Foundation Repair Problem Signs
Whether you just spotted movement recently or put wall cracks out of your mind, now is the time to act. Fix these problems the right way the first time to ensure the health and safety of your home and family.
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Any problem with a home can be distressing, and doubly so when there’s a problem with your foundation. Foundation problems related to sticking windows and doors are among the most obvious and inconvenient of them all.
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Foundation walls move inward primarily due to expansive soils and hydrostatic pressure on the walls from outside.
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Foundation wall cracks have several different causes, and each has its own unique solution.
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Some types of soil are stronger than others. There are usually a number different soil layers underneath a house. Foundation settlement can occur when one of these soil layers can’t support the weight of the home.
Are you seeing wall cracks or drywall nail pops throughout your home? Do your floors feel like they are bouncy or uneven? Are you having trouble operating sticking windows or doors? These are problem signs indicating foundation damage, and they are common in homes new and old throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. They may not be a surprise to homeowners like you, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with them. Addressing foundation issues early lets you repair and protect your home before serious damage happens. Learn how our expert team at Mount Valley Foundation Services can help by diagnosing the problem and providing the best permanent solutions.
Causes of Foundation Damage
Foundation issues can happen for a variety of reasons – unstable soil, improper grading, and expansive soils, just to name a few. But all of these have a common thread – the ground your home was built on. The soil under and around your house has a huge impact on the structure.
After your home’s foundation was completed, previously excavated soil was replaced around the walls. This loose, fluffy soil is not as dense or tightly packed as undisturbed soil farther away from the house. So, when water collects in the soil immediately surrounding the home it creates a “clay bowl.” The saturated soil expands and puts pressure, known as hydrostatic pressure, on foundation walls. When this constant pressure becomes more than the walls can bear, they will begin to show signs of failure in the form of cracks and inward movement.
It is natural for soil to settle over time. But as the backfilled soil around your exterior foundation walls sinks into place, it can slope towards the house. This allows water to easily collect and then seep in through the walls. Soil also can settle unevenly and lead to other problems in your house. You could see diagonal cracks in drywall and from corners of windows and doors. These windows and doors also may not open or close properly.
If you have a fireplace in your home, you need to keep an eye on the chimney. The chimney could show some dramatic signs of foundation failure such as cracking and leaning away from the rest of the structure. These problems can happen if the chimney foundation was not built on the same foundation or soil as the rest of the structure or if the foundation lacks the proper footing.
While many trees improve the appearance of your property, they also could pose a threat. Some tree species have aggressive root systems that spread out in search of food and nutrients. As they grow and move through the soil doing so, they could move the soil next to and underneath your foundation. Any voids can lead to settlement and wall cracks. Additionally, roots can potentially grow into any foundation cracks and cause further damage. Because of this danger from trees, bushes, and their root systems, it is best to plant these landscaping features at least 20 feet away from your foundation.
Similar to the footing drains, any exterior drainage systems also can pose a problem. Clogged gutters can allow water to spill out and directly onto the foundation and cause problems with seepage. Any above-ground gutter-downspout and downspout conductor lines can let water drain too close to the walls and seep inside. Any buried lines also could break or collapse and lead to puddles or a backup of water.
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Foundation Repair Solutions
Foundation damage doesn’t mean the end of your home’s lifespan. Various issues can be repaired, and your foundation restored in most cases. It just takes the right solution from the right company. We at Mount Valley Foundation Services offer a range of solutions to meet your home’s specific repair needs. From foundation piers and crawl space support posts to specialized wall anchors and beams, here are some of the solutions your inspector might recommend for your home.
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With knowledge of local soil conditions, helical piers can be an ideal solution because the installing contractor will know exactly how deep to install the piers to reach a stable soil layer than can support your home.
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The IntelliJack™ Crawl Space Floor Support system provides solid support for sagging and undersized beams, restoring stability and straightness to sagging floor joists in a crawl space.
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The IntelliBrace™ System is a patented foundation wall repair system that’s designed to stabilize failing basement walls and provide the potential to straighten walls over time
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Push piers can be installed inside or outside your foundation walls and are not visible once the repair is complete.
Is Foundation Repair the Right Solution for Me?
