Foundation Crack Repair
Foundation cracks are common in old homes as well as in new homes once they settle. Cracks in basement foundation are problematic because they are one of the prime sources of basement flooding and they can also be an indication of other foundation issues. Foundation crack repair is a necessary step in waterproofing and maintaining your foundation to prevent costly incidents from occurring.
Foundation crack causes
The first step in repairing foundation cracks is determining how they formed in the first place.
Here are some of the most common causes for foundation cracks so that if you are ever in need of foundation repair, you can more easily determine the source of the problem:
- Drought or hot temperatures
- Natural disasters
- Bad construction
- Soil problems
- Drainage problems
Drought or hot temperatures
A drought or extreme evaporation in periods of prolonged hot temperatures causes the soil and ground surrounding your foundation to dry out and contract. This moves soil and support away from the foundation, allowing for shifts and cracks.
Naturally occurring disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods can do significant damage to basement foundation. Earthquakes are ground shifts that can rattle or split your foundation, causing cracks. Hurricanes and floods pour excess water into the soil around your foundation, which can put a lot of pressure on basement foundation and leave you in need of foundation crack repair.
The type of soil surrounding your home can impact whether or not you need foundation repair. If you have expansive soil that expands with too much moisture or consolidating soil that shrinks with too little moisture, then the pushing and pulling of these various weather conditions can cause cracks to form easily.
Heavy rainfall or snowmelt can inundate the soil around home foundation, causing it to expand and put pressure on the foundation, which can lead to cracking. If water does begin to leak into your basement, mold and mildew growth will soon follow and you will have even more problems and repairs ahead of you, so get on top of foundation leak repair as soon as possible.
If there are any leaks around your basement or in the public plumbing system near your home, those can have the same effect as expansive soils or heavy storms in that the extra water can fill the soil around your foundation and cause it to expand and force cracks in the foundation.
When building a home, the builders need to test the soil, prepare the soil, and properly compact it on your property before putting in the foundation. If this is done incorrectly or corners are cut then once the house goes up, it can settle and lead to many shifts and cracks.
If you do not have solid drainage systems in place around your foundation or yours are simply not working properly, you can run into the same issues with too much moisture applying pressure on your foundation and damaging it. Our basement waterproofing page will give you ideas on how to improve the drainage around your home and reduce the need for concrete foundation repair.
Tree roots can be strong and unwieldy when they grow. Even a pipe or concrete foundation cannot withstand the power of an extending tree root. As they grow through your yard, they can knock into your foundation causing cracks or break a pipe in your backyard, which can lead to a drainage issue followed by foundation problems. If there are large trees near your home, be aware of this and consider tree removal services.
How to Repair Foundation Cracks
If you are up to the task of DIY foundation repair, below is what tools you will need to do that job and a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
Foundation crack repair kit:
triple expanding foam
Spray bottle with water
flat rectangular trowel
DIY Foundation Crack Repair:
Lay down a dropcloth and use a wire brush to remove any excess concrete or dust lingering within the cracks.
For deeper cracks, insert triple expanding foam deep into the crack. You do not need too much as it will expand further out from what you initially insert. Wait a little bit to let it do its job until you are sure it is done expanding. If some of the foam comes outside of the crack, you should let it dry for a few minutes while you move on to the next steps and then scrape it off.
For the tighter cracks, you will need to make the front of them a little wider so you can actually get enough mortar deep inside of the crack itself to seal it. Use a chisel to lightly break out the edges of the cracks on the wall and clean out any excess debris.
Grab a bucket and mix water with the mortar mix. After those are nicely mixed, add in some acrylic bonding agent, which will help it stick to the wall.
Now it is time to scrape off any of that extra foam that is hanging over the wall and push anything that is still soft further into the crack. Wait until it hardens before adding the mortar.
Wet the surface with a sponge or spray bottle before adding the mortar. This is important because the wall is so dry that it will suck the water right out of the mortar and cause it to crack soon after you apply it if you do not wet it before.
