As far as major home repairs go, foundation repair tends to get most homeowners in a panic. You can practically see the dollar signs before your very eyes as you imagine your savings account running dry.
But foundation repair doesn’t have to be so drastic. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be scary. If you know what to look for, you can quickly spot foundation problems and address them yourself with tools you probably already have on hand.
And if the problem does require the help of experts, it’s best to call them as soon as possible in order to nip the problem in the bud. More complicated repairs will certainly cost you more money and have the potential to be more disruptive.
How to Quickly Spot Foundation Problems
Home naturally settle over time, and if you’re lucky, yours will settle in a uniform fashion. But if one part of the house sinks lower than another, the foundation will experience undue stress. And not only will the foundation be at risk for cracking, so will your walls.
Therefore one of the easiest ways to evaluate the stability of your home’s foundation is to look at your home’s interior walls. If there are cracks near the ceiling, it could indicate a foundation problem. If you have a basement, check the basement walls for cracks as well.
Doors that fail to close, windows that are a struggle to open and floors that noticeably slant are other signs of a foundation problem.
It’s best to be on the lookout for small cracks as the first signs of foundation trouble. If you don’t want to call a repairperson out instantly, at least monitor the cracks to be sure they do not grow larger over time, because then a professional definitely should be called out.
Foundation Repair Methods and Tools
Foundations extend deep underground so that they can rest on a stable subsoil. The ground closer to the surface is more likely to shift and expand in response to water, which can then cause the foundation to move and your entire house to lean a little (or a lot!).
Therefore, the best foundation repair tools are designed to reach far below your home in order to reach that stable ground. Concrete blocks or pier and beam foundation repairs are the two most common solutions that a professional foundation repair contractor will use to re-level your home.
This means that your home may be lifted slightly in order to provide access to the right areas. A hydraulic jack is used to push the piers deep underground. In extreme cases, part of your floor may need to be removed to give access to the foundation.
A concrete slab foundation requires a different type of repair. These foundations are thick pads of poured concrete and are installed in areas that typically do not receive a lot of rainfall, such as the southwestern region of the U.S. However, the soil can still shift and cause cracks in the foundation. Heavy-duty material is pumped underneath the slab in order to raise it up and create a level surface again.
DIY Foundation Repair
Chances are, you don’t own a hydraulic jack or have enough knowledge about foundations to make major repairs on your own. And even if you did try, it could take weeks to finish the project, whereas a qualified foundation repair crew could finish it up in a day or two.
But if you’re lucky, your foundation repair doesn’t even need such a drastic intervention. You can take care of small problems yourself to prolong the life of your foundation and to prevent further problems.
For example, a waterproof paint can be used on visible foundation walls to prevent the concrete itself from cracking due to moisture changes. A tube of grout or sealant is a cheap investment and can help you fill small, existing cracks and provide extra stability.
Small changes in your home may be a result of settling and may not become problematic. If you have a door that does not close properly, consider sanding it down to achieve a good fit again. Make a note of when you did this. Then, if the door starts sticking again any time in the next few years, you know that you have an ongoing problem.
These DIY foundation repair tips can help you save money on a professional contractor, but when it comes to your home’s foundation, don’t hesitate to call someone in to give an evaluation. Better yet, call several experts in to evaluate your home’s foundation. Doing so can give you peace of mind or can help you prepare to budget for a more expensive home repair.