You may be wondering how your foundation became damaged in the first place. Many factors are at play, and damage can result from a variety of causes. While faulty construction can be a source, the most common causes of foundation problems are the soil a home was built upon, the area’s weather, and how the two interact.
For example, Greenville’s abundant rainfall and unique soil with rocks and sandy clay loam mean homeowners can experience a wide variety of foundation problems. Mold and wood rot can attack crawl spaces in Charleston, which has generally well-drained sandy soil but is incredibly hot and humid. Savannah’s humid subtropical climate, coupled with the area’s clay soil, leads to excessive hydrostatic pressure, which leads to wall cracking, bowing, and leaking.
We can’t control the weather or all the soil on your property, but we can control how your home reacts to these environmental factors. Our range of solutions will permanently stabilize your faulty foundation and help restore it to a nearly pristine condition.
Foundations settle in three different ways, with some ways being more disruptive than others. First, there is uniform settlement, which is when the house begins to sink evenly. This form of settling is uncommon since soil almost never erodes evenly, but it can happen. The most obvious signs associated with this kind of settling are warped and detached handrails from front porches and decks. These parts of the home are separate from the foundation, so when the house begins to sink, these attached areas will begin to detach from the rest of the structure.
The second form of settling is called tipping settlement, and it’s when the house begins to sink to one side. With this form of settling, the foundation remains intact, so cracks are minimal, though this doesn’t mean it will always stay this way. The most obvious signs of tilting settlement are uneven floors, tilted chimneys, basement leaks, and detached decks and front porches. Again, just because there are no cracks in the foundation with tilting settlement doesn’t mean your home’s structure is safe. If allowed to advance, then this form of settling can easily turn into the most disruptive type of settling: differential settlement.
Differential settlement is when a portion of your foundation begins to break off from the house and settle against uneven soil. With this kind of settling, foundation cracks are common, which leads to basement flooding with groundwater, warped window and door frames, damaged floor joists, upstairs wall and ceiling cracks, and a less energy efficient home. The other kinds of settling are bad news for your home, but differential settlement is so destructive; it costs you much more in repairs. The moment you suspect that the foundation of your Charleston home is settling in this way, call us for a free home inspection and fast, permanent repair solutions.
When you contact us, you can speak to one of our customer care representatives about your crawl space concerns. We will then work with you to schedule an appointment for a free inspection and estimate with one of our certified field inspectors.
Here’s what you can expect during this consultation. The inspector will:
- Complete a thorough evaluation of your home’s interior and exterior. This includes going into the crawl space to check the condition of the area including any water intrusion, damage, pests, etc.
- Discuss his findings with you, as well as your goals with a repair project.
- Offer customized solutions that best fit your repair needs.
- Provide you with a proposal of recommended solutions before leaving your house.
- Discuss payment and financing options with you.
Then, if you decide to move forward with a repair project, we will work to schedule your repairs with one of our highly trained installation crews. Our crew members will treat your home as their own, with the utmost care and respect. They will use world-class solutions for your repairs, and their work is not complete until you are 100% satisfied with the job. If something crops up after installation, we will return to fix any issues. We also offer various service and maintenance opportunities to protect our work and your home.
Along with writing a review about your experience with us, it would mean the world to us if you would refer us to your friends and family!
And now down to brass tacks. Undoubtedly, the cost of repair is a huge concern for homeowners. And that’s natural. Money matters, and so does your home. You want to make sure you’re protecting your house with the best, cost-effective solutions.
There is a lot to consider with foundation repair such as the extent of damage, the area needing to be repaired, square footage, the material needed, labor, etc. This differs from company to company. So be sure to have a thorough discussion with your contractor about pricing and payment.
Also, no two foundation problems are alike, and there are no one-size-fits-all fixes. Every home is different and requires its own unique repairs. So, what may have been the answer for a friend or neighbor might not be a perfect fit for your home’s repair needs. That’s why it’s so important for one of our inspectors to physically visit your house and look at your foundation problems. That way, he’ll be able to properly diagnose the issues and recommend the best, customized solutions.
