Foundation Repair

Foundation problems can affect your home’s safety, appearance, and value. Repairing your foundation issue before it becomes a big problem is the most affordable and effective solution.

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CAUSES

There are numerous reasons your house may have foundation problems. Most of these causes stem from the ground.

What is foundation settlement?

Simply stated, the settlement is the movement your home experiences when the soil below can no longer support the weight of your home. Homeowners often ask, “Well, the soil has supported my home for years without problems so what has changed?” The answer is… drying and shrinking of soil!

After many months of drought, clay soil dries out. And, as we know, when the clay dries, it shrinks. As the amount of soil around your house shrinks in size, it creates an empty space for your home to settle into.

Some signs of foundation settlement from drought include stair-step cracking, leaning chimneys, cracks above doors or windows, and drywall cracks.

Drought can cause foundation wall failure!

Clay around a home’s foundation expands and contracts as the amount of moisture in the ground increases and decreases. As the soil shrinks during a drought, it releases pressure around the basement walls and creates a void. When it rains and the clay soil gets wet again, it expands. As clay soil expands in size, it puts a lot of pressure on basement walls. When the pressure becomes more than the wall can handle, the wall will begin to push inward, bow or fail completely.

Some signs of wall failure from shrinking and expanding soil are horizontal cracks, shearing at the top and bottom of the wall, and interior stair-steps cracks at corners.

If you’ve seen cracks in your foundation walls or floors, have bowing or buckling walls, or are dealing with uneven floors, your first instinct is to blame the foundation and the way it was built. However, the real cause of the issue may not actually be your foundation, but the soils around it.

When a foundation is dug out and poured, the removed soil is replaced as back fill. Unfortunately, this process can weaken the soil around the foundation and eventually lead to problems. For many homeowners, this is an unknown source of trouble. At Tar Heel Basement Systems, we can identify soil issues around your home and prevent them from causing further issues with your foundation.

When you first move to a new home, you may not give much thought to the trees in the area. You’ll want to take those trees into account, though, if you want to keep your home’s foundation healthy.

Tree roots, as it turns out, can have increasingly detrimental impacts on your home’s foundation. How do trees damage your foundation, and what steps can you take to prevent that damage?

Tree root systems are more expansive than many homeowners think. A healthy root system can easily grow to be the same size as a tree’s canopy. Given their ability to grow so large, many trees can start to impact your home’s overall health. For example, if you’ve planted a tree too close to the perimeter of your home, that tree’s root system will start to interact with your foundation.

That said, tree roots don’t physically start to tear away at the materials making up your foundation. Instead, they move the soil beneath your home. When that soil shifts, your foundation will settle more frequently than it already does. A settling foundation is a foundation that encounters hydrostatic pressure more often than it should. When your foundation is exposed to that kind of pressure, it’s more likely to crack and otherwise suffer damage.

Tree roots can frequently cause unintentional damage around your home.

The soil used to support your home just fine. What changed? Most likely the soil changed.

There are two major changes in soil that can affect your home’s foundation.

  • Dry periods

After months or sometimes years of drought, clay soil dries out. When clay dries, it shrinks. As the amount of soil below your home shrinks in size, an empty space is created for your home to settle into.

  • Wet periods

As clay soil gets wet, it holds onto the water and become very soft. The soft soil can become weak, causing the home to shift or ‘sink’ down into it. In some ways, it is similar to when you step in mud and your foot ‘squishes‘ into the soil.

OR

When it rains and clay soil gets wet, it expands. As clay soils expand in size it puts a lot of pressure on your basement walls. When pressure becomes more than the wall can handle, the wall will begin to push inward.

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FAQs

If you notice the following signs and symptoms in and around your house, you’ve got a problematic foundation on your hands. 

  • Wall Problems 
    • Bowing Walls 
    • Wall Cracks 
    • Sticking Windows & Doors 
    • Collapsing Retaining Walls 
  • Floor Problems 
    • Floor Crack 
    • Sagging Crawl Space 
  • Soil Problems 
    • Foundation Soils 
    • Foundation Settlement 
    • Foundation Heave 
    • Expansive Soils 
  • Additional Problems 
    • Street Creep Damage 
    • Tilting Chimney 

Your house could be falling victim to these issues for several reasons. But there is a common thread that leads to the problems you’re noticing – the ground your home was built on. 

