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The Best and Most Effective Foundation Repair Methods

By Amy Poole

If you’ve spotted leaky plumbing, minor cracks in the wall, and doors and windows moving away from their frames, it might be time to avert your attention to these foundation issues.

Continue reading to educate yourself on the top foundation repair methods that help with foundation damage.

What Causes Foundation Issues?

Here are some of the main reasons behind foundation damage:

Insufficient Drainage

Water pooling at your home’s foundation can cause major damage. This typically happens when the garden landscaping is flat and doesn’t allow for draining or if there aren’t gutters on the roof to divert water away from the foundation.

Poor Construction

If a home’s foundation wasn’t implemented well to begin with, you can encounter some foundation issues. This is particularly common for homes that don’t have soil compaction surrounding the property. This means that the foundation will shrink as the soil moves.

Plumbing Issues

Poor plumbing can cause water to leak under the foundation, creating water buildup at the base. This can cause long-term damage, such as cracks and rot.

Poor Soil Stabilization

If your home’s settled on poor soil conditions, your home’s foundation might be affected. In particular, moisture levels affect soil’s effectiveness, especially as it acts like a sponge and then contracts during dry weather. This fluctuation can cause stress to your home’s foundation.

Signs of Foundation Problems

If you’re a homeowner, here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Foundation cracks in the wall, ceiling, and floor
  • Uneven floors
  • Doors and windows separating from their frames
  • Rotten wood
  • Tile cracks
  • Walls pulling away from the house
  • Wallpaper peeling off the walls
  • A damp crawl space
  • Foundation sinking

Common Foundation Issues

  • Cracks in the foundation
  • Cracks in floor and wall tiles
  • Space between floors and walls
  • Uneven floors

The Best Foundation Repair Methods

Slab Jacking

This method is less destructive than building an entirely new concrete foundation. It’s also effective in amending a concrete slab that’s lost some leveling. Slab jacking works by lifting a side of the concrete slab, enabling the foundation to sit level. This process doesn’t require you to break up the concrete, reducing mess.

For slab jacking, you need to drill holes into the foundation that are around ½ inch in diameter. Then, pump stable materials (such as polyurethane foam or mud — which is known as mudjacking) into these holes.

Polyurethane foam is beneficial because it expands and slowly raises your home’s foundation rather than the concrete slab being raised by pressure.

Underpinning or Piling

Underpinning is a technique to provide a new foundation underneath a property without disturbing the original structure. It’s effective in increasing the existing foundation and replacing a damaged foundation.

Pit Method

This technique requires short columns (between 1.2–1.8m) underpinned. Then, holes are cut in the wall above the surface level at regular interviews. Needles are then placed through the holes to support the property.

Jacks provide working space for concreting and trench excavation. If a foundation needs replacing, the part of the wall should have a cut between 90 cm and 120 cm in length.

Pier and Beam Underpinning

This is used for many ground conditions. It requires reinforced concrete beam foundations to be transferred to mass concrete bases or piers.

The overall size of the beams depends on the applied loads and ground conditions.

Cantilever Needle Beam Method

This method is an extension of the pit method and is suitable for homes with a strong interior column. It also only requires one-side access, which is ideal for sites with space limitations.

In this pit method, you need to excavate an underpinning pit beneath the existing exterior wall in the area where the foundation’s faulty. A needle beam is then strapped to connect the original wall and the existing interior. After this, the exterior wall is hung and pushed by a hydraulic jack.

This procedure is faster than the original pit method and increases your home’s foundation load-carrying capacity.

Pile Method

The pile method of underpinning requires installing piles along each side of the walls to strengthen a property’s foundation. This is usually achieved with a borehole pile. Then, concrete needles are stuck through the foundation wall to connect to the piles.

This method is ideal for waterlogged areas or locations in weak-bearing strata.

Piering

Piering involves driving a type of pipe piling to a building’s base to help with the foundation settlement.

Steel Piers

Epoxy-coated or galvanized steel piers are driven down to a building’s foundation using a hydraulic ram. Then, all of the steel piers are load tested while a uniform system stabilizes the structure to improve and increase the recovery process.

This process of piering supports foundations in all soil conditions. It can also be adopted in tight areas.

Concrete Piers

Concrete piers involve digging holes down to the foundation’s frost line and pouring them with concrete. The holes are lined with fiber tubes before layering with concrete, enabling you to cut the piers 6–12 inches above the ground.

This process reduces time and money spent and can be used for properties that are big or small.

Helical Piers

Helical piers are like durable screws. They require digging holes that are separated by six feet. Once you reach a property’s foundation, continue an additional 18 inches to provide a snug fit to your home’s foundation. Then, manicure the helical piers down using a jackhammer.

Segmented Piers

Segmented piers are cylindrical concrete tubes that you can press into the soil underneath your foundation. This is an affordable way to fix many types of foundation repairs.

Spot Piers

This option involves hand-dug holes that are filled with concrete.

Masonry Patching and Sealant

Masonry patching requires a trowel to remove any broken brick and mortar. Then, fill in the gaps with sealant to improve a foundation’s stability.

Re-shimming

Improve your home’s stabilization with re-shimming. This involves small pieces of steel stacked on top of one another to reach the desired height under a property’s foundation. It’s a common solution to home repairs.

Mudjacking or High-Density Polyurethane Foam

Mudjacking is best for concrete that’s no longer level but is in great condition. This method won’t work for load-bearing slabs, as it doesn’t have enough drive to move slabs, and it can even cause more problems.

Mudjacking involves more cleanup and uses heavier materials than high-density polyurethane foam. Plus, water can reach inside the holes, which can cause damage to the settlement and encourage weeds to grow in these areas.

Alternatively, high-density polyurethane foam only requires you to drill small holes. Then, spray the foam through these holes where it can expand up to seven feet, raising the concrete while filling in any gaps between the soil and concrete. Additionally, polyurethane foam is ideal for heavy concrete slabs.

Final Verdict: What is the Best Method for Foundation Repair?

With all of these foundation repair methods, which one is our most recommended? Slab jacking. It doesn’t require as much money as many of the other repair options, and the process isn’t as messy, extensive, and noisy, either.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you fix a sinking foundation?

Never ignore any of the above signs of a sinking foundation, and contact a structural engineer to apply any of the above suited methods to resolve the damage.

How much is foundation repair?

Foundation repair cost depends on the severity of the issue and the size of the attended area.

What happens if foundation issues go unfixed?

You can encounter plumbing issues, rodent infestations, mold and mildew, not to mention irreversible structural damage.

What type of foundation repair is the best method?

Slab jacking has many benefits, such as being a quick, non-disruptive process. This technique also fixes most types of concrete in any weather and has a shorter waiting time than the alternatives.

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