Repairing Foundation Cracks: The Right Way and the Wrong Way

November 21, 2013 Melanie Chaney

Cracks in walls, ceilings, and exterior bricks are all signs that your foundation may be in need of repair. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach to repairing foundation cracks, but there are some right ways and wrong ways to go about it.

Incorrect Foundation Repairs

Concrete Underpinnings

One of the most common mistakes some contractors make when addressing foundation repairs is assuming that bigger is better and advising customers to go with concrete underpinnings. What this means is that larger concrete footings are poured underneath the current footings. The problem with this method is that the footings do not transfer the weight to more stable soil. The soil underneath the larger footings can still shift and cause more damage. Couple that with the fact that concrete is prone to shrinking as it dries and you end up with gaps between the two footings. If either of these problems occur, you are looking at even more costly repairs down the road.

Concrete Piers

Another method of repairing foundation cracks involves the use of concrete piers that are stacked on top of one another in the soil and held together with wire. The problem here is that these wide piers are tricky to push to the necessary soil depth, and even more difficult to navigate and keep straight. Like concrete underpinnings, these piers also have a tendency to crack or break. These factors make concrete piers an ineffective long-term solution.

Correct Foundation Repairs

· Patching or plugging – Smaller cracks can be cleaned and patched using a concrete-vinyl mixture, and for larger ones a foundation repair company may be able to plug them with epoxy.

· Foundation reinforcement – Steel push piers or helical piers can be used to reinforce the foundation itself, pushing the house back toward its original position. This can close up cracks, stabilize the home, and prevent any future damage from occurring. If walls are leaning or cracking, these can also be enforced with wood or steel braces to ensure their strength.

· Foundation replacement – If cracks are too large or other significant damage has occurred, the foundation may need to be completely replaced. In this case, the soil surrounding the house is pulled back, the house is lifted up, and the current foundation is removed and replaced.

Foundation Reinforcement

Push Piers

Push piers are one of the most effective and minimally invasive methods of repairing foundation cracks. These rugged, steel piers can be installed from either the interior or exterior of the home and can often lift the home back to its original position. The piers are hydraulically pushed through heavy-duty steel brackets, one by one, until they reach a competent soil level. Then the weight of the structure is evenly distributed across all the piers and the foundation is stabilized permanently. However, not all push pier systems are created equally. Ask your repair expert for the Foundation Supportworks™ system, which features a patented external sleeve that serves to strengthen the pier at its weakest point below the bracket.

Helical Piers

While push piers are a great solution for heavier structures and situations where the soil conditions are unknown, helical piers are equally effective for both light and heavy structures where soil conditions have been determined. These piers are fitted with helical plates that allow the plate to be turned or screwed to the proper depth. Since helical piers do not require the weight of the structure to drive them into the ground, the brackets are added after pier installation. Because the weight is unnecessary, helical piers are an ideal solution for decks, stoops, and stairs. Like push piers, helical piers can be installed from either the interior or exterior of the home and can restore it to its original position.

If would like one of our experts to guide you through your options for repairing foundation cracks, call us at 210-534-4110 or click here.

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