Soil 

The soil under and around your home has a significant impact on the integrity of the structure. Sand, silt, clay, and a mix of any or all these ingredients, make up soil and its texture. Sandy soils tend to quickly drain water, silt soils typically have intermediate drainage properties, and clay soils tend to hold onto water. 

Soil composition maps on NASA Earth Observatory show how much of these ingredients can be found across the country. You can see that North Carolina has a good mix of all of them, but sand and clay stand out as the most common. There are hundreds of soil types throughout the state, and you can get a better idea of what kind of soil you are dealing with by searching your specific area and address in the Web Soil Survey from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. This survey shows locations along the coast have primarily sandy soils, and silt and clay are the frontrunners in more inland areas. 

Here are some different ways soil affects your home’s foundation: 

  • The Clay Bowl Effect and Hydrostatic Pressure
    After your home’s foundation was completely built, previously excavated soil was then backfilled and replaced around the walls. This loose, fluffy, aerated soil is not dense or tightly packed like more stable, undisturbed soil farther away from the house. So, when water collects in the soil directly next to the house, it creates a “clay bowl.” The saturated soil expands and exerts pressure – hydrostatic pressure – on the foundation walls. When this constant force becomes more than the walls can bear, they will begin to show signs of failure in the form of cracks and inward movement. Water also can easily seep through these cracks and further impact the home.
     
  • Soil Settlement and Poor Supporting Soil for Chimneys
    It’s natural for soil to settle over time, and for backfilled soil to settle into place. But as it does, it can do so at an angle. If soil is sloped toward the home and not away from it, water can easily collect around the foundation walls, seep inside, and contribute to hydrostatic pressure. Unevenly settling soil also can lead to uneven settling of your foundation. When this happens, you’ll notice diagonal cracks in drywall and from corners of windows and doors. These windows and doors also may not open or close properly.

    Another foundation issue that is more frightening to see is a cracking and leaning chimney. Chimneys aren’t always built on the same soil or foundation as the rest of the home, and they may not have proper footing. When soil cannot support the weight of the chimney, the chimney will begin to pull away from the rest of the structure.
     
  • Water and Moisture in a Vented Dirt Crawl Space
    Along with the clay bowl effect and hydrostatic pressure, water can enter homes in other ways. Open crawl space vents allow outside air, water, and pests inside. When this happens in dirt crawl spaces that are not properly sealed or encapsulated, it wreaks havoc on the structural support system under the house. Water and moisture in this space will lead to rust and corrosion of metal supports and rotting, warping, and buckling wooden supports. These will ultimately lead to sagging and soft floors.

Maybe the better question is “how can you not benefit from foundation repair?”  

Many people choose to ignore even the slightest foundation problem like a crack in the wall because they think it is not a big deal and that it will somehow go away, and they keep putting off fixing it because of time and budget constraints. This is a dangerous mindset that only allows the problem to continue to worsen, which in turn puts the safety of your house and your family in jeopardy.  

Instead of keeping those problems out of sight and out of mind, tackle them head-on. 

Here are just a couple major perks of finally fixing your foundation the right way: 

  • Protected Safety and Structural Integrity
    Would you feel comfortable knowing your loved ones live in an unsafe environment that could collapse? That’s what will happen if you do not attend to your foundation. When you shore up your foundation and support systems within your house, you are ensuring not only the safety of the structure but the wellbeing of your family as well. A safe, sturdy home is a happy home.
     
  • Enhanced Real Estate Value
    Your house is going to be on the real estate market at some point. Whether that’s now or many years down the road, you need to make sure your house is ready. While various factors can impact a home’s real estate/resale value, structural issues carry a lot of weight. Foundation problems can reduce your home’s resale value by 10 to 30 percent, and buyers could have problems getting a mortgage.

    As a North Carolina homeowner, you are required to complete the State of North Carolina Residential Property and Owners’ Association Disclosure Statement and disclose any known past or current problems. These include any defects with the foundation, slab, floors, interior and exterior walls, or other structural components. Other related items on the checklist are damage from a past infestation of wood-destroying insects which has not been repaired and defects with grading or soil stability.

