How Are Foundation Cracks Repaired? (Ways Foundation Repair is Done)

Foundation repair isn’t always easy to identify, especially when some signs and symptoms are difficult to find. One of those is the dreaded foundation crack. You might be aware your foundation is cracked, or you have no idea and need to figure out a problem you may be facing. And when a foundation cracks, how are they repaired?

Suspecting your home is sustaining some sort of damage is uncomfortable as it is. Not knowing to what extent is unsettling. Your home is your number one investment. You want to make sure the part holding the home isn’t compromised.

Dalinghaus Construction has inspected more than 10,000 homes in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada, having repaired 2,000 homes and fixing the cracks on your foundation when they appear. Foundation cracks don’t make themselves apparent, which is why we have foundation inspectors identify the problems in your home and a production team that fills in the cracks. When it comes to foundation repair and fixing foundation cracks, Dalinghaus Construction can give you the information to help you feel comfortable.

How foundation cracks happen

Foundation cracks appear through movement in the soil underneath the foundation. New stressors are being applied to your foundation, creating cracks in places you don’t see.

This will happen in one of two ways:

  • Foundation Settlement – the soil under your foundation becomes dry and contracts, causing part of your home to sink into the ground.
    • This is what Dalinghaus Construction most often deals with.
  • Foundation heave – the soil under your home absorbs water and expands, causing part of your home to be thrust upward.

Sometimes lateral movement (horizontal movement) can cause foundation cracks, but we don’t see that often. Lateral movement without foundation settlement is rare to see.

Footing cracks also happen regardless of soil quality… sometimes

There may be a chance you stumbled upon this article looking for a different type of crack you’ve found – I’m still talking about construction.

A crack in your foundation isn’t necessarily easy to see, especially when it’s covered by flooring. However, you may have noticed a horizontal crack in your home’s footing. This is a result of rebar expansion.

You’ll sometimes have a foundation crack resulting from the stem wall, or footing, blowing out due to rebar expansion. You’ll sometimes have gaps in your concrete footing that moisture will sneak in. When the water touches the metal, it oxidizes (you may know this as rusting) and causes expansion, blowing out the concrete footing.

Rebar blowouts are relatively common, though it doesn’t mean the foundation is necessarily moving or settling in any way. This does need to be repaired and addressed, though it’s a different style of foundation repair.

Slab Cracks

Slab cracks will be underneath your flooring – so carpet, hardwood, or tile. You won’t directly notice a slab crack or necessarily feel it. You would have to pull a part of the flooring to take a look.

As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” However, if you can feel your floors sloping as though you can do a vertical half-pipe with Tony Hawk, you likely have a crack in your slab.

With sloping floors, you’ll notice other signs and symptoms of your home needing foundation repair before you see a slab crack. These are signs such as:

  • Drywall cracks
  • Stucco cracks
  • Concrete slab cracks
  • Ceiling cracks
  • Tile cracks
  • Chimney cracks
  • Leaning chimney
  • Sloping floors
  • Doors and windows are hard to open and close
  • Water leaks

To further understand the signs and symptoms of a home needing foundation repair, take a crack at reading our Ultimate Guide to Signs and Symptoms of a Home in Need of Foundation Repair.

Slab cracks are indicative of some type of movement happening in your home.

Foundation cracks on their own don’t affect the rest of your home. The cause is what affects the home. Stresses are being applied to your home and causing other damage.

You don’t need to be concerned about all foundation cracks

Some of the cracking is innocent and not harming anyone. You’ll know the ones that pose a real threat to your foundation.

Hairline Cracks

These aren’t the type of cracks you need to worry about. These cracks look like strands of hair on the surface of your concrete. They’re generally not deep enough to where you could expect damage from moisture.

These cracks are more common on slabs than on concrete footings, and they’re not easy to see. A hairline crack on its own isn’t a big deal. However, if you’re seeing more than one something may be happening. Be sure to monitor them.

Differential Cracks

These are cracks that don’t line up due to the footing starting to separate and parts of the footing being at different elevations. The area of the home most affected might also move more laterally and cause a bigger gap.

If your cracks are expanding, be sure you’re monitoring them closely. 

You can tape the crack and mark where the tape is. If it separates on one side or rips, your crack is likely expanding. There are also concrete crack gauges you can order online. You secure these into the concrete and notice if you see it slide. You’ll notice any changes in the cracks as the gauge shifts.

