When your foundation or slab heaves, your entire home can end up destabilized. These types of heaves, most often caused by heavy rains, don’t just make your home less safe to live in. If left unattended, heaves can cause certain parts of your home to sink and your property in general to lose value.
The good news is that you can respond to foundation heave with help from the professionals in your area. Taking on this kind of damage means that you’ll be able to re-stabilize your home, restore any value you’ve lost, and prevent similar conditions from having the same impact on your foundation in the future.
The Forces Behind Foundation and Slab Heave
Foundation and slab heaves tend to be the result of environmental changes around your property. That said, you’ll still want to work with the professionals in your area to determine why your foundation has moved out of alignment and, in turn, what repairs you may need to invest in to prevent additional damage throughout your home.
Foundation and slab heave most often occurs on expansive clay soil. This soil can take in considerable amounts of water after it rains, forcing your foundation to endure unusually significant amounts of hydrostatic pressure.
What is hydrostatic pressure? In short, it is a force that works on your home when groundwater, rain runoff, and snowmelt come up against concrete and other porous materials. Moisture can cause the molecules that make up these materials to change temperature and size. Your foundation, however, will warm back up again as the weather outside changes, meaning that the impacted molecules will shrink and grow at a random but rapid rate.
Your foundation, when faced with that kind of stress, can crack from the pressure. In cracking, however, your foundation or slab can also heave, destabilizing your home and making it less safe to live in.
If you think contending with heavy rain is bad, just wait until it starts to freeze. As the weather gets colder, wet soil around your home can increase in volume by up to nine percent. Not only can the freezing temperatures cause the materials your foundation is made of to change in dramatic ways, but the increased size of the soil beneath your home can throw your foundation out of alignment almost immediately.
Frozen soil can lift your foundation while also causing it to settle. Some parts of your home will find themselves lifted higher than others. In turn, you may find yourself contending with cracks, uneven floors, and sinking walls all at once, even if you’re not seeing any signs of flooding or other water damage inside of your home.
Problems With Your Plumbing or HVAC System
Not all foundation problems originate outside of your home. If you’re not careful, your pipes can cause as many moisture-related problems for your space as rain and snow.
The pipes in your basement or crawl space are especially sensitive to water damage. When exposed to high levels of humidity, they can begin to leak. These leaks can add more moisture to the air in your home, exasperating leaks and exposing your foundation to additional hydrostatic pressure.
Your HVAC system can have a similarly negative impact on your home’s structural integrity if it suffers from damage. With that in mind, you’ll want to keep a close eye on both your pipes and your air conditioner or heater over the course of the year. Don’t slack on your annual maintenance, or else you may find yourself contending with damage that’s far more serious than just a dripping pipe.
Considerable amounts of hydrostatic pressure tend to cause the most damage around your property. However, that kind of pressure isn’t the only force that can work against your home. If the construction team who built your home made any mistakes while laying your foundation, then that slab may be more vulnerable to the impacts of hydrostatic pressure than your neighbor’s.
Green wood, for example, that’s been used for your structural supports will snap or otherwise give faster than wood that’s been allowed to age and dry. Similarly, certain construction materials will take in more water and experience more change when exposed to hydrostatic pressure than others. While a home’s construction team can’t anticipate the amount of rain or snow runoff that your home will have to contend with, they can still work to give your foundation a fighting change during its initial construction phase.
Discovering Foundation Damage in Your Home
Keeping track of your foundation’s health is never an easy task. If you don’t have your foundation at least half-excavated at all times—which is inadvisable—then it can be difficult to tell when something’s gone wrong.
You can, however, take a gander around your basement or crawl space if you want to get a better idea of how your foundation is fairing. Certain symptoms of foundation damage will make themselves known throughout your home when something starts to go wrong, allowing you to react in an appropriate amount of time.
Some of the most common signs of foundation and slab heave that you’ll want to keep an eye out for can include:
- Stair-step cracks outside of your home
- Horizontal or diagonal cracks inside of your basement or crawl space
- Visibly wet soil around the perimeter of your home
- Gaps between your ceiling and the walls
- Sagging floors or floor joists
- Uneven basement or crawl space floors
Professional contractors can help you identify these symptoms during an annual home inspection. They can also help you distinguish between damage in your home that is the result of foundation heave and damage that may be related to basement or crawl space failures. You’ll want to work to distinguish the source of the damage you’re contending with before investing in any repairs. Cracks, for example, can prove less expensive to repair than heaves and often require different methods to repair.
Reacting To Foundation and Slab Heave
If you notice that your home seems to be taking on unusual amounts of moisture, or if it seems like your floors have abruptly become less even, then you’ll want to reach out to the professionals serving your area as soon as possible. After you schedule a home inspection, you can walk through your home with a professional to determine what’s gone wrong.
When it comes to repairing a home that’s suffered from foundation heave, you have a few options. In some cases, it may be in your best interest to demolish and re-pour certain parts of your foundation to get them back into place. Alternatively, you could use foundation piers to elevate the parts of your home that haven’t risen with the heave. When in doubt, you can look over the free quote provided to you by area professionals to determine which of the available home repair solutions may best suit your budget and needs.
