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Foundation Repair Wiki

Foundation Questions & Answers by JES

Foundation Repair Wiki - Question & Answers by JES

Foundation Repair Wiki

The Foundation Repair Wiki is your guide to the most common foundation repair questions. Learn about the causes of foundation failure or foundation settling and what to look for.

If you still have questions, give us a call at 757-301-4820 to request that a foundation repair inspector come out to your home for free and take a look at your foundation problem. And remember, our experts will come out to your home for free and take a look at your crawl space, foundation, or basement.


Q: What is foundation failure? And what causes it?

A: Foundation failure occurs when your house settles. This can be caused by a few things:

Poor foundation construction
To save money, sometimes builders will use sub-standard steel in the foundation’s construction. This can result in your foundation moving or cracking.

Poor soil preparation
Your foundation is built in a large hole. Once the concrete in your foundation is dry, the hole is filled outside of your foundation. If the soil is compacted properly before the foundation is poured and after, then your home will settle.

Water problems
Too much rain, inadequate drainage or plumbing leaks can all cause foundation problems. Wet soil expands, pushing against your home’s foundation and over time can cause a variety of problems like bowed walls or foundation cracks.

Dry heat
Extended periods of drought or a hot, dry summer will evaporate the moisture from the ground surrounding your home. When the soil dries, it contracts, pulling away from your foundation creating house settling problems.

Large trees
The root ball of a tree is about as wide as the canopy. If a large tree is next to your home and the branches extend over the roof there’s a good chance that the roots are growing under your foundation. The root system will remove the moisture under your foundation which can create settlement problems.

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Q: What are the methods for foundation repair?

A: The methods for foundation repair are:

Foundation underpinning is the process of strengthening and stabilizing your home’s foundation. An underpinning structure is installed beneath your foundation to provide additional support to your home.

For foundation underpinning we typically install a pier system – like JES Helical Piers, JES Push Piers or JES Slab Piers. These pier systems are installed underneath your home and are driven into a stable soil level. These foundation underpinning solutions not only stabilize your home and offer a permanent solution to house settlement but can also raise your home back to its original level.

Foundation Pilings
Foundation pilings are used for deep foundations. Deep foundations are installed into a stable soil level, like bedrock, to provide additional stability and support to your home’s foundation. One type of product used for deep foundations is foundation pilings, or concrete pilings. The foundation pilings are driven into the ground to provide added support to your foundation. Concrete pilings are installed with a pile driver, pounding the piling into the soil. This is a very disruptive process that can cause damage to landscaping or close lying buildings.

Steel Pier Systems
Steel pier systems are used to underpin your home’s foundation. At JES we only use steel pier systems because they are stronger and safer that concrete pilings. The steel piers are tested and approved by professional engineers so will have the peace of mind knowing that they will safely support your home and family. Our patented and proven steel pier systems are designed to withstand the test of time and are a permanent solution to house settlement. The installation is cleaner than concrete pilings, eliminating the stress of heavy machinery damaging your property.

House Leveling
House leveling is the process of restoring your home back to its original level, or position. Before you can invest in house leveling, your foundation needs to be stabilized since your house is sinking because of foundation settlement. Some of our foundation repair solutions can lift your home while stabilizing your foundation.

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Q: I have some small vertical cracks in my basement wall. What causes the cracks?

A: Your basement wall cracks could have a number of causes from house settling to basement waterproofing problems.

Never assume that a small crack is not a problem. Those small vertical cracks in your home’s foundation grow over time, and can be a sign that you have a sinking foundation – a big structural problem!

If left alone, that small vertical crack will expand, letting water into your basement creating mold, water and mildew problems in addition to the foundation problem.

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Q: Can I fix the stair-step cracks in my block foundation?

A: The growing stair step crack is telling you that your foundation is in trouble! This is not a do-it-yourself repair – your home’s foundation need to be fixed by a trusted foundation repair contractor.

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Q: Our home has bowed basement walls. How can I fix this?

A: We all want to be able to fix the problems in our homes, and there are a lot of things you can do on your own.

But this is a case where you should call in an expert. Your foundation is failing. Those bowed basement walls have too much pressure pushing against them which is pushing them in. The walls will collapse if you don’t have your foundation repaired immediately.

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Q: Why is my chimney leaning and bricks cracking?

A: When your home was built, the chimney was probably built on its own foundation.

This means it is completely separate from your home and doesn’t have the additional support needed to stay in place. Your chimney is also the heaviest single part of your home, with all of the weight concentrated on a small area. If the foundation your chimney sits on isn’t built correctly or you have settlement problems, then your chimney is bound to have some problems.

Some experts will recommend just knocking down your chimney but that is expensive, messy and leaves you with an ugly gap on your home.

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Q: What is foundation settling?


A:  Foundation settling happens when the ground your home sits on is no longer able to support the weight of your home. This will cause a shift in your foundation, causing damage to your foundation, basement or crawl space. You can find out if you might have a house settling problem by taking a quick walk around the outside of your home and looking for:

Cracked brick
Cracked or leaning chimney
Cracks in concrete
Cracks in the block foundation
Sinking ground around your foundation or yard
Water gathering near your foundation

After looking for these signs on the outside of your home check the interior:

Drywall cracks, especially around corners, doors and windows
A gap between the wall and baseboard
Uneven floors
Bouncy floors
Sagging floors
Nail pops
Stuck doors or windows
If you have a basement look for cracks or bowed walls

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Q: My house has bouncy, squeaky floors. What can I do to fix them?

A:  A squeaky floor is usually a sign that your floor joists need additional support. Of course you could also have some house settling which can result in some other problems. Both of these are foundation problems that should be addressed by a professional.

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Q: My kitchen has bowing floors. How do I fix this?

A:  It sounds like you have a foundation problem. You’ll have bowing floors when your house settles or there’s a waterproofing problem which can result in wood rot and buckling floors. The only way to repair the bowing floors is to have your foundation repaired by a trusted structural engineer.

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Are You Looking For A Local Foundation Contractor In Virginia, DC, Maryland, or Northeastern North Carolina?

At JES Foundation Repair our team of in-house foundation experts have warranted solutions for foundations of all types.

If you would like a free quote, we’re ready to help you! Call or e-mail us today to schedule an on-site consultation and written quote!

We’re proud to serve all of Hampton Roads, from Virginia Beach throughout Williamsburg and surrounding areas; Northern Virginia, DC, and Southern Maryland. View a complete list of our service area here.

The Experts at JES can Help!request-free-inspection-jes

If you’re not sure of the source of your foundation problem, give us a call at 757-301-4820, and schedule a free inspection. We’ll find out the cause of the problem and help you find the perfect solution.

Get Your Free Homeowner’s Guide!

Homeowners Guide to Foundation Repair

Our Homeowner’s Guide to Foundation Repair is your resource for learning about why you have crawl space problems, and what to look for to see if you have a problem.

Request your free crawl space repair inspection and download your own copy of the e-book immediately, as our thanks for putting your trust in JES.

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