Foundation cracks don’t always make themselves apparent

Again, cracks on your slab will be under your flooring. If you start looking at the concrete footing from the outside of your home, 3/4ths of it is below grade (below the surface level of the soil). So a large portion of those outside cracks will be hidden.

In short, the evidence will be obvious if you can see the concrete.

It’s like when you broke something as a kid. You probably hid the evidence until mom somehow magically figured it out moments later and could see what you destroyed.

How foundation cracks are repaired

It depends on what is going on with your foundation. When it comes to foundation settling, Dalinghaus Construction will lift the area of your home that is directly affected. This will be via:

Push pier and/or Helical pier underpinning

Push piers will be hydraulically pushed into the ground down to bedrock so your home isn’t affected by the soil in the “active zone,” or the area where soil tends to shift.

Helical piers use helices to essentially screw the pier into competent soil. The torque exerted keeps these piers in the ground and prevents movement.

Many of our projects have a combination of both types of piers.

We then either raise or stabilize your foundation. The choice is up to you. If you’re okay with the differentiation of the crack, we can stabilize the home. If the crack is bothersome, we can lift the home to maximum practical recovery. You’ll forget the crack was even there! When the foundation repair is done, moisture might not even seep into the cracks.

However, there are times moisture can still get in. If water can get through, we patch the crack using carbon fiber stables and gravity-fed epoxy.

Slits will be cut perpendicular to the crack so the fiber staple can fit in. The crack will then be filled with epoxy.

Repair for rebar blowout

This is to repair those pesky horizontal cracks you will likely see in a footing. The production team will have to go in and excavate the area affected. They chip away at the concrete to expose all the rebar in the footing, pull it out, replace the rebar, and patch the area back in.

The patching will happen with a carbon fiber wrap that is epoxied to the whole footing so rebar blowouts don’t happen again.

Filling in cracks step-by-step

  1. Preparation
  • Grinding down surfaces with a flat disc to expose some aggregate.
  • Grind the middle surface of the actual crack to widen a teeny-tiny bit
    • A foam backer may need to be placed at the very bottom of the crack to dam up the epoxy
  1. Cut slots for carbon fiber staples (if used in the repair.
  • Staples will be put in place.
  1. Epoxy is applied
  • An epoxy gun is used with a two-part component mixed at the tip
    • Used by hand pump.
  1. Accommodate for seepage
  • We come back and put a little more of the epoxy in the crack until it’s a nice flat surface.
  1. Grind the area with a flat disk to flatten (if needed)
  2. Let it cure for about a day.

You can fill in these cracks on your own, but the real question is figuring out the root cause of the issue. You’ll want to have someone come out to look at your foundation and assess the problem.

How to prevent future foundation repair cracks

Water Mitigation

Make sure you don’t have pooling or sitting water that can directly affect your foundation. Make sure you don’t have water irrigation ride against the foundation. You want to be sure as much water is going away from your home as possible.

Tree or plant removal

Plants can be very deceptive, especially trees. They look entirely innocent until you realize their roots are lifting your home and causing damage.

This goes hand in hand with the water mitigation portion. If the soil under the foundation is as dry as a desert, the roots won’t travel there. However, trees – like all living beings – need moisture and nutrients to survive. Any sign of water and nutrients under the home influences the roots to charge the home at an expedient sloth’s pace.

Slow as a sloth, but as powerful as a rhino. Not sure if this is true, but the point is roots are powerful.

You can call (877) 360-9227, or click the button below to book your free evaluation today!

Now that you know more about foundation cracks, have a professional look at your foundation.

You better understand why foundation cracks happen, what you need to look for, how they’re fixed, and how to prevent these cracks in the future. The most difficult part is figuring out why these cracks appear in your home.

Dalinghaus Construction can have a foundation inspector at your doorstep for a 60-90 minute FREE evaluation to see what’s happening with your home.

Don’t only have Dalinghaus Construction come out. Get as many bids as possible. That way you have multiple opinions on what’s happening with your home, and you can compare project proposals. That way you can find the best foundation repair company for you.

Read our article Should You Get Multiple Foundation Repair Bids? How You Benefit to better understand why you should receive multiple bids.

You can call (877) 360-9227, or click the button below to book your free evaluation today!

WRITTEN BY

Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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One Response

  1. I noticed some cracks in my basement, and I’m not sure what to do about it. It makes sense that I would want to get a professional to take a look at it for me. They would be able to help ensure that I get the right concrete treatments to ensure that my foundation is sturdy.

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