Signs that Indicate Foundation Repair Needs
You may have heard the phrase “solid foundation” when it comes to education and knowledge, and relationships and people. This is a figurative phrase, but it also has literal and practical meaning.
You need a solid foundation on which to build a home. Literally.
The actual foundation of your house is crucial for your safety and your family’s well-being. However, many more things could be happening below the surface than you realize.
Whether you regularly go into your basement or hardly at all, it’s important to know what’s supporting the rest of your home. If you see cracks in the walls and think they could be moving, you need to act.
These symptoms of foundation failure can be alarming but don’t panic. The experts at JES Foundation Repair have got you and your home covered with reliable permanent foundation repair solutions and exceptional customer service.
What Do I Need to Do First?
First you need to find the source of your foundation issue.
Have an inspector come to your house to examine the signs of foundation damage.
Soil Causing Foundation Issues
- The type of soil around your home and the health of that soil are major factors affecting your house.
- There are many soil types around the country and the world. But there are three basic ingredients – sand, silt, and clay – that make up all soil types. Maps from NASA Earth Observatory show how much of these ingredients can be found across the United States. Sandy soils that tend to drain water faster can be found in southern states like Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Clay soils that hold onto water and silt soils that tend to have intermediate drainage properties can be found across the country.
- The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation states there are 500 different soils in Virginia. As a homeowner or home buyer, it is very important for you to know what kind of soil you’re dealing with. Virginia has a mix of soil types throughout the state, and you can see what type is in each area by using soil surveys. The Web Soil Survey from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service is a great resource. For example, the Web Soil Survey shows that coastal areas like Virginia Beach have mostly silt and sandy soils, and western parts of the state like Roanoke all three types.
Some ways soil affects a structure’s foundation integrity:
- Clay Bowl Effect
Once the foundation for your home was completed, the soil that was excavated was replaced. This soil is not as dense and tightly packed as undisturbed soil farther away from the house. As a result, water collects in the soil immediately surrounding the home, putting pressure on foundation walls and causing cracks.
A sizeable hole in the ground had to be created when your home was built. The foundation was then poured, which left a gap between the foundation walls and the existing earth. This gap was filled with soil that was removed during the digging process. This fluffy” soil is looser and more aerated than the surrounding soil that may have been compressing for a long time. This looser soil tends to absorb more water than the compacted soil, and more water against the walls leads to hydrostatic pressure.
- Hydrostatic Pressure
When the soil around your home becomes soaked with water and moisture, it expands and puts pressure on your foundation walls. Hydrostatic pressure is the constant force of water pressure on the walls. When this force becomes more than the walls can handle, they will begin to crack and bow inward.
Not only does this affect the structural integrity of the walls, but water also can work its way through any available openings like cracks and gaps around pipes or windows. Any water sitting behind foundation walls will find and fill invisible openings in the porous concrete it touches. This contributes to capillary action and creates a series of tiny veins that allow water to seep inside.
You can read more about hydrostatic pressure and other issues related to the basement and foundation problems on our “What Causes Basement Water Problems?” page.
- Poor Supporting Soil for Chimneys
Chimneys are not always built on the same foundation or soil as the rest of the structure, and they sometimes don’t have the proper footing. When this is the case and the chimney is not properly supported, it will fail over time. If the soil supporting your chimney isn’t strong enough to uphold its weight, the chimney may start sinking, causing it to pull away from the rest of the home and tilt outward.
- Mother Nature
Along with rainstorms, Mother Nature can dish out hurricanes, floods, Nor’easters, earthquakes and other weather events that impact the ground and soil around your home, and your home’s structural integrity.
Water and Moisture in a Vented Crawl Space
- You’ve read how much water can affect the soil around your house, but water and moisture also have a great impact inside the home.
- While building code calls for the outdated practice of vented dirt crawl spaces, this common building technique is harmful to your house. Open crawl space vents allow outside air, water, and pests inside to wreak havoc on this area underneath your house. When wooden support systems become saturated with water or exposed to excessive moisture, they can rot and buckle, and lead to sagging floors.
- This is because of The Stack Effect. The stack effect is the movement of air in your home from bottom to top. This means that whatever is in your crawl space – such as mold, moisture, and humidity – also is in the rest of your house and affecting you.
What Causes Foundation Damage?
Damage to your foundation can be caused by a few things, including poor planning before and during the home’s construction, drainage problems, plumbing, and Mother Nature. All of these can result in your foundation settling, which is when the soil is weakened and unable to support your home.
Poor Foundation Construction
Sometimes low-quality steel is used as structural support for a home’s foundation. This can cause the foundation to move and shift which can result in cracks in the cement, brick or concrete slab.
Leaks From Plumbing
A plumbing leak can create more problems than rotting drywall or wet floors; it can damage the structural support of your home, putting more stress on your home’s foundation.
Poor Drainage or Improper Grade
Poor Soil Condition
This can occur naturally or when the home’s builder does not prepare the soil properly. Prior to laying the cement foundation, the soil needs to be analyzed and prepared, as instructed by a soil engineer, to ensure your home is built on solid ground.
