No matter if you own a home in NJ, NC, SC, or WI or anywhere else in the US, weather, trees, or soil erosion could impact your homes foundation, causing cracks and instability causing you to need a foundation repair company.
Your home’s foundation is what the entire structure sits on. When issues occur, it can affect your entire house. All homes are at risk for foundation issues, so it is important for all homeowners to understand the issues that may occur, what can cause foundation issues and how to get them fixed.
Types of Foundation Cracks
There are four primary types of foundation cracks. It is important to accurately identify the crack so that you can narrow down the cause and use the proper repair methods.
A vertical crack is one that goes up and down. Some vertical cracks are slightly diagonal but are no more than 30 degrees of vertical. These are the most common type of crack and most home foundations have at least one vertical crack.
Under compression, concrete is very strong, but under tension, it can crack easily. From a structural standpoint, this type of crack is often not a big concern. However, when it rains heavily, they can allow water to get through the foundation’s wall, so they should be fixed promptly.
A diagonal crack appears as approximately 30 to 75 degrees of vertical. In many cases, these cracks will be narrow at one end and wider at the opposite end. Differential settling is the most common cause of this type of cracking. This type of settling occurs when the conditions of the ground below the footings of the foundation change.
This change results in part of the house settling lower into the ground than the other areas of the foundation. When this occurs, the foundation experiences a higher level of tension, resulting in a crack. Essentially, the foundation is moving in two directions. Excessive drought conditions or rain and soil changes can cause this. Homes built on hills are also at a higher risk for diagonal cracks.
Horizontal cracks run side to side. This type of foundation crack is considered to be the most serious. They are most often seen in brick and concrete block foundations. They result from the home’s foundation bowing.
The exterior wall of the foundation is often covered when gravel and dirt is back filled into the area. When the back filling is not properly performed, there can be too much compression or inadequate drainage. This can result in the wall bowing inward due to excessive pressure. If it rains that then a freeze occurs, inward bowing can result if the hydrostatic pressure increases too much. If horizontal cracks are not fixed promptly, there is a risk that the house can collapse due to the foundation structurally failing.
This type of crack resembles stairs. They generally occur above the foundation on the exterior wall. Concrete block and brick exterior homes are at the highest risk for this type of crack. Like diagonal cracks, they result from differential settling.
These cracks are usually not serious if they are in the mortar joints located between the block or the brick. However, if the crack goes through the blocks or a block or brick is displaced, it can be more serious. Since they have the potential to be problematic, it is important that they are evaluated promptly.
What Causes Foundation Damage?
A number of factors can cause damage to your foundation. Natural disasters are a major factor since things like tornadoes and earthquakes can damage the foundation’s structural integrity. Flooding is another issue. It can cause an increase in the hydrostatic pressure, and when the pressure gets too intense, cracks, bowed walls and leaks can occur.
In addition to natural disasters, temperature changes and weather, the following factors can put your home’s foundation at risk for damage:
- If you have a plumbing leak in your home, this could eventually result in foundation walls shifting. In many cases, leaks that can result in shifting occur in the sanitary sewer element of your home’s plumbing system.
- When your home was constructed, if inferior concrete and insufficient steel were used, the foundation slab is at risk for movement. This problem can be made worse during times of drought or heavy rain.
- Improper drainage is one the biggest reasons for foundation problems. This is because high levels of concentrated moisture can cause erosion or soil settling, resulting in basement leaking and foundation cracks.
- If the ground is not properly prepared before your home is built, this could cause foundation failure. The two main culprits are improperly compacted soils or using low-density soils.
Will Insurance Cover Foundation Damage?
Whether your homeowner’s insurance covers foundation damage typically depends on the root cause of the damage. For example, if a natural disaster causes damage to your home’s foundation, it is likely covered as part of the reconstruction process. Foundation issues due to something like a fire may also be covered.
However, homeowner’s insurance often does not cover foundation damage associated with general wear and tear. As a home’s foundation gets older, it can start to slightly shift, resulting in cracks. In this instance, your policy might not cover the associated repair costs. Because of this, it is important to perform routine inspections and maintenance of your foundation to catch problems when they are still in the early stages.
