If you have found a crack in your home’s foundation, you may be concerned about your options. Not all foundation work involves extensive excavation. In fact, depending on where in the country you live, there are several different methods of foundation repair. Foundation cracks are caused by soil that has settled unevenly, typically because of moisture issues near a home’s foundation. A good foundation repair contractor will take into account the soil problems specific to your home to determine the best solution.

Addressing Drainage Issues

If your home has drainage problems that have either caused or contributed to the foundation problem, the drainage system will need to be addressed first. Keep your gutters clean throughout the year, and make sure that the downspouts are clear and arranged to carry water away from your home’s foundation. Proper grading of the soil around the foundation is important, too—most sources recommend a minimum grade of six inches for every ten feet of ground from the foundation wall. As an additional safeguard, a French drain system can be installed to redirect water that sinks into the ground. If drainage problems aren’t corrected, the lifespan of any foundation repairs will likely be shortened.

Fixing the Foundation

stack of concrete blocks and toolsFoundation solutions vary depending on the types of issues and their severity. Your location, your home’s construction, and the type of problem at hand will dictate which solution will work best. Below is a list of possible fixes your foundation contractor might discuss with you.

Braces. If the foundation walls are bowing inward, the best plan of attack may be to install braces. Braces help support a bowing wall by attaching to the floor and the overhead floor joist to prevent the wall from moving any more than it already has. Interior wall braces vary in material and price. Older versions are made of wood and steel, but newer options are made from carbon fiber mesh.

Wall anchors. Another option for a bowing wall is a wall anchor. Functioning somewhat like a large bolt or screw, wall anchors use a horizontal rod to close the space between a metal plate on the inside of the wall and one on the outside. Keep in mind that walls bowing out more than three inches will most likely not be able to be straightened completely.

Additional concrete. If part of the foundation has washed away or eroded, your contractor may be able to pour additional concrete to replace and shore up the damaged section.

Helical piers or steel posts. If your home’s foundation hasn’t bowed or eroded, but there is still evidence of a problem, the solution may be to install helical piers or steel posts underneath the house, depending on the problem at hand and the type of soil your home was built on. These methods of underpinning can help correct problems with a slab foundation and can also raise and support load-bearing walls.

Discovering that your house has a foundation problem is not something that any homeowner ever hopes for, but if it happens to you, don’t immediately assume that your house is going to collapse around you. Most foundation problems can be fixed. If you suspect that your house has a foundation issue, consult a structural engineer, who will be able to evaluate the problem objectively and make recommendations for the best course of action. Foundation repair typically represents a significant financial expense, but a sturdy foundation is well worth it for a safe home and your own peace of mind.

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