It can be a worrying time if you are a homeowner and you have discovered that your foundation is failing and cracked.
The first thing to be aware of in this scenario is the fact that there are efficient methods available to repair foundation cracks and there is professional help available when you need to find a fix and return your property to a solid foundation again.
Here is a look at what foundation cracks are telling you and an overview of how to solve the problem and what sort of timeframe you might be looking at.
Spotting the signs
Being a homeowner means the buck stops with you and if you suspect that you might have a problem with your foundation it is in your best interest to investigate the issue urgently and work out what needs to be done to rectify the situation.
A classic warning sign is when gaps in your foundation appear or you notice that some of the exterior brickwork is cracked.
New properties do experience a certain amount of movement which is perfectly normal but when those cracks are running horizontally or the gap has widened beyond about a ¼” that may be cause for concern.
It is not time to panic just yet when you spot signs of cracking as fractures are a sign of problems but it doesn’t automatically indicate that your home has a damaged foundation.
The best thing to do when you spot signs of cracking and movement is to ask a professional to take a look and give you an accurate appraisal of what sort of problem you are facing, says McCaw Property Management. It may not be a structural problem at all or you may be faced with a big foundation repair. It’s up to professionals to determine how big of a problem it is.
The cause of foundation damage
If it has been confirmed that you do have foundation damage it is also relevant to establish the circumstances that led to the problem as well as looking that the options available to put it right.
Certain properties are more susceptible to foundation damage than others and if your property has been built on expansive clay or tree roots are being allowed too close to your home, for example, these factors could potentially cause foundation damage.
If the soil underneath your property expands evenly this should not create a problem, but if the expansion is uneven that is a different matter and it could trigger differential movement.
It is hoped that when you bought the property you arranged for a building inspection to check for any underlying problems or foundation damage potential. If a problem has come to light afterward you should act swiftly to get the damage fixed as a matter of urgency.
There is no time to waste in this respect as the foundation will probably sink further as time goes by, increasing your repair costs as a result.
Several solutions now exist
If there is some good news to take on board after you have discovered that your property has a foundation problem it is that repair methods have evolved and there are likely to be several viable solutions that you might be offered.
The repair method used will be dictated by the cause of the problem and thanks to technological advancements there is a chance that the repairs can be carried out with minimal disruption to your normal family routine.
However, it should also be noted that some methods of repair will involve extension disruption, so the type of foundation problem you have will have an impact on your repair options and influence how long it takes to bring your home back to a safe state.
There are two popular repair methods available that might be offered to you.
A typical cause of the sinking is when the concrete slab was installed on what turned out to be poorly compacted fill dirt. Shrinking soils and issues with sub-surface erosion are also common problems that can be fixed using a method called slab jacking.
A competent contractor will be able to float a slab back into its original location when they pump a mixture of cement, fly ash, sand, and various additives, underneath your slab.
This technique involves drilling holes in the slab in strategic locations before using a pump to fill these drilled holes with the prepared mixture.
A positive aspect of using the slab jacking method is that the cost of leveling your concrete in this way compares favorably to the option of replacing the slab altogether.
Slabjacking can save you time and money if this is considered to be a viable fix.
Stabilizing the concrete slabs
Your contractor might suggest to you that piling or piercing is the way to fix your foundation problem.
The basic idea behind using piers is that they can be used in order to provide the support required to fix a failing foundation. A basic overview of the technique is that it involves driving steel pipe pilings into the soil using a hydraulic ram.
Push piers are made up of sections of steel pipe that have been either epoxy-coated or galvanized for strength and durability,
An alternative option might be to use helical piers, which use steel shafts with screw piles. Regardless of which system is used the application is mainly the same, driving steel piers into rock or a suitable soil bearing layer so that a connection to the foundation can be achieved.
Once the piers are in place each of the piles is stress-tested to a force greater than required so that it is confirmed that the piers will be able to support the structure.
Repairing foundations with piers offer a cost-effective solution to your foundation problem as it is much cheaper compared to attempting to replace your home’s foundation. It is also a method that causes minimal disruption, allowing you to carry on with your normal daily routine while the repairs are being performed.
To answer the initial question, how quickly your foundation can be fixed depends on the extent of the problem and the solution proposed, but at least you can be reassured to learn that there are some quick, efficient, and fairly non-intrusive methods available if it is discovered that your foundation needs fixing.