Are you a homeowner asking how to fix a shifting house foundation? This information is vital, as foundation repairs can run into the thousands of dollars. In turn, fixing a damaged or shifting foundation quickly can mean avoiding otherwise unnecessary repair costs!
Only a foundation repair contractor near you can advise on needed fixes for your property. However, knowing what causes foundations to shift can help protect your structure and your wallet! Additionally, you might find this information helpful when shopping for a home. Also, discuss this information with a repair contractor so you make the right decisions when it comes to house foundation repair.
Not all foundations shift, settle, crack, or otherwise suffer damage! In turn, you don’t want to assume that a shifting foundation is somehow normal and expected. In truth, a homeowner can often prevent foundation shifting and settling by maintaining their home and property over the years.
First, note that excessive moisture in the soil is the number one culprit when it comes to a settling foundation. Moisture pushes against foundation concrete, risking cracks and other damage. Additionally, foundation concrete or piers and beams absorb that moisture, also risking cracks and weakening.
Also, note that a foundation relies on soil strength for its own stability. In turn, clay soil, sandy soil, or other poor-quality soil compositions might allow a foundation to shift and settle. Soil erosion can also mean not enough strength to support a home’s foundation and its weight.
Tree roots also risk foundation damage. As roots wrap themselves around that concrete, they keep growing and pushing against the foundation. In turn, that foundation might crack and chip and eventually sink and settle.
Additionally, as a foundation holds up a home’s weight, adding to that weight without strengthening the foundation often means shifting. Imagine trying to continuously stack excessive weight on a wood table. Eventually that weight will become too much for the wood and it will crack. In the same way, adding another story or sunroom without foundation bracing can mean cracking and sinking.
Lastly, consider that poor-quality foundation installation and interior moisture levels also risk eventual damage. Flooding or allowing standing water in the basement, for example, can soften foundation concrete. Trapped moisture in a crawlspace also means pier and beam damage. These issues all risk weakening and resultant sinking.
Now that you know the basics of foundation damage, you might better understand how to keep that foundation from shifting. Consider some tips for ensuring a strong, stable foundation under your home and avoiding unnecessary damage.
Homeowners can often fix minor, hairline cracks on their own. For these repairs, use masonry caulk or materials designed for concrete. You can inject these epoxies into the crack and then smooth them over with a putty knife. Lastly, cover them with acrylic paint or one meant for basements.
Also, homeowners can often address minor drainage problems around their property. One method is with a French drain system, which you can buy at any home improvement store. Two, use the back of a rake and create an even grade away from the house to a drain.
Additionally, ensure there are no leaks from underground sprinklers or plumbing pipes. Keeping these in good condition helps reduce the risk of foundation water damage. Also, apply waterproof paints and coatings to exposed foundation concrete. These simple steps help keep a foundation in good repair.
Foundation concrete tends to settle long after it’s installed! Concrete often takes a year to cure completely so that you might notice hairline cracks form during that time. How do you know if these are serious and need repairs versus ones you can ignore?
First note that hairline cracks are those about the size of a sewing needle. Second, consider where the crack forms. Most harmless cracks appear in basement corners or around doors and windows. On the other hand, stairstep or zigzag cracks are often serious and need immediate repairs.
Another way to note if your house is sinking versus settling is to monitor the crack over time. To do this, mark its ends with a pencil and note the date. Then, check on the crack every few weeks or once a month. Consider if it’s spreading and enlarging or seems to stay the same size.
If the crack stays about the same size and you don’t notice moisture seeping through, it probably doesn’t need repairs. However, you might still fill it with concrete grout, to help protect against moisture damage.
Since most foundation concrete needs a full year to cure, a house might settle over that time. However, once the concrete sets and dries completely, a structure should then stop settling.
On the other hand, a house sinking on a weak foundation or poor-quality soil might not ever stop shifting! Additionally, a cracked or leaking foundation often leads to costly secondary damage around your property. The longer you ignore needed fixes the more extensive that damage, including:
Subsidence refers to soil or ground sinking. This process differs from ground heave, which is when the ground lifts upward. However, both risk foundation damage especially when left unchecked over the years. In turn, it’s vital that you understand what causes these processes and how to address them!
Moisture levels in soil affect its overall stability and how it might shift and move. Overly moist soil doesn’t stay compacted as it should, risking erosion or that soil washing away. In turn, sinkholes might form.
On the other hand, overly dry soil can also collapse and sink! Clay soil is especially susceptible to sinking during summertime when the sun’s heat causes it to shrink. Dry soil also lacks strength so that it can settle and sink.
Too much moisture can also cause ground swelling or heaving, not just sinking! One common culprit for excess moisture is removing trees without replacing them. In turn, their roots no longer pull moisture from the soil. Consequently, that moisture builds up and causes ground heaving.
Improper drainage and grading also risk ground heaving and swelling. Also, while clay soil might dry out during hot, dry weather, it can also absorb moisture and then expand. Frozen ground might also expand. These issues all risk foundation damage to nearby structures!
First, limit how many trees and shrubs your have around your house, so you don’t dry out the soil. Second, add drainage systems to pull moisture out of the soil as needed. Above all, keep the soil properly graded away from your home and to the street.
Also, ensure you maintain sprinkler systems and keep gutters clog-free. These simple steps prevent water buildup around your property’s soil. You might also have a foundation repair contractor or landscaping engineer check your property every few years. He or she can offer added suggestions for maintaining the soil properly.
Foundation repair costs depend on a foundation’s construction and damage extent! Obviously patching a few cracks is not as expensive as full-scale leveling and other extensive fixes. However, homeowners might be surprised to find out that foundation repair is often more affordable than they assume.
Whether you should buy a home with foundation damage depends on needed repairs and their costs. Also, consider the home’s price and other features it offers. For instance, you might be willing to pay for foundation repair for a home in a neighborhood you love. A home with a price low enough to cover foundation repair costs might also be an excellent investment!
Additionally, note that past foundation repairs don’t necessarily make a home a poor buying choice. As an example, underpinning often offers a permanent solution to foundation cracks and other damage. In turn, past underpinning doesn’t necessarily mean that the foundation with break down again in the future.
Above all, note if the current homeowner has taken steps to prevent future foundation damage. Have they waterproofed the foundation or invested in a French drain system? Have they graded the property and installed larger gutters and downspouts? These simple steps can ensure a foundation stays strong and stable over the years.
Lastly, remember to have a foundation inspected by a professional before making any buying decisions. A foundation repair contractor can note damage extent and needed repairs, if any. He or she can also assess past repairs and their overall quality. Consequently, you can make an informed decision about any house you might buy.
Better Foundation Repair San Diego is happy to help explain how to fix a shifting house foundation. Hopefully you found this information helpful! If it’s time for expert fixes on your property, call our San Diego foundation repair contractors. We start every project with a FREE inspection and price quote, and guarantee our work in writing. For more information, call us today!
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