I’m here today with Rodger Clark of Christian Brothers Pier Systems to talk about a problem that may not always be easy to spot and an even bigger mystery as to how it can be remedied properly. The foundation of your home is a part of the structure that probably doesn’t get enough recognition for its importance in your homes well-being.
Q: What causes foundation problems to occur?
A: The short answer is water; essentially, the amount of water in the soil surrounding your foundation. When there’s lots of water, it causes the soil to swell, which puts pressure on your foundation. When the soil beneath and surrounding your home’s foundation swells and retracts as a whole, it’s less likely to cause a problem versus when only a certain area swells and retracts. This swelling and retracting can cause cracks and other damages.
Q: How can a person tell if their home has a problem?
A: Foundation problems typically start out small and get big fairly quick. The best way to find out if you have a foundation issue is to contact a reputable company. Alternatively, there are a few things you can look for prior to doing that. If you notice cracks in your drywall or plaster, around door and window frames, and in the mortar in the exterior bricks of your home then you might have a foundation issue. These cracks can be caused by movement in the foundation. Other indicators can be sloping floors and a leaky basement.
Q: What are some common misconceptions homeowners may have about foundation repair?
A: Many homeowners think that cracks in their mortar and drywall indicate where the problem is. Actually, the cracks generally indicate where a foundation problem doesn’t exist. Cracks are the bending point of the foundation and act as a type of hinge where either one side or the other near the crack is the area that has sunk.
Another common misconception is that simply filling the void underneath the foundation will solve the problem. There are two issues with this as a solution. First of all, the foundation has moved from its original position and simply filling underneath it won’t raise it back up to a level and firm position. Secondly, filling the area will not result in a firm support for the foundation. Packing the area with dirt isn’t enough to support the existing structure anymore as the earth surrounding and underneath the foundation has ultimately been compromised. Foundations should have thick beams around their exterior in a grid pattern, where the weight of the home is dispersed over these beams and not the concrete pad itself.
Q: What repair methods does your company use?
A: One of the most common ways we repair foundations is through a method called piering, or pier and beam. It involves placing underground piers that lift and support your foundation. These piers take the weight off of the structure’s existing foundation and unstable soil.
Q: How long do repairs typically take?
A: Typically, foundation repairs can be done in about 1 – 2 days, but depending on the extent of the damage they could take longer. A professional assessment from a reputable company will indicate more accurately how long repairs will take.
Q: Can cracks in mortar and drywall be fixed as soon as the foundation repair is complete?
A: Once your foundation has been repaired and your home has been lifted back to its original position, you should wait at least 4 – 6 weeks prior to repairing cosmetic cracks in mortar, plaster, or drywall. Essentially, the wall may need to adjust as they are in a new position and there is a chance for additional cracks or subsequent movement.
Q: Can foundation repairs and house leveling be postponed?
A: The decision is yours to make, but the sooner your repair the foundation issues with your home, the more stable your home will be. Foundation problems indicate that the structural integrity of your home has been compromised, which means it is not as safe as it can be. Postponing foundation repairs can also lead to more costly issues in the future. Additionally, if your home is in a seismically active area, these issues are amplified. Overall, we don’t recommend putting off foundation repairs no matter how big or small they are.
Q: Will the work that needs to be done affect the yard or the landscaping?
A: Foundation repairs will have an impact on the landscaping directly surrounding your home. We do our best to avoid damaging or removing bushes and trees and will consult with you prior to removing them, but sometimes it’s inevitable.
Q: Do foundation repairs affect the plumbing?
A: Whenever your foundation moves or settles in a different position than originally intended, the plumbing underneath and attached to different areas of the foundation can sustain damage. Additionally, plumbing components can be damaged when a house is being lifted back to its original position after foundation damage has occurred. Having a plumbing inspection done after your foundation is repaired is typically a good idea.
Q: Can the house be sold once the repairs are complete?
A: Yes, as long as the repairs are made by a company that has the necessary knowledge, experience, and certifications and they follow proper codes to ensure your home’s foundation is properly repaired. Once you decide to sell your home, you must disclose that foundation repairs have been done. Your real estate professional can assist you with all of the details.
Q: Is there any type of guarantee on the repairs made to the foundation?
A: Yes. A reputable company will always provide a warranty. We provide a warranty which is transferrable to the next homeowner, on all foundation repair work.
Q: Are foundation repairs covered by insurance?
A: Some insurance providers will help you cover the cost of repairs, although the specifics of their coverage vary from one company to the next. We communicate with our clients insurance companies on their behalf to help them understand their insurance policy and coverage.