The discovery of a foundation problem is an experience that every homeowner dreads. A healthy foundation provides the strength to support and stabilize the weight of the entire structure plus interior features, furnishings, and occupants.
When the foundation of a home weakens or fails, structural changes and settlement issues can damage the home's value and can make it more difficult to sell. Foundation problems that are not corrected are likely to worsen and can eventually make the home unsafe for occupancy.
Tiny, hairline cracks are usually not a sign of foundational issues when they occur in foundation walls and concrete slab floors. Instead, small cracks often form due to natural settling of the ground, curing temperatures, or slight variations in the cement mixture when poured. Hairline cracks should, however, be checked periodically so they can be repaired before serious damage can occur.
Cracks that are large enough to allow moisture to seep through or those with noticeable gaps or bulges will need to be repaired to prevent more serious issues. Foundation repair experts may use a variety of repair techniques, including sealants, foams, or hydraulic concrete to repair cracks.
If the cracks are forming or worsening due to moisture gathering near the exterior foundation walls, it may be necessary to take additional actions. Foundation repair experts may suggest making landscaping changes, installing drain or pump systems, or applying sealants to the exterior of the home to prevent further foundation problems.
Foundation problems that have resulted in walls with serious bowing or collapsed areas often require repairs to support the area and prevent further damage. Supportive piers are often used to correct this type of foundation damage and add necessary support for the structure of the house.
Concrete, steel, and helical piers are time-tested options available to foundation repair experts to help shore up weak areas and restore stability to the structure. Spot or segmented piers may also be used, usually for lighter load areas of the structure, such as those where a porch is located.
Concrete slabs that have serious cracks or buckles are sometimes addressed with repairs that utilize a special high-density foam product. The foam is injected under the slab in a grid pattern where it can expand to support and stabilize the floor.
Homeowners who suspect they have a foundation problem should always start with a professional inspection by a local foundation repair contractor to determine the severity of the problem and the best way to address it.