    Show buyers you care about your home and the finer details by fixing these problems the right way.

One of the burning questions homeowners always have concerns the cost of repair. Which is natural. Money is a big deal, and so is your home. When you purchased your home, you made a long-term investment. So, when it needs work, you want to make sure you’re using the best, cost-effective solutions. 

To give you a general idea, average home improvement spending is around $7,500, and most homeowners pay between $4,000 and $10,000 for foundation repairs. Some average foundation repair product prices include $1,000-$3,000+ per foundation pier, $500-$1,300+ for leveling/slab jacking, and $2,000-$6,000 for sealing/subfloor drainage. 

Check with your insurance carrier regarding any concerns with repair needs and insurance coverage, as all policies are different. Some policies cover losses from fires, but many exclude coverage for issues such as foundation cracks or settling. Coverage may kick in, however, if the foundation has been damaged from other problems like broken plumbing, for example. (Source: SF Gate) 

All that being said, no two foundation problems are alike. Every home is different and requires its own unique repairs. There’s a lot to consider with foundation repair such as the extent of damage, area needing to be repaired, square footage, material needed, etc. This differs from company to company. So be sure to have a thorough discussion with your contractor about pricing and payment. 

Because your safety – and that of your family and your home – is our top priority, we only use the best, trusted solutions proven to effectively repair and protect your home. Manufactured here in the United States, each product is carefully designed and tested by a team of structural and geotechnical engineers. All our systems come with a long-term written warranty, giving you complete peace of mind. 

Our heavy-duty wall reinforcement and piering systems are made with galvanized steel to prevent rust, corrosion, and damage. This protects them against the toughest forces and provides you and your home with a strong, permanent solution. 

Here are the different foundation repair systems we use: 

  • Foundation Wall Repair Systems – Cracking and/or bowing walls can vary in damage and severity, so we offer a few different foundation wall repair and reinforcement options to address their unique challenges. 
  • Carbon Fiber Supports – Durable Carbon Fiber supports firmly adhere to the walls to not only stabilize them but also hold them in their current positions. They also prevent any further wall cracking or movement and are ideal for walls with minimal to moderate issues. These supports have a smooth finish and low profile, so they can easily be concealed with paint or basement finishing materials. 
  • Wall Anchors – Strong galvanized earth anchors are securely embedded in stable soil away from the foundation wall, and they are connected to sturdy steel interior wall anchor plates with long galvanized steel rods. This system will permanently stabilize the wall, as well as offer the best opportunity to straighten it over time. This unique system offers the ability to tighten the anchors when exterior soil shrinks during dry periods. 
  • IntelliBrace™ Beams – IntelliBrace™ beams function the same way as wall anchors in stabilizing and helping straighten shifting walls. They are best to use when there is limited access available outside of the home for exterior wall repair. 
  • Foundation Pier Systems – Only the most durable solutions are used to properly tackle foundation settlement. These pier systems are installed deep into the ground and to more stable soil to permanently stabilize the home and help lift it back to its original position. 
  • Push Piers – Push Piers are driven through a bracket attached to the foundation footing and down to bedrock or a stable soil layer. This is the most used type of pier for most foundation settlement applications. 
  • Helical Piers – Helical Piers are manually advanced or screwed into the ground. These round shaft helicals do not bend like square shaft pieces. These piers generally are used in specialty foundation settlement applications and for light structures like porches. 
  • Slab Piers – Like Push Piers and Helical Piers, Slab Piers are installed in deep, stable strata. But these are specifically used to stabilize your concrete slab foundation and potentially lift your home back toward its original position. 
  • Crawl Space Support Posts – Sagging floor joists or floors above a crawl space or basement call for our high-strength IntelliJacks™. These support posts are engineered to transfer your home’s weight onto stable soils and stop settling. IntelliJacks™ are five times stronger than builder’s grade support jacks, and they can support loads exceeding 60,000 lbs. 

Additionally, we can install the PolyRenewal™ concrete lifting and leveling system. It typically is used on sidewalks, driveways, and other outdoor areas. But we also can execute interior slab leveling. This state-of-the–art repair method can be used to lift, level, and stabilize cracking and sinking concrete slab floors and garage floors. 

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