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Why Is My Foundation Sinking? – When To Call a Foundation Repair Company

July 26, 2023

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Are you a homeowner asking how to repair a sinking foundation? If so, it’s vital that you get your answer quickly! The longer you ignore foundation damage, the worse it gets and the more expensive your eventual repair bills. Additionally, sinking foundations risk costly secondary damage inside and outside your home.

A sinking foundation is repaired using a variety of repair methods which may include helical or steel piers, underpinning, slab jacking, and water management. The choice of method depends on the specific foundation type, soil conditions, and the extent of the sinking or settling.

These are just a few basic foundation repair methods contractors often use for sinking structures. Additionally, they will usually need to patch cracks throughout the property. Also, a contractor might use more than one foundation repair method!

To ensure you’re keeping your home in good condition, check out some added details about these methods. Then, call a foundation repair contractor near you for a foundation inspection. They can evaluate the damage and offer expert advice on needed fixes.

 

how to repair a sinking foundation

How to Repair a Sinking Foundation Like the Pros!

Here are some general steps involved in repairing a sinking foundation:

Assessment and Diagnosis

Assessing damage is the first step to foundation repair. A contractor should inspect your property including the structure and surrounding soil. This allows them to determine why your home’s foundation is sinking!

Soil settlement, poor construction, water damage, or tree roots affecting the foundation are common reasons for a sinking foundation. Depending on the cause, your contractor will then recommend various repair options.

Stabilization

Before attempting repairs, a contractor should stabilize the foundation, to prevent further sinking or settling. They can use various stabilization methods, including foundation piers or underpinning. These transfer the weight of the structure to more stable soil layers or bedrock.

Foundation Pier Installation

Push piers used in installation is a common method for stabilizing a sinking foundation. There are two main pier types your contractor might use:

  • A contractor can drive steel piers into the ground beneath the foundation until they reach stable soil or bedrock. These support the foundation and lift it back to its original position.
  • Screw-like helical piles with attached plates drill into the ground until they reach load-bearing soil. They are often used when a contractor is unsure of the underlying soil conditions.

Underpinning

Underpinning extends the foundation to a deeper, more stable layer of soil or rock. A contractor might use various methods of underpinning, including:

  • Mass concrete underpinning involves excavating sections beneath the existing foundation. A contractor then fills each with concrete, creating new load bearing supports. This method is suitable for smaller buildings and shallow foundations.
  • Mini piles are slender, deep foundation elements drilled into the ground. Made of steel or concrete, their installation depth varies based on the soil conditions. Mini-piled underpinning is ideal for limited access areas or where traditional mass concrete underpinning is not feasible.
  • Beam and base underpinning constructs a reinforced concrete beam below the existing foundation, spanning across excavated pits. These pits, also filled with concrete, form a base of additional support.
  • Cantilevered underpinning uses horizontal beams through the foundation walls. A contractor then excavates the foundation in stages, adding new concrete supports.
  • Screw pile underpinning is similar to helical piers. A contractor twists screw piles into the ground beneath the existing foundation until they reach stable soil. These piles provide a stable platform for the foundation above.

Slab Jacking

Slab or mud jacking involves pumping a slurry of grout or polyurethane foam under the concrete slab. This mixture then floats the structure back into place. A contractor starts by creating excavations around the foundation or through a slab. In addition to dumping the mixture into place, they might also use hydraulic pins to help lift the foundation.

Water Management

Addressing water-related issues ensures expert foundation repair that lasts. A contractor often needs to address drainage problems, install new gutters, and ensure proper grading around the property. These services all direct water away from the foundation and ensure it stays dry and stable over the years.

Repairing Cracks

Additionally, a contractor should repair cracks in the foundation walls or floors. This helps prevent water infiltration and further structural issues. They might also recommend added waterproofing for properties prone to water damage. Waterproofing options include installing specialty membranes around concrete or encapsulating a crawl space.

What Causes Sinking Foundations?

Several factors risk the foundation sinking or settling, including:

  • Over time, the soil beneath a foundation can settle. Soil erosion is one common reason for it to settle! As it does, the soil doesn’t provide needed support for the foundation which can then also sink.
  • If the soil was not adequately compacted during the construction of the foundation, it can compress under the weight of the building. This also risks having a foundation settle and sink.
  • Changes in the moisture content of the soil impact its stability. When the soil becomes excessively wet, it loses its load-bearing capacity, causing the foundation to sink.
  • Some types of soil, such as clay, have high expansion and contraction potential. When soil gets wet, it expands. When it dries out, it contracts. This often causes foundation movement and settlement over time.
  • Improper drainage around a building risks water accumulation near the foundation. This often weakens the soil and causes settling.
  • Large trees have extensive root systems that absorb moisture from the soil. As the soil dries out, it loses its ability to support a foundation, resulting in settlement.
  • Poor construction or design can lead to an unstable foundation that settles over time.
  • Undetected or prolonged plumbing leaks underneath a foundation erode the soil. This creates voids that lead to foundation settlement.cracks caused in foundation due to settling and sinking

Signs of a Sinking Foundation

Knowing the signs of a sinking foundation allows a homeowner to schedule prompt repairs. In turn, you can keep repair costs to a minimum! Also, remember that foundation damage can lower property values. Repairing that damage protects those values and any equity built as well.

Note some common signs of a sinking foundation and call a repair contractor if you notice any of these around your property:

  • Look for vertical, horizontal, or diagonal cracks in the walls, especially near doors and windows. Cracks wider than 1/4 inch are a cause for concern.
  • Check for cracks in the floor, particularly in the basement or on concrete slabs. Uneven or sloping floors are also indicative of a sinking foundation.
  • Doors and windows may become difficult to open or close properly. You may notice gaps or spaces around the frames.
  • Doors may stick or fail to latch as a shifting foundation risks frame misalignment.
  • Cracks or separations between walls and the ceiling often indicate foundation movement.
  • If your home has a chimney, it may start to lean away from the house as the foundation sinks.
  • Examine the exterior of the building for unevenness, such as sagging or sloping.
  • Pools of water forming around the foundation can cause soil erosion, leading to sinking.
  • Basement walls may bow inward due when under pressure from a sinking foundation.

A Word From Our Team

Total Foundation Repair Austin is happy to explain about sinking foundation repair. Hopefully we’ve given you some good information to consider regarding foundation repairs and methods used to fix foundation problems! Also, if you’re in the area, call our Austin foundation repair contractors for a FREE inspection and price quote. We offer a wide range of services for both commercial and residential foundation repair needs.

 

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