Stabilizing your home's foundation is serious business. First, you'll need a trustworthy, specialized contractor. Next, you'll need to be sure they can offer solutions that will solve your problem permanently. There are many solutions to choose from, and of course, some are more effective than others. In situations like these, what you don't know can hurt you.
Fix and Protect
If you're wondering, "Is there anything I can do to prevent this damage from occurring to the rest of my home," we have good news. Some of the very solutions used to fix existing problems can be used to prevent further damage to other areas of your home. At Total Foundation Solutions we discuss how to best protect your home during our free, no obligation inspection.
Options to Avoid
As your looking for the right solution for your settling foundation, you may come across many options. But some options don't work at all. How do you know which is which? That's where we come in.
Total Foundation Replacement
This process includes first excavating the soil from around your foundation walls. Then, the house is jacked up and the slab floor and foundation walls are removed. Finally, the foundation is rebuilt, the home is lowered and the soil is replaced. If someone advises you to consider this option, they may not understand the underlying causes of the foundation settlement. It isn't the foundation itself that is 'broken,' but issues with the soils surrounding the home that are causing the foundation to weaken and fail.
Not only is replacement extremely disruptive and expensive, but it doesn't address the actual issue - the soil! You've simply build a new foundation in the same troublesome soil, so you can expect the new foundation will 'break' just like the old one.
With this process, soil is first excavated from around your foundation. Once this is complete, larger concrete footings are poured beneath the existing footings. Once the concrete has cured, the soil is backfilled. This may seem like a logical choice: if a footing is designed to carry the weight of the home, then a bigger footing should be better. Contractors who are not specialized in foundation repair may not know any other way to address the problem.
Concrete underpinning typically does not extend beyond the problem soils. it sits on top of them, just like your current footing. In other words, the soil beneath these newly beefed-up footings may still be moving, causing your home above to continue to move. In addition, you've just added more weight - a lot more - to weak soils already struggling to hold up your home. When concrete underpinning is used, and the problem continues, it is MUCH more expensive to repair. All of the added concrete must first be removed before a proper, permanent fix can be installed.
This process uses short, blunt concrete cylinders that are pushed into the soil on top of one another, held together loosely by a wire. Shims are then placed on top of the uppermost concrete cylinder, and the soil is backfilled. It may seem reasonable that since concrete is a very strong material, this could be the answer to a foundation settlement problem
Unfortunately, this option is not an answer to the problem. The blunt concrete cylinders are wide in diameter (about six to eight inches), making it difficult to push the sections deep into the ground and past the problem soil. There is also nothing to guide the direction of the pier, so they often are not installed correctly. Finally, although concrete is a strong material, we've all seen concrete crack and break under pressure and during changes in temperature. Just take a look at all of the cracks in concrete streets and parking lots. If concrete peirs were a great idea, all manufacturers of foundation repair products would offer them. Instead, only a few companies struggle with this approach.