Reasons for Foundation Problems
- Inadequately compacted soil. Your house may have been built on soil that wasn't prepared appropriately to bear the load of your home.
- Drainage problems. Ever wonder why you're always cautioned to make sure downspouts direct water away from your home's foundation? Here's why. Water that drains near the foundation causes soil to swell unevenly, thereby shifting part of the foundation but not all of it, which can lead to structural damage.
- Unsteady moisture. Periods of wet weather followed by extended periods of dry weather cause soil to expand and contract at uneven rates, which stresses your foundation.
- Roots from trees or other vegetation. The uneven distribution of moisture, caused by vegetation near your home, can create changes to your foundation.
- Erosion. If your home is built on a hill or other elevation, eroded soil can affect the stability of your foundation.
Take a walk around your house and see if you have any of these issues. Two or more may point to a foundation problem. The only way to know for sure is to contact a structural engineer or foundation repair expert.
- Do you have any cracks in your walls? Vertical cracks are usually signs of settling, but horizontal or perpendicular cracks are cause for concern.
- Have you noticed any external cracked bricks or foundation, or bricks that don't line up?
- Are there any cracks, slopes or bulges in your floors?
- How about your doors and windows? Do any of them stick, or are any crooked? Many homeowners notice this when they have energy audits performed because a misaligned door or window can let in cold and heat.
- Has your foundation separated from the rest of your house? Okay, this one seems obvious, but if you haven't looked or if bushes cover your foundation, you may be surprised to discover this.
- Have you had problems with gas or water lines? Foundation shifting can cause them to bend or loosen.
Foundation problems can reduce the value of your house, raise your utility bills, create trip hazards, and interfere with electric, gas and water, causing potential safety issues. It's important to have a correct diagnosis of your foundation problem so that it can be repaired appropriately, thereby helping you avoid increasingly serious problems in the future.
There are two basic courses of action for foundation repair:
- Slabjacking. Also know as mudjacking, slabjacking is most commonly used on concrete slabs, sidewalks, driveways and swimming pool decks. It involves pumping a cement grout into a series of holes drilled in your slab. This grout hardens into a concrete mass, helping to bring the slab back to its proper grade and reinforcing the sub-soil on which the slab rests.
- Piering. Piering is a type of underpinning, which is a term that includes various methods used to provide additional support to your foundation. In piering, a mechanical jack is submerged under the subsoil, which them lifts the foundation back to grade and provides ongoing support. The two main piering options, push piers (which are like huge pipes) and helical piers (which are like large screws), are installed deep enough to withstand fluctuations in soil moisture levels.