To give you an 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 are $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 concerns with repair needs and insurance coverage, as all policies are different. Some policies may cover losses from fires, but many exclude coverage for issues such as foundation cracks or settling. But coverage may kick in if the foundation has been damaged from other problems like broken plumbing, for example. (Source: SF Gate)
You wouldn’t want just any old item quickly thrown together with the hope of it keeping your foundation intact. You need the very best solutions that will stand the test of time and the toughest forces to protect your home. That is exactly what we use to repair your foundation.
The products we install are manufactured here in the United States, and each one is carefully designed and tested by a team of structural and geotechnical engineers. Our heavy-duty wall reinforcement and piering solutions are made with galvanized steel to prevent rust, corrosion, and damage. All our systems come with a long-term written warranty, giving you complete peace of mind.
Here are the solutions we’ll use to address foundation problems in your home:
Wall Repair and Reinforcements – The severity of your foundation wall problems can vary, so we offer a variety of repair and reinforcement options.
- Wall Anchors – Wall Anchors are the most effective method for permanently stabilizing moderate to severely distressed or bowed basement walls. They extend out to more stable soil well beyond your home’s foundation, providing an anchor point to brace the foundation wall. This stops inward movement and prevents wall failure. The anchors can be tightened over time to help move your foundation walls back toward their original positions.
- IntelliBrace™ Beams – IntelliBrace™ beams act the same way as Wall Anchors in stabilizing and potentially straightening moving walls, and they also can be tightened at intervals during dry seasons. They are best to use when there is limited access available outside of the home for exterior wall repair.
- Carbon Fiber Supports – Durable Carbon Fiber supports firmly bond to the walls to stabilize and hold them in their current positions. This prevents any further cracks or inward movement. Their low profile and smooth finish allow them to easily be concealed with painted or basement finishing materials.
Piering Systems – Our foundation pier systems are used on settling foundations and walls to permanently stabilize them and help lift them back to their original level positions. Each system is installed in deep soil strata to better support the foundation.
- 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 and are best for specialty foundation settlement applications and for very light structures like porches.
- Slab Piers – Slab Piers can be installed the same way as Push Piers and Helical Piers and are used to stabilize your concrete slab foundation.
Crawl Space Supports – Floors and floor joists above crawl spaces and basements can sag over time and if they are not properly supported. Our IntelliJack™ system, designed to stop settling, stabilizes these sagging areas and can help lift them back to level.
Additionally, our state-of-the-art PolyRenewal™ system can be used to lift, level, and stabilize cracking and uneven concrete slab floors in your home and garage.
The best foundation repair solutions for a settling Greenville home are push piers and helical piers. Foundations settle because the soil that was supposed to support them began to shift, thus becoming unreliable. Foundation piers are then used to stabilize the home and provide a support system that doesn’t rely on a volatile material like surface soil. There is one thing that many get wrong about foundation piers, and it’s that the house is supported by the piers alone. However, the piers transfer the majority of the home’s weight to the load-bearing soils deep underground that do not erode as easily as topsoil.
The main difference between helical piers and push piers is the way they function to stabilize the house. Helical piers are steel rods with helix blades welded to one of the ends. The helix blades help the rods get mechanically driven into the soil until reaching the needed depth. Helical piers have trouble going through sedimentary rock, so it might not be the best pier type for you if the terrain on your property is on the rougher side. Helical piers can support a tremendous amount of weight, but if your home is too heavy, push piers will be needed.
Push piers are typically used for larger buildings because they rely on a counterweight to stay underground. They do not have helix blades, and, instead of being drilled into the ground, they are hydraulically pushed in—hence the name. Push piers exert an incredible amount of pressure on the foundation, stabilizing it and even lifting it up on occasion. The house needs to return that pressure right back so that everything stays even. Push piers do better on tougher soils and are able to push through sedimentary rock better than helical piers.
It’s a sad day in the average homeowner’s life when they step around their house and feel the floor sag. A sagging floor is never a good thing since it indicates that something is wrong with the way your foundation is supporting the floorboards. There are two reasons as to why a floor would sag, and neither of them has to do with the floorboards themselves; so, keep reading before you go to your local home improvement store looking for floorboard replacements. A sagging floor is a problem sign for two even bigger issues that are developing around your home: foundation settling and foundation humidity.
