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When You Need Residential Foundation Repair vs. Natural Settling

September 17, 2019

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A homeowner should never put off needed residential foundation repair, as a weak and damaged foundation leads to interior cracks along walls, floors, and ceilings, and results in water leaks and resultant mold growth. However, note that a home tends to settle into the ground simply due to age, weather, and soil conditions, and this doesn’t necessarily result in foundation damage. How do you know when your home needs residential foundation repair versus natural settling?

Settling happens when a home sinks into the ground over time. Your home needs residential foundation repair when settling, soil expansion and contraction, excess moisture, and other conditions compromise the structural integrity of the foundation.

Only a structural engineer or foundation repair contractor in your area can determine if your home needs foundation crack repair, underpinning, and other such work. To know when it’s time to call a foundation repair company near you, note some vital information about settling as well as signs of residential foundation damage. Remember, too, that if you’re unsure about damage to your home’s foundation, call a foundation repair contractor for an inspection just to be sure and so you can get those repairs done quickly!

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When Do You Need Residential Foundation Repair?

Not every hairline crack in a foundation needs repair, but you also don’t want to overlook signs of severe residential foundation damage, thinking that only large cracks, chipped areas of concrete, and other blemishes need fixing. Consider when your home needs residential foundation repair and why it’s vital that you call a foundation repair contractor when you notice any of these issues inside or outside your home:

  • Fractures are the most obvious sign of needed residential foundation repair. A fracture is a crack more than a quarter inch wide or cracks that include outright gaps in the foundation.
  • Cracks, gaps, and fractures along a home’s chimney or a sinking or crooked chimney also indicate that a home needs foundation repair.
  • Foundation upheaval refers to a home’s foundation lifting upwards rather than sinking. Soil pressure often results in foundation upheaval; soil pushing onto the home squeezes it so much that the foundation actually lifts up rather than settles down. This soil pressure tends to create cracks and other foundation damage. If you notice mud and dried dirt above your property’s soil line, the foundation might be upheaving.
  • Interior doors that stick, scrape across the ground, hang crooked, or move out of position often indicate a damaged foundation. When the home’s foundation is damaged and the home shifts out of position, interior doors tend to move with the structure! As floors shift, doors might then tend to scrape, hang open, become too snug, or fail to closely properly at all.
  • Kitchen and bathroom cabinets and countertops pull away from walls when a house shifts and settles. If you notice small gaps between cabinets and countertops and the walls behind them, it’s time to call a foundation repair contractor. Cabinets doors might also begin to hang open or slam shut.
  • As a foundation becomes weak and a house shifts and settles, floors and walls might sag or settle as well. You might notice uneven surfaces; things might start to slide across shelves or pictures suddenly look crooked. You might also notice floorboard beginning to creak and squeak.

What Is Foundation Settling and Do You Need House Leveling?

Homes settle into the ground over time and this process is quite natural. While a foundation might show some hairline cracks during this process, it’s vital to consider if you notice that one side of your house becomes lower than the other or if you seem to notice the interior of your structure sinking.

House leveling often involves literally lifting up one side of the house and then adding beams or other supports to strengthen the foundation on that side, or both sides. This restores the home to a more secure position while also reducing the risk of future foundation damage.

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What Are Your Residential Foundation Repair Options?

You have more options for residential foundation repair than you might realize! Only a residential foundation repair contractor near you can note the best choice for your home, but note some vital information about these options so you know which might be the right one for your house.

  • Steel piers are a favorite choice for residential foundation repair as these vertical beams require less landscaping displacement and less mess overall. The type and placement of steel pier used for your home requires lots of technical configuring but this just ensures that they will last for decades and provide your home the support it needs.
  • Helical piers are beams with rounded supports placed along their length. Helical piers are an excellent option for porches, columns, or structures with vinyl siding, or any lightweight construction that doesn’t require the strength of steel piers.
  • Concrete piers are strong and solid and often more budget-friendly than steel piers but they create far more mess and landscaping displacement, as a foundation repair contractor needs to remove quite a bit of dirt to pour the piers.
  • High-density foam foundation repair is simple and easy to install. A foundation repair contractor fills a checkerboard grid with the foam which is then allowed to dry. High-density foam foundation repair is an excellent choice for lightweight structures and for offering minimal support where needed.

What Happens If You Neglect Needed Foundation Repair?

While no homeowner looks forward to the hassle and cost of home foundation repairs, it’s vital that you never put off needed fixes to your house and especially its foundation! Consider some reasons why you want to ensure you schedule residential foundation repair when needed, without exception:

  • Water seeps into the home through cracks in the foundation. A damp basement is more than uncomfortable; it can lead to dangerous and unhealthy mold growth. Mold eats away at drywall and a home’s wood framework and can lead to serious breathing disorders, skin sensitivities, and other health concerns.
  • As said, cracks along interior walls and floors are a sure sign of needed foundation repair. Putting off those repairs allows cracks to get worse! Cracked floorboards are dangerous for walking while cracks along interior walls leads to gaps that let in outside heat and cold and let out your interior heating and cooling.
  • Cracks and gaps along a home’s foundation allow insects, rodents, and other pests into the home. These pests can cause severe damage to a house, eating away at a home’s framework and electrical wiring, and are also very unhealthy and downright unsafe for humans and pets.
  • Doors and windows tend to stick or refuse to close when a home sinks and settles. Eventually those doors and windows might get outright stuck so that they need to be forced open or closed, creating a safety issue for the home and becoming a tremendous inconvenience!
  • While very rare, a home’s foundation can outright collapse, allowing the house to sink with it. A sunken foundation is very dangerous to occupants and costly to repair; a home might even need demolishing! The cost of residential foundation repair is far cheaper than demolishing and rebuilding a home or fixing a collapsed foundation.
  • The structural stability of a home is an important part of its overall value. A strong foundation protects or even increases that value whereas a damaged, cracked foundation as well as resultant interior damage can decrease a home’s value rather easily.
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How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Foundation?

Only your foundation repair contractor can tell you how much it would cost to repair a foundation in your area, as those costs will depend on the extent of damage, the type of repair chosen for your home, the accessibility of your home and foundation, and if there is any added work needed to keep a home’s foundation secure. For example, a contractor might suggest your property be graded or leveled, to direct water away from the foundation and protect it from heaving and buckling.

Related Questions

How can you decide if you need residential foundation repair?

The best way to get an honest evaluation of your home’s foundation is to hire a structural engineer. An independent or freelance structural engineer has no vested interest in telling you how to fix your home’s foundation, but will just provide you a report of its overall condition and foundation damage.

How do you prevent foundation damage in the first place?

The best way to prevent foundation damage is to have your property’s soil conditions and grading checked by a landscaping engineer, to note if the soil has too much or too little moisture, and if it’s putting pressure on the home’s foundation as well.

How long do residential foundation repairs typically take?

Most residential foundation repairs are completed in less than a week but the extent of damage and work involved, as well as the size of your house, determines how long it will take. If you’re concerned about the length of repairs, ask your residential foundation repair contractor for a guaranteed completion date.

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