Horizontal Foundation Cracks
When it comes to our homes, one of the most important parts is the foundation. Since it’s the base upon which your entire house is built, you need it to stay strong and resolute for as long as possible. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, many foundations only last for a little while before needing foundation repair. For your convenience, we’ve outlined the major causes and solutions of such problems, should you ever need them.
One of the more common foundation issues is cracking. Although concrete is a durable and robust material, it is not impervious to damage, especially when exposed to large amounts of stress and pressure over an extended period.
Unfortunately, cracks in your foundation, especially horizontal foundation cracks, can lead to huge problems down the road. Even a small split can get worse over time and result in a collapse or foundation failure.
How do you know if a crack is serious or not? Here are some general guidelines to help you figure out if this is a significant or minor problem.
- - If the cracks appear to be wider at the top than at the bottom, this can indicate signs of bowing or slow collapsing
- - If you can see that the walls are not level, this means sinking is happening, which can cause cracks
- - If doors, cabinets, and windows are not closing properly, tis may indicate that the foundation is damaged or sinking
- - If there are cracks in drywall or plaster, this is a good indicator of foundation damage
- - If you can fit a dime into the crack, that indicates a serious problem
How can you repair a horizontal foundation crack? Generally, there are two options you can choose. First, you can use a foundation anchor or a foundation pier. Here is what to expect with each one.
A foundation anchor is one of the best solutions to cracking or bowing. The way it works is that a section of earth is cut out around the foundation, and the anchor is placed within. A steel rod is then inserted through the foundation wall and into the anchor. On the inside, a metal plate is attached to the rod and tightened. Over time the plate may be re-tightened so as to get the foundation back into its original shape.
If your home is sinking, then an anchor won’t fix the problem. For that, you’ll need a foundation pier that will support it from below.
Sinking Foundation Help
Sometimes, the Earth beneath our homes is not as stable. In some cases, your foundation may be set upon dirt or soil that may compress or collapse over time. If this happens, your house will start to sink, which can cause many serious problems. Fortunately, there is a solution in the form of foundation piers. Typically speaking, these piers are a permanent solution to a sinking foundation, and there are two varieties: Helical and Push.
These foundation piers are excellent for smaller foundations, such as a patio or an individual room of a house.
They are relatively easy to install and lightweight, which means that they are not ideal for an entire home or large structure.
The Helical pier works by embedding a steel shaft into the ground beneath the foundation which is then attached by a steel bracket. The shaft has a corkscrew tip to help it drill down into the earth.
These piers can help straighten a sinking foundation, but they are not precise and do not protect against water damage.
For larger structures that carry more weight, push piers are the best solution. They way that these work is that they go into the ground until they hit supporting strata, such as bedrock. The principal method is still the same, but they don’t require as much space for digging. Once the foundation pier is set, it is attached to the foundation with a bracket. Push piers are fantastic for any sinking homes or buildings that need extra support, and they can help repair cracks in the walls and floors that are caused by sinking.
Underpinning Your Foundation
In addition to using foundation piers, you can also underpin your foundation if the soil beneath it is not as solid as it should be. There are three methods of underpinning, and while each one is excellent at fixing the problem, it will be up to a professional to decide which one is best for your home.
The first method of underpinning is the excavation of soil beneath the foundation and the pouring of concrete into the hole. As the concrete hardens, it becomes more stable than the soil surrounding it, thus preventing any long term damage.
Beam and Base
This method is similar to mass concrete, in that the ground is dug up and concrete is poured. However, instead of having that concrete rest directly below the foundation, beams are installed to spread the weight evenly. Once the base is set, concrete beams are constructed, and are attached to the base.
Mini-piling is similar to foundation piers in that you install small vertical shafts to help repair foundation cracks to keep everything level. Typically, the piles will go down to stable ground, such as bedrock, so the foundation has much more stability overall. These pilings are much easier to install than mass concrete and still have similar results.
Hydraulic Cement Repair
Often, when it came to foundation cracks, the go-to solution was to seal it with hydraulic cement. However, these days, most repairmen don’t use hydraulic cement as it doesn’t provide a permanent solution and will not last long. To fully fix any cracks that occur, you need a wall anchor or a foundation pier. Similarly, for smaller cracks, you can inject the wall with epoxy or resin that will set and keep the integrity of your foundation intact.