When the soil under your Augusta-Aiken home can no longer support your foundation, the house begins to sink, and, in some cases, it also begins to shift to one side. As the house begins to distribute the weight of the home unevenly, your floor joists will begin shifting along with the house. If your floor is sagging due to foundation settling, then you need to check for other signs of it, and get it repaired as soon as you can. Sagging floors are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the damage your home will face if the problem is allowed to persist.
Wood rot is another potential cause for the floor sagging. It indicates that your basement or crawl space is humid enough to allow mold to grow. The floor joists become infected with fungi, which slowly eat away at it until the wood becomes soft and weak. If you don’t do something about the wood rot quickly, then the floor sag will only get worse until the floorboards are so unsupported that they break apart. Besides simply replacing the wood, you need to make sure that your foundation is dry to deter future mold growth.
Why is Foundation Repair Needed?
Foundation damage can impact your home and your family in many ways. Here are some reasons why it is important to repair your foundation.
Sometimes, foundation problems can be caused by or lead to other issues on your property. This includes your crawl space and exterior concrete. For example, heaving exterior concrete also can point to issues in your foundation, and uneven floors can be caused by damage in the crawl space.
Safety and Structural Integrity
A damaged foundation negatively impacts the safety and overall structural integrity of your home. If a wall or floor is severely damaged, it can lead to partial or complete collapse, which is a dangerous situation.
Home Value and Appearance
Cracking, bowing walls, and uneven floors not only look bad, but they can diminish the value of your home. This is particularly important to consider when selling your home. Buyers can instantly walk away or ask for a reduction in price if they discover foundation problems that need to be fixed.
Common Foundation Repair Tips & Mistakes
During our 30+ years of experience in the foundation repair industry, we have heard and seen it all. We genuinely care about you and your home and family, which is why we want to empower you with knowledge about how to handle foundation repair and what to stay away from.
- Stay Vigilant
Being a homeowner comes with other responsibilities than just the mortgage. It’s important to always keep an eye on your home and its foundation, looking for potential signs of damage. Noticing slight changes early on can help prevent further damage and expensive repairs.
- Check Other Areas for Damage
In your effort to inspect and maintain your home, make sure to monitor your entire property, not just your foundation. Damage to your foundation could potentially be connected to problems in other areas like your crawl space, basement, or exterior concrete.
- Trust Local Foundation Experts
Knowing exactly what to look for can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to address your foundation concerns alone. Our expert team at Mount Valley Foundation Services takes the guesswork out of foundation inspections. During your free inspection, we will accurately diagnose your foundation issues and recommend the best way to fix them that makes sense for your home and your budget.
- Leaving Issues Unrepaired
Fixing your foundation may not be as exciting a project as installing new countertops, but it is important, nonetheless. It may be tempting to put issues like wall cracks on the back burner, but they won’t go away on their own. They will only continue to worsen and could eventually lead to severe damage and expensive repairs.
- Installing Cosmetic or Temporary Solutions
Foundation issues like wall cracks have a cause behind them. Adding some spackle, paint, or caulk conceals their appearance but doesn’t address why they are happening. Similarly, placing wooden beams as intended braces against walls will not stop them from moving altogether. These kinds of temporary solutions will only hold up for so long.
- Investing in Other DIY Repairs
The aforementioned fixes are DIY projects some homeowners attempt in an effort to stave off foundation repairs. But, as we’ve mentioned, those solutions are only temporary. Handling some projects on your own is understandable, but your foundation is a complex, delicate, and often dangerous feature. It’s important to have the right solutions installed to protect your foundation from any further damage and leaving this to your local foundation experts is the best thing you can do for your home.
Find your service area
The area around Columbia has some of the hottest temperatures in the state. When you add humidity, it can affect basements, crawl spaces, or concrete slabs in a very serious way.
Like most parts of South Carolina, Greenville’s hot, humid weather means you’re probably struggling with some sort of foundation issue. Mount Valley Foundation Services can help.
The hot, humid weather, plus being situated along Charleston Harbor, can spell disaster for homeowners with water management problems. Identify and fix the problem quickly.
Savannah’s location is near both the Savannah River and the Atlantic Ocean, plus its problematic clay soil means structural issues are common. Mount Valley Foundation Services can help!