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Foundations – the Basics on Repair

Jun 18, 2012

Of all the home repairs, probably nothing strikes a chord of fear into a homeowner more than hearing, “You have a problem with your foundations.” If you need a new roof, shingles are easily removed and replaced, but the foundation is a whole different side of home repairs – literally. After all, the foundation supports your entire home and everything in it.

When it comes to foundation repairs, the source of the problem is almost always one thing – water. The constant expansion and contraction of water in the soil surrounding the foundation can cause it to heave and buckle. This is turn can create cracks in the concrete that will allow water to seep into the foundation and directly into the home.

The two most common problems causing a foundation to shift or move are:

  • Soil is too high in clay. Clay tends to expand with water content and this accounts for the common problem of heaving.
  • Improper or inadequate compaction of non-clay soils when preparing to lay a foundation.

A home foundation that has become unstable will present subtle hints in the home both inside and out.

Interior signs include:

  • A floor that is not level
  • Doors or windows that don’t close properly
  • Cracks that appear – especially over doors and windows
  • Cracks where walls meet or where a wall meets the ceiling
  • Cracks in vinyl or ceramic floors

An exterior examination may show:

  • A bulge or divot in either a block or poured foundation
  • Deteriorating concrete
  • Significant sized cracks.

Most homes develop cracks in the concrete or even in the walls as part of a normal settling process so there is no need to assume your house is about to be swallowed up by a giant sink hole any day.

Fairly simple repairs can solve many foundation problems. If you find water seeping into the basement or suspect your home’s foundation may be settling improperly, it is better to have it taken care of sooner rather than later.

Find a professional who can inspect your property and give you the best advice on how to remedy the situation before it becomes worse and costs you a lot more in repairs.

A certified RESNET EnergySmart contractor or builder will be able to explain what your best avenue of attack would be to solve the problem. They can also give you some sound advice on how to make sure the foundation of your home meets energy efficient standards when it comes to eliminating unwanted drafts and the exchange of air through gaps in your building construction.