Grab your trowel, dip it into the mortar mix, and push the mortar into the wall.
Once all the mortar is on the wall, smooth it out using a flat trowel.
Wait a few weeks so it can properly dry before painting over it.
Signs of Foundation Issues
Home foundation repair can be costly and following up on early warning signs can save you a lot of money. Here are some simple warning signs that your home may have foundation problems:
Random cracks begin to appear on walls around your house
Cracks appear in your basement flooring whether that is some material that is lying on top of the concrete or the concrete itself
Doors that used to open and close smoothly, now get stuck
Windows start to stick
Bulging or leaning foundation walls
Concrete outside your home is brittle and flakes away
Support beams in or under your house are no longer standing straight up
Puddles form in random areas of your basement
Foundation Repair Cost
Answering the question, “How much does foundation repair cost?” can be complicated since there is such a wide range of repairs a foundation may need. When it comes to concrete crack repair, the cost can range from $500-$3,000 depending on the width, depth, and number of cracks in the foundation.
For larger issues such as foundation that is uneven or bowing, you will need to consult with structural engineers or foundation repair contractors. Costs can reach up to $40,000 depending on the repair method needed.
Some foundation repair methods include:
Foundation reinforcement with braces: When foundation is beginning to tip, you can install floor-to-ceiling braces to add support. However, these can be bulky and eye sores in a room.
Epoxy and fiber mesh: This is another stabilizing method involving applying epoxy to walls and then placing carbon-fiber mesh on top of it to prevent wall movements.
Wall anchors: These are metal plates installed in and around your foundation that will gradually stabilize your walls.
Piering or underpinning: Piers are installed under your foundation and then hydraulics are used to lift the foundation back into position and stabilize it.
Slabjacking or mud-jacking: The foundation repair contractors will fill the space under your foundation with a mixture that will cause it to raise back into place.
Excavate completely and rebuild: This is the most costly option of the methods. While some of the other options require some level of excavation, this is a complete excavation of your foundation and a full rebuild.
A structural engineer or foundation repair contractor will be able to tell you which method is best to fix your issue and why.
How to Prevent Foundation Cracks
Foundation crack formation is oftentimes unavoidable with things like natural disasters to contend with, but here are some things you can do to prevent cracks from forming in your foundation or to catch them before they become a massive problem:
Clean out your gutters
If there is debris caught in your gutters during heavy rainfall, then water can overflow out of the gutter and run down your home’s walls and foundation slowly breaking them down.
Do regular crack checks of your foundation
Make it a habit to regularly inspect your foundation for cracks, both in your basement and out the exterior of your home. If you spot one, getting on top of the foundation crack repair right away could save you thousands of dollars in repairs versus if you left it to grow.
Get to know your walls and floors
Scan your walls and floors often for cracks and if you see any, make sure you know their size so that you can tell if they are growing. If new cracks form or old ones grow, then you likely have a foundation problem.
Check doors and windows
If doors and windows no longer open and close properly, it could be a sign that your foundation has shifted. Make sure to inspect your foundation for any visible cracks.
Drain water away from your home
If water is pooling in your yard near your home after rainfall, that means that the soil around your foundation cannot handle that amount of water. Consider drainage improvements such as a french drain, dry well, downspout extenders, or adding a drainpipe.
Check for puddles in your basement
Any puddling in your basement could be an indicator that there are cracks in your foundation or improper drainage in your basement. You will want to find and fix this issue right away as larger basement flooding is likely to occur, which can wreak havoc on a basement.
Consider adjusting the slope of your lot
If the land around your home slopes toward your home, then every time there is rain or snow water is being pushed toward your home. Over time this water can continue to put pressure on a home’s foundation and cause it to shift and crack. One way to get ahead of this problem is to regrade your lot so that water naturally flows away from the foundation.
Check plumbing systems for leaks
If you notice any leaks, they could eventually thwart the integrity of your foundation so regularly check pipes and plumbing systems for any leaks and fix them right away.