Protecting Your Home from Future Damage
As mentioned, your foundation is most likely to suffer from heave when it encounters static water or hydrostatic pressure. If you’re looking to get ahead of this kind of damage, you’ll want to try and determine what waterproofing measures may best suit your home.
Waterproofing measures that can help you protect your foundation come in many different forms. Some of the most effective can include:
- Interior drainage system
- Sump pump
- Vapor barrier
- Gutters and downspouts
While protecting your foundation, you’ll want to make sure that unwanted moisture stays as far away from your home as possible. Dehumidifiers can also do some heavy lifting when it comes to keeping your home safe. If you’re concerned about the effect moisture may have on your pipes, or if you think the bulk of the hydrostatic pressure you may be contending with can be traced to the inside of your home, a dehumidifier can help you pull that unwanted moisture from the air.
Ambitious homeowners may want to try their hands at some DIY foundation heave repair before reaching out to the professionals for help. While that kind of gumption is admirable, homeowners risk doing significant damage not only to their foundations but also to their budgets if they try to take on foundation heave without professional guidance.
- Preparing Your Budget
Repairing your foundation without professional guidance is an expensive endeavor. Not only are you going to lose time and money with any excavation work around your foundation without help, but you’re also going to need to purchase the materials and single-use tools that you need on your own time.
Comparatively, professionals already have the tools they need to repair your foundation on hand. When it comes to securing materials, these parties often have connections with industry peers that allow them to secure deals on the products you would have to purchase on the market. If you’re really concerned about how much foundation heave repair may cost you, you’ll want to request a free quote on the services you may need. This way, you can balance your budget ahead of time and work with a team to determine where you might be able to get away with saving money.
- Making On-The-Job Mistakes
Experience counts for a lot when it comes to foundation heave repair. If you haven’t worked on a cracked or otherwise damaged foundation before, then you may not know where to begin when it comes to foundation heave. Even if you manage to get your hands on the tools and materials you need to bring your home back up to snuff, you risk worsening the damage already done to your foundation by proceeding.
Innovative Basement Authority professionals, alternatively, have worked on thousands of homes before your own. These contractors can take from a long history of work experience to bring your home back into peak condition.
It is possible for your foundation to heave more than once if you don’t invest in the appropriate repairs. You’ll want to connect with the professionals in your area to ensure that the work you’re doing is both repair-oriented and preventative.
- The Causes Behind Foundation Heave
Hydrostatic pressure and the expanding of the soil beneath your foundation tend to cause the bulk of homes’ foundation heave. With that in mind, you’ll want to invest in repairs that tend to both of these problems.
The best way to handle a foundation that is affected by underlying soils and has settled is with foundation piers. These durable piers are installed into the ground past unstable soils and down to more reliable load-bearing strata to better support the foundation. Additionally, if your concrete slab is cracking and uneven, polyurethane foam injections can be used to lift the slabs and stabilize them, as well as help stabilize the soil underneath. Depending on the forces at work within your foundation, repair professionals may suggest other measures to shore up your home.
- Waterproofing Your Foundation
It is also in your best interest to waterproof your foundation. Waterproofing measures of various forms will actively drive water away from your newly installed foundation materials. As such, your foundation will be less likely to heave in the days to come.
Choosing the best waterproofing measures for your foundation can be a challenge, though. Many are best used indoors, such as interior drainage systems, sump pumps, vapor barriers, and dehumidifiers. Others, however, like gutters, downspouts, and yard grading will be used outside. You’ll want to talk with the team in your area to determine which of these available solutions or any others on the market may best suit your needs.
Preparing Your Budget for Foundation Heave or Slab Repairs
Many homeowners find themselves reluctant to take on foundation repairs, even when their foundations show signs of heaving. The cost of these repairs, after all, isn’t always easy to anticipate.
In general, there are some costs you can anticipate ahead of time when considering foundation repair. Depending on the repair method used, some excavation may be required. From there, costs are going to vary. If a leaking pipe caused your foundation to heave, you’ll need to consider both the cost of your foundation repair and the cost of replacing your pipes. Alternatively, if you can trace your foundation heave to unusually high amounts of groundwater in your lawn, then you may be able to mitigate some of your interior repair costs.
That said, do note that the size of your home, material costs, and man hours will all change the amount you should expect to spend repairing your foundation. To get a better idea of what your unique situation may run you, you can reach out to area professionals for a free quote on potential services.
Working With Professionals to Repair and Protect Your Foundation
Are you having trouble with your foundation? You don’t have to go about addressing it alone. Innovative Basement Authority has teams in Minnesota, North Dakota, and eastern Montana that can help you bring your home back up to snuff. You can reach out to schedule a home inspection no matter what the season is. After walking through your home, a professional will fit you with a personalized, free quote on the services you may need to bring your foundation back into alignment.
Whether you want to get ahead of potential foundation damage or restore some of your home’s lost value, the team with Innovative Basement Authority can help. Reach out today.