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The Permanence of Foundation Repair | Will Repairs Last?

November 24, 2020

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Is foundation repair permanent? This is a valid question, as not all repairs are covered by homeowner’s insurance and can cost thousands of dollars. If you’re a homeowner, it’s important to know that you’re getting your money’s worth and that your foundation repairs will last for many years to come! In some cases you might also need to choose between foundation fixes and a new foundation altogether.

There is no easy answer to the question, is foundation repair permanent, as this depends on the cause of foundation damage, repair method is chosen, and quality of those repairs. To better understand your choices and ensure you opt for the best foundation repair solution available, and know-how long those fixes might last, consider some important information about foundation damage and its needed fixes.

Is Foundation Repair Really Permanent?

Remember that not every crack, chip, or spalling is the same, and there is never such a thing as a “permanent” solution to any foundation damage! Changing soil conditions, earthquakes and extreme weather conditions, and a new construction project near your home can result in future foundation damage. Adding to your home’s weight, such as with an attached sunroom or heavy interior stone floors, without underpinning or otherwise strengthening a foundation can also mean eventual damage.

However, some foundation repair methods are more durable than others and should last for several decades under the same soil and weather conditions. To better understand your foundation repair choices and their overall longevity, check out some added details about various repair methods available today:

  • Concrete piers are often installed during the preconstruction phase of homebuilding, and these help support a foundation as it’s being poured and then setting and curing. These piers are also used for sinking foundations, lifting them up and providing added support. While concrete piers are durable and last for decades, steel piers have gained popularity over the years.
  • Steel piers are similar to concrete piers but are easier to work with and can be installed more readily; concrete requires pouring while fresh, which can require disturbing far more landscaping and lawn than simple steel piers. Steel is also more impervious to moisture and added weight than concrete piers.
  • Helical piers look somewhat like giant screws and are literally screwed into the ground under a damaged foundation! These piers are often used for foundations supporting less weight, such as under a porch or garage. For helical piers to last as long as possible, it’s vital that the installer check soil conditions before installation, so he or she knows how deep to drive the pier.
  • A poly lift is also a popular way of repairing a sinking foundation; this includes injecting a special polyurethane foam into the ground, under the broken foundation section. As the foam dries and hardens, it lifts the foundation into place and restores it to a level and even position. This poly foam doesn’t deteriorate or weaken over time, so it’s typically considered a permanent foundation repair solution.
  • Quick-fix solutions such as epoxy fills for surface damage, including hairline cracks and spalling, might last some five years or more.
  • Carbon fiber straps, wall anchors, and other heavy-duty fixes used to address bowing walls should also last for several years, if not a decade or more.

If You Don’t Fix a Foundation, What Could Happen...

Before you decide that foundation repair costs just aren’t worth the investment, consider what’s at stake when it comes to ignoring and neglecting needed foundation repairs.

A weak foundation allows an entire structure to shift and then settle, leading to cracks along the interior and exterior walls. Those cracks let in moisture that can mean water damage along with wood framing and drywall, mold growth, and insect infestation.

A home’s interior floors and roof might also buckle and crack, leading to extensive and costly repairs! You might also notice that windows and doors stick and refuse to open, or doors might open on their own. As window frames and doorjambs become uneven, you might also struggle to lock them securely, and they become easier to pry open, compromising your family’s security.

As a home settles and shifts on a weak foundation, plumbing pipes also get pulled out of place. This can lead to clogs and backed-up toilets and drains, as well as broken connectors and leaks. Those leaks also lead to framework water damage and wood rot as well as the risk of mold infestation!

A homeowner should also note that foundation damage also tends to get worse the longer it’s ignored. Cracks get longer and deeper, and the home might settle even more over the years so that it requires more poly foam or other materials for proper fixing. Addressing needed foundation repairs quickly keeps them as affordable as possible, while also reducing the risk of very costly secondary damage to your home.

Can You Live In a House With Foundation Problems?

If you already own a home with foundation problems, note the issues you might soon face as mentioned above. While some damage might seem like an inconvenience and nothing more, a weakened roof can eventually collapse, while plumbing clogs can mean no working plumbing in the home at all! For this and many other reasons, it’s vital you schedule foundation repairs as soon as possible.

If you’re considering purchasing a home with foundation problems, first ensure you have a proper inspection of all potential related issues, which might not be included in a standard home inspection. Most presale inspections only check areas of a home that must be built up to code, such as the roof and plumbing, but might not check for standing water in the basement, mold growth, insect infestation, and so on.

Once you’ve had the home assessed completely, consider the cost of fixing the foundation as well as other related repairs. Has the seller adjusted their asking price accordingly and are you willing to take the time needed to schedule those repairs?

In some cases a damaged foundation and even interior damage is no reason to forego a home purchase; for example, if the home’s purchase price makes those repairs affordable and you can easily schedule them before taking possession of the house, it might be a worthwhile purchase for you. You might also be planning some interior renovations once you take possession of the home, so repairing damaged flooring and cracked interior walls might not be an imposition at all!

On the other hand, don’t assume that bowing basement walls or a musty smell in the crawl space are normal, or that you can easily put off needed foundation repair for several years after moving into a new home. Speak to a foundation repair contractor, real estate agent, and even a real estate lawyer as needed, to ensure you’re making an informed decision about any home purchase and especially one with foundation damage!

What Causes Foundation Damage

If a homeowner doesn’t address the cause of a home’s foundation damage, that damage is likely to return. While your foundation repair contractor is the best source of information for why your home’s foundation is cracked, chipped, or sinking, note some common causes of foundation damage and how they’re addressed.

Improper drainage and soil evaporation are two common causes of foundation damage. As soil evaporates, it shrinks so that it doesn’t support a foundation as it should, allowing it to then shift and crack. Excessive moisture in the soil means moisture against the foundation; as concrete absorbs that moisture it then softens, leading to cracks, chips, and spalling.

Transpiration, or the water cycle of vegetation, also means dry, shrinking soil. Large trees or lots of vegetation on the property might absorb too much moisture from the ground so that the soil becomes dry and shrinks, pulling away from the home and its foundation.

Tree limbs wrapping themselves around a foundation can put pressure on the concrete, leading to cracks and chips and other serious damage. Insufficient soil compaction also means a lack of support for a foundation, so that it might lean and crumble. 

Plumbing leaks also mean excessive moisture in your property’s soil, or water that eventually makes its way to the home’s lower levels, where it’s then absorbed by the home’s foundation. If a crawl space is not encapsulated or waterproofed, it also absorbs water vapor from the ground, leading to wood rot and other such damage.

Do All Cracks Mean It’s Time for Foundation Repairs?

As concrete shrinks and expands, it often suffers tiny surface cracks and these don’t necessarily indicate that it’s time for foundation repairs. Interior plaster walls also tend to shift and settle and then eventually show small surface cracks over time, and these also might not mean that your home needs foundation repairs.

However, cracks large enough for you to insert a coin into and especially those accompanied by spalling and water seeping into the home’s interior should be inspected immediately. It’s also good to note that exterior brick doesn’t simply crack on its own so if you notice cracked brick walls or a cracked chimney stack, it’s time for a foundation inspection!

Total Foundation Repair San Antonio is proud to present this information to our readers and especially proud of the work offered by our foundation repair experts. If you’re still wondering, is a foundation repair permanent, or have any other questions about our residential foundation repair for homes, call us today!

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