maintaining your home’s safety and stability. When you do this, you can rest assured that your home will be safe and sound for years to come. A damaged foundation is a turnoff for potential buyers and will likely result in a low offer, so it is vital to fix these issues before listing your home.