While the prospect can be frightening for a homeowner to consider, most foundations do experience some level of settlement over their lifetime. For the majority of these foundations, the settlement will be minimal and the visible damage will be limited to small, harmless hairline cracks in the concrete or masonry surface.
As home foundations hold and stabilize the weight of the structure, movement or contraction of the surrounding soil as well as pressure from wind, water and erosion can result in increasing levels of damage. If the material of the foundation is old or of poor quality, the level of damage it may experience is often even more advanced.
How is the level of damage determined?
Foundation cracking that is limited to small, hairline cracks will rarely need repairs. Instead, homeowners are likely to be advised to monitor the cracks, as well as having periodic inspections performed by a qualified foundation repair contractor or structural engineer. Homeowners who note more serious signs of foundation damage will need to schedule immediate repairs to prevent further damage to both the foundation and the structure of the home. These more serious signs might include:
- widening cracks in the foundation, especially those with jagged, uneven edges and those that allow water infiltration to occur
- noticing that doors or windows are increasingly difficult to close or that they no longer appear to be evenly hung
- noticing that floors are becoming unlevel
- finding unexplained cracks in window glass, drywall, and plaster
- finding jagged cracks in chimneys or brick and rock surfaces
Foundation issues can also cause walls to appear bowed, especially when soil or water is applying pressure to the surface.
Are most foundation problems repairable?
In most cases, foundation damage that is caught early is repairable. If the damage is slight, repairs may be limited to filing the cracks and applying a sealant to the foundation walls. More serious damage may require more in-depth repairs, including excavation around the exterior of the foundation, the installation of a permanent drainage system, and the use of some type of stabilizing brace.
Foundations that have experienced serious damage may require advanced repair options, such as raising the home for the purpose of installing new foundation piers and replacing failed sections of the foundation. Foundation walls that are severely bowed, inward or outward, may require the use of anchoring devices or special braces to restore the integrity and strength of the foundation.
Homeowners who have any concerns about the health of their foundation should immediately discuss their situation with a foundation repair contractor who can help them understand the severity of their issue and how they can best address it.
Contact a company like Tillotson Enterprise Inc for more information on foundation repair options.