How Does Weather Affect My Home’s Foundation?
Various types of weather can impact your home’s foundation. When it is hot and there are drought periods, the water inside the concrete can start to evaporate as a result of the dry air. This can cause your foundation to weaken and crack. Soil can also become dry in hot weather, resulting in foundation cracks and unevenness as a result of settling.
Rainy weather can be especially problematic following a period of drought. Water can get into foundation gaps, weakening your foundation and potentially causing flooding issues in your basement. The foundation may also expand once water starts to fill gaps and cracks.
If you have pre-existing gaps and cracks in your foundation, cold weather may cause problems. The concrete can slightly contract when the temperatures plummet. Then, once it starts to get warm again, expansion occurs, resulting in the gaps and cracks getting larger.
How Do Soil and Trees Affect My Home’s Foundation?
Both trees and soil can affect your home’s foundation. Tree roots are constantly looking to find the nutrients and water needed to keep the tree alive. To do this, they are always extending themselves further.
Tree roots usually do not directly cause problems with your foundation. Instead, they can cause soil changes that affect your foundation. The most common issue is concrete settling. When concrete starts to settle, it is at risk for cracking and shifting. If the movement that is happening is significant, this could result in cracks in your foundation and your foundation’s support beams shifting.
There are different types of soil that can impact your foundation in various ways:
- Expansive clay can result in movement of your foundation as a result of ground shifts
- Sand may cause horizontal movement of your foundation
- Sandy loam or select fill may cause issues with load bearing
- Rock may expand and erode slightly which could result in your foundation sliding
Types of Foundation Repair Services and Solutions?
The first step in repairing a foundation problem is determining what caused it in the first place. Contractors will explore factors like the recent weather, and examine your home’s trim boards and moldings, low area windows (such as basement windows) and brick veneer mortar joints.Hydraulic jacking and slab-jacking are two of the most common ways to repair foundation issues.
Hydraulic jacking, also referred to as piering, uses steel posts that are driven through soil. This is used when underlying soil is affecting the stability of the foundation, allowing for the stabilization or raising of concrete slabs.
This method is most often used for bigger foundation problems, especially when a structure’s foundation is shifting. Spread footing and pier hold the beam at the proper elevation. The mechanical jacks used in this process lift the beam that has settled to grade. To ensure no further damage, it is imperative to raise the beam very carefully.
The footing must be set to a depth that will not falter to soil moisture variations. With this method, there is not unnecessary mass or bulk due to it helping to adequately distribute the load. Steel ties the pier into the footing to ensure proper support for the foundation beam.
Slabjacking involves pumping grout under a slab to lift it. The purpose is to get the foundation back to its original elevation.
Slabjacking is typically used when there is sunken concrete, such as residential foundation slabs, as well as sidewalks and driveways. Holes are strategically placed in the concrete slab and cement grout is pumped through these. The grout hardens into a mass of dense concrete once it is in place. This creates a solid bearing for the slab of concrete. This allows for sub-soil stabilization and it reduces the risk of the issue recurring in the future.
If your foundation has minor cracks, there may be options to fill them to prevent them from becoming a bigger issue that could require hydraulic jacking or slabjacking. If a crack is not causing structural problems, injecting a polyurethane or epoxy foam may be enough to repair it. However, if the crack is leaking or it is wet, it might also need to be waterproofed to prevent moisture from making it worse.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Home’s Foundation?
Fixing a home’s foundation can cost anywhere between $620 and $15,000. The national average cost in the United States is $4,511. The average range for home foundation costs is $2,318 to $6,750.
The following describes the average cost for specific foundation problems:
- A 10-foot crack costs about $620 to fix
- Sinking and settling costs about $1,300 to $1,500 for each pier
- Leaks can cost an average of $2,500 to $5,000
- If basement walls are bowing, this can cost an average of $5,000 to $15,000
Make sure to have your foundation inspected on a regular schedule. You should also do self-inspections to see if there are any structural issues. As soon as you notice something, contact a professional to get an evaluation. From here, they can help you to decide on the right fix.
If you have a house in NJ, NC, SC, or WI and need help with your foundation, feel free to reach out to our team to talk more about how we can help fix and secure your foundation.