We’re Here To Help You Find The Best Solutions For Your Home…
We’ll work with you every step of the way to make sure that you feel comfortable with your home’s foundation repair solution – from inspection and planning to installation and project completion. Requesting your free inspection takes 60 seconds, and you can download your Printable Homeowner’s Guide to Foundation Repair immediately!
Why Should I Fix My Foundation? What are the Benefits?
Safety and Structural Integrity
The most important thing to think about in your home is safety. If you have a weakening wall that could crumble and collapse tomorrow or even a few years from now, this puts the rest of the house and your family’s safety in danger. Even if you’ve got other renovations or cosmetic projects in mind, remember the phrase about having a strong foundation and focus on that area first. The longer you put these issues out of your mind, the more costly the repairs will be down the road.
Real Estate Value
Various factors impact your home’s appraisal value, but structural integrity, water problems, and other issues are important areas you need to be aware of. When selling your house, it is important to disclose any past or current damage. The Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act includes a “required disclosures for the buyer to beware; buyer to exercise necessary due diligence” section mentioning known defects with structural systems and wood-destroying insect infestation. Disclosing any past or current problems sets clear expectations regarding the quality and condition of the home. A buyer could request to purchase the home for less money if there’s something they need to fix right away, for example.
How Do I Fix These Problems? Can’t I Just Do It Myself?
Now that you’ve seen how important it is to have a structurally stable home, it’s time to act. There are countless do-it-yourself websites, resources, and videos, and it may be tempting to run to the nearest hardware or home improvement store to gather supplies.
But these are not DIY projects that you can tackle in a weekend. No matter how handy you are, foundation repairs are best left to professional contractors. We’ve seen what can happen with quick fixes, and it’s not always pretty. Especially when it comes to real estate transactions, even fast fixes can raise red flags. You’ll then have to spend more time and money to repair the problems.
Here are some pieces of bad advice we’ve heard, and examples of what NOT to do:
- “Monitor the crack until something changes.”
By just waiting it out, the foundation could shift and change the type of solution needed to fix it. This can result in a more costly repair.
- “All the settlement already happened.”
Settlement happens when the soil under the home can no longer support the structure. This means settlement will continue as the weight pushes down on compromised soil.
- “Out of sight, out of mind.”
The problem still exists even if you don’t see it. A cracked or bowing foundation will continue shifting even if it’s covered up. This also means that foundation issues can be hiding behind things like drywall and furniture.
- “Put another wall in front of the bowing wall.”
This will not solve anything. The original wall will continue shifting and potentially push on the new wall as well. A new wall in front also will not support the rest of the home’s foundation.
- “Brace it with wood.”
Nailing boards to a wall will not prevent it from shifting further. Wood is not strong enough to uphold the weight of a foundation. Similarly, using wooden beams or metal pipes placed at 45-degree angles also are not strong enough, and they are extremely space-intrusive.
Make sure the problems are fixed right the first time. We encourage you to educate yourself to make the best decision and sound investment with trustworthy repair solutions from a reliable contractor.
How do I Know Which Contractor to Hire?
We understand that foundation repairs can be daunting undertakings, and that having someone you don’t know in your home for inspections and projects can be overwhelming and unnerving. It’s important to establish a solid relationship and trust with the company you choose to work with.
Some things to think about involve the condition of your home. Before hiring someone to fix your foundation, think about what kind of damage you need to be repaired. Is the concrete damp? Is the foundation cracked or broken? Is a wall tipping? Is there water in the area needing repairing? (Source: Better Business Bureau → JES on BBB)
There are many other factors to consider when choosing a foundation repair contractor such as the company’s integrity and track record, and how the employees carry themselves.
Here are 10 tips for selecting a reputable contractor, courtesy of Popular Mechanics:
- Go with Your Gut. The contractor will be in and around your home, so trust your instinct about his or her character.
- Make Sure the Contractor is Licensed to Work in Your Area, Bonded, and Insured. Carrying the proper licensing and insurance indicates credibility, knowledge, and trustworthiness.
- Pick a Contractor Who Specializes in Your Project Type. Experience through research, training, and hands-on work in the field matters.
- Have a Detailed Contract in Place Before Any Work Begins. Having detailed plans and everything in writing spells out expectations so there are no surprises.
- Find Out Who Will Be Performing the Work. Knowing exactly who will be coming to your home will give you peace of mind.
- Give the Contractor Guidelines for Working In/Around Your Home. Let the company know of your preferences including arrival times and any off-limit areas of your property.
- Know What Your Responsibilities Are. If you need to move anything out of the way or need to plan for pet accommodations, it’s best to get that out of the way before the project starts.
- Ask About a Mechanic’s Lien. Check on the contractor’s legal status before signing anything.
- Look at Work Samples. This will allow you to see the quality of the work and maybe even spark some ideas for your own project.
- Think Locally. Support the local companies that have been in business and in the community for a long time.
We at JES are proud to meet and exceed expectations on these points. We encourage you to check out our reviews from actual customers to learn about their experiences with us!
How Can JES Help Me?
The expert team at JES Foundation Repair is eager to help you create a safer and healthier home! We will provide you with a contractor experience like you’ve never had before. That’s The JES Difference!
After contacting us to discuss your foundation issues, we’ll set up an appointment for you to meet with one of our certified field inspectors for a free inspection and no-obligation estimate. This consultation will include:
- A thorough evaluation of the home’s interior and exterior. This includes looking for sources of water such as cracks.
- Discussing your goals with a repair project.
- A same-day proposal of recommended repair solutions.
- Customized solutions uniquely designed to meet your repair needs.
- Discussing payment and financing options.
If you decide to move forward with a repair project, we’ll work with you to schedule that works with one of our highly trained installation crews. Our team will use the best products proven to repair and protect your home. We will work until you are 100% satisfied with the job. We also provide service and annual maintenance opportunities to ensure the solutions we installed are continuing to maintain your home’s safety and structural integrity.
Wow! This guy was really on the ball and helpful. Turns out we didn’t have foundation damage and he took the time to explain how he knew this and what he thought was the problem. And when I asked other questions he was really helpful and nice. I would definitely recommend and use in the future.
~ Beatrice W.
What Will JES Use to Fix My Foundation?
We can’t control the weather or the soil outside your home, but we can control what’s inside your house and supporting the rest of the structure.
We use only the best foundation repair solutions. The products we use are manufactured right here in the United States, and they are tested and proven to permanently repair and protect your home.
Engineered to withstand the toughest forces, our dependable wall reinforcement and piering systems are made with galvanized steel to prevent rust, corrosion and damage, offering you a strong and permanent solution.
Wall Repair and Reinforcing Systems
We offer a few different options to repair cracking and/or bowing walls, depending on the severity of the issues.
- Carbon Fiber
- Long lasting Carbon Fiber supports firmly bond to the walls to stabilize them and hold them in their current positions. Their low profile and smooth finish allow them to easily be painted or concealed by basement finishing materials.
- Wall Anchors stabilize cracking walls that also are leaning or bowing. They extend out to stable, hard-packed soil beyond your home’s foundation, providing an anchor point to brace the foundation walls. The interior anchor plates can be tightened to help move the foundation walls toward their original position.
- IntelliBrace™ beams act the same as Wall Anchors in stabilizing and helping to straighten shifting walls. They are ideal when there is limited access available outside of the home for exterior wall repair.
Foundation and Support System Reinforcements
Foundation settlement calls for strong, durable solutions that will stabilize and help return the structure back to level.
- At five times the strength of builder’s grade support jacks, IntelliJacks™ can be used to stabilized and lift sagging floor joists and floors above your basement or crawl space.
- Push Piers
- Push Piers are installed in deep stable soil strata to stabilize your foundation and lift your home back toward its original position. This is the most used type of pier for most foundation settlement applications.
- Helical Piers
- Helical Piers that are manually advanced or screwed into the ground are a permanent piering solution used in specialty foundation settlement applications and for very light structures.
- Slab Piers
- Slab Piers are installed in deep stable soil strata to stabilize your concrete slab foundation and lift your home back toward its original position.
How Much is Foundation Repair Going to Cost Me?
The cost of repair is one of the most frequently asked questions regarding any foundation repair. And we know how frustrating it can be to not get an exact number or even ballpark figure when doing your research or calling our office.
The reason we cannot give you a straight answer right away is there’s a lot to consider. That’s why it is crucial for one of our inspectors to physically visit your house and look at exactly what is going on with the foundation.
Things like the extent of any damage, square footage and material usage also go into the mix. And our inspector will customize the solutions to your specific needs. Our repairs are not “one size fits all,” so what may have worked for a friend or neighbor might not be what your home needs. Every home is different and requires its own unique repairs.
The inspector you meet also will take your repair goals and budget into consideration. He isn’t a typical salesman just out to add to his numbers, and he will not force any unnecessary products on you. He also can go over any payment concerns and financing options.
Most homeowners spend between $4,000 to $10,000 to repair various foundation-related issues. According to various external sources, average home improvement spending totaled $7,560 in 2018. Homeowners have been spending more on home improvement rather than home maintenance, and list replacing or repairing damage, defects, and decay as the top reason for spending money on these projects.
If you are concerned with repair needs and insurance coverage, be sure to check with your insurance carrier, as all policies are different. While some policies cover losses from fires, many exclude coverage for issues such as foundation cracks or settling. Coverage may kick in if the foundation has been damaged from other problems like broken plumbing, for example. (Source: SF Gate)
Can you put a price on your family’s health, safety and happiness? When you choose to work with us, what you are really investing in is peace of mind.
Foundation Repair Solutions
We believe that you deserve only the best. All of our foundation repair solutions are custom designed for your home. And all of our foundation repair experts are extensively trained and certified by our team of Professional Engineers.
If your home needs foundation repair, we use only the best products to fix the problem. Learn more about the foundation repair solutions that we recommend.