How To Guide: Repairing Cracks in Concrete Foundation Walls

April 23, 2021

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Every homeowner should know how to repair cracks in concrete foundation walls, as the sooner you perform foundation crack repair, the