When the foundation of a house cracks, the earth can literally move beneath a homeowner’s feet. A house can shift and sink several feet, and so a foundation crack is a problem that must be fixed as soon as possible.
There are a few ways that a cracked foundation can be repaired, and a professional structural engineer should be brought in to assess the problem. Cracked foundation repair is really not a do-it-yourself project unless the homeowner is a structural engineer, and even then they still will need the help of other professionals. The first thing to do is find out why the crack occurred in the first pace. A crack could have been caused by myriad reasons, and if the true reason isn’t found, the method of repair could make the problem worse. This could not only lessen the value of a home, but cause the foundation to fail. Some reasons that can cause a foundation to crack are:
• Sink holes opening up beneath the house.
• A prolonged drought that causes one area of the soil beneath the house to lose water and actually shrink. When one area of the soil loses water and the other doesn’t, the foundation is stressed and it might result in a crack.
• Soil settles because the builder didn’t prepare the site properly.
Repairs may involve:
• Grout pumped beneath the foundation, expanding to fill in the cracks and crevices, then hardening. The grout doesn’t mix with the soil, but gently lifts the foundation. Engineers call this mudjacking.
• Water added to the dry soil. If this is all that’s needed, the house’s foundation can actually be rebalanced. Five foot holes are drilled into the ground around the house. Gravel is shoveled into the holes, and then water is added, either naturally via rain or through a hose.
• Steel piers can be installed beneath the foundation to support it. Sometimes these piers are drilled all the way down to the bedrock and filled with the sort of grout that’s mentioned above. This method gives the house the stability of both the steel piers and mudjacking.
Yes, repairing a cracked foundation can be expensive, but a problem that’s solved quickly for a thousand dollars or so is preferable to a problem that’s allowed to fester and costs the homeowner tens of thousands of dollars in the long run, or may in fact cause them to lose their home altogether!