Foundation Repair 101 | All You Need To Know

Finding cracks on the roof or wall is a nightmare for every homeowner. But do you know all about the different repair options available?

Most of the time, people ignore the initial signs of foundation damage. It’s only when visible imperfections, leakages, and other problems take over that you realize how serious the issue is. That said, the type of repair your structure needs also depends on several factors, so it’s not exactly one procedure that covers everything.

Basically, the soil type, foundation build, climate, and other relevant parameters are taken into account before deciding the best course of action. While you should get in touch with an expert to discuss your repair options, it’s best to have more insight into the different processes.

That’s why we’re here to share all the information you need to learn about different types of foundation repair. But before we start, let’s first discuss what leads to foundation damage.

Foundation Repair 101

What Causes Foundation Damage?

More often than not, any damage in the foundation is caused by water. Usually, movements occur within the foundation when underlying soil components begin to shrink or swell due to moisture. Other than that, certain structural issues may surface when the area surrounding the foundation has insufficient drainage facilities.

Additionally, when there’s a plumbing issue underneath the base or when the structure is exposed to natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, or droughts, you can find signs of foundation damage. Lastly, high clay content in soil can also compromise the structural integrity of an establishment.

Effects Of Foundation Damage

Foundation damage, when left unchecked, can have some serious consequences. Some of the major effects of foundation damage include infrastructural issues, loss of property value, malfunctioning equipment, multiple leaks, etc. Besides, any form of severe foundation damage can render a house unsafe, and as such, residents may have to relocate if the building is on the verge of collapse.

Common Signs Of Foundation Damage

  • Cracked walls
  • Cracked floors
  • Cracked bricks
  • Uneven or bulging floors
  • Bulging or heavy walls
  • Gaps between walls and window frame
  • Misaligned or bent windows and doors
  • Jammed windows and doors

What Exactly Is Foundation Repair?

Foundation repair is a blanket term that encompasses a number of corrective procedures. However, not all structural damages can be repaired, and hence, it ultimately depends on the condition of the building.

That said, foundation repair constitutes restoration of the core structure to ensure durability and strength. These repairs are often necessary when the concrete is in distress, or the building itself is damaged.

Types Of Foundation Repair

The different repair options you have are determined by geographical factors and site conditions, among other things. Therefore, after a thorough diagnosis of the damage, a foundation repair expert undertakes the most effective procedure.

So, here’s a list of the common foundation repair processes you can look into.

  1. Sealants and Masonry Patches


Not all damages are extensive. For instance, if you have minor cracks on your foundation wall, you can fix it with a waterproof masonry sealer. Depending on how long or deep the crack is, patching up with a sealer is sometimes enough to solve the problem.

However, for this method to work, spotting and sealing the fissures early on is paramount. So, it’s best to keep an eye out for any minor slits on the wall so you can act proactively. Plus, this preemptive measure will save you from costly repairs and water damage in the future.

Some commonly used sealers are epoxies, hydraulic cement, polyurethane, vinyl concrete, and silicone. That being said, the ideal formulation depends on the type and severity of the crack.

Important Note: Foundation issues are common in certain parts of the US where the soil has an expansive nature, i.e., it behaves like a sponge. Basically, the soil swells when it absorbs water and shrinks when it loses it.

This slow yet continuous expansion and contraction result in movements within your foundation, causing it to crack under pressure. Ideally, a preventive watering regime can reduce foundation movement, keeping it intact for much longer.

  1. Slab Jacking


As the name suggests, slab jacking is a technique where the sinking or uneven concrete is lifted to restore structural balance. This method is alternatively known as concrete lifting, mudjacking, and slab leveling. So, if you need to raise your walkway, driveway, porch, garage floor, deck, or steps, you can rely on this repair process to do the trick.

Slab foundations may tilt or sink when the underlying soil shifts or collapses. When faced with such an issue, it’s best to get in touch with a professional who’s aware of the local soil conditions. Usually, these experts have the right equipment to restore a settling home foundation.

However, if you’re wondering what the process entails, then let’s discuss it right away. Initially, 2” holes are drilled into the concrete foundation to access the sunken places underneath. After that, a reinforcing solution comprising soil, cement, and other components, is injected through the hole until the gap is filled.

Gradually, when the solution expands, the sunken slab moves back into its original position. An alternative solution to slab jacking is polyurethane injection. Like in the concrete lifting process, polyurethane is applied through the holes to fill in the gaps. The only difference between the two methods comes down to the reinforcing component injected.

Both these slab lifting techniques serve the same purpose and work well on small-scale repairs. However, you should know that these are temporary fixes, and you may have to repeat the process every few years.

This is mainly because the injected solution is heavy and induces soil compression underneath the slab. While polyurethane is comparatively lighter and tends to last longer, the process is not available in all places.

  1. Piling

Concrete piers, bell bottom piers, pressed pilings, and steel piers are common forms of piling used to repair foundations. These procedures are long-term solutions to structural issues and do a better job of restoring the foundation level than slab jacking.

  • Pressed Concrete Pilings


Pressed concrete pilings are reliable and sturdy foundation piers, designed for both internal and external repairs. They function perfectly on slab foundations as well as pier and beam houses. To ensure proper installation, pressed concrete piers are driven deep inside the ground.

This, in turn, provides stability, preventing any sinkage. Usually, the structure is inserted about 12 ft deep to achieve the best outcome.

  • Belled Concrete Piers


Bell bottom piers have a similar installation process as poured/drilled piers. Basically, these are called so because of the bell-shaped foot at the bottom of the pier. This base structure is specially designed to facilitate wider support to the pier.

Bell bottom piers, like their poured concrete counterparts, are built by pouring concrete into a hole; followed by putting a steel shaft into the wet concrete.

  • Poured Concrete Piers


In case of residential repairs, poured concrete piers are inserted about 10 ft into the ground, and they sometimes take more than a week for the leveling to cure. Other than that, the installation time for this type of concrete piling is significantly more than pressed pilings.

This is mainly because the latter uses cured, precast concrete segments, facilitating a shorter downtime.

  • Steel Piers


Experts highly recommend steel piers as they are permanent solutions to foundation damage. Long story short, they are durable and can be driven about 100 ft deep, providing unparalleled stability to your foundation. Since the piers can reach an incredible depth, it prevents movement even in expansive soil, as the supporting structuring is driven right down to bedrock.

  • Helical Steel Piers


Helical piers, also commonly known as anchors, are suitable for fixing lightweight slab and pier and beam foundations. However, these structures are not only used for restoration, but they are also installed to strengthen new bases.

Usually, helical piers are the last option, which is used when every other method is no longer a possibility. As for its installation, the structures are threaded into the ground, and as such, they have a certain load-bearing capacity. Basically, the foundation’s weight is supported by piers, which in turn is sustained by the load-bearing soil.

Final Words

That’s all from us!

We hope this guide could provide you with all the necessary information on foundation repair. However, before deciding on a course of action, consult with an expert, and determine what will work best for your foundation.

As you already know, some repairs are temporary, while others are long-term. That said, the type of repair your foundation needs also depends on the degree of damage. While it’s more convenient to look for permanent options, be sure to work out your budget and the total installation time.

On that note, we’d like to take your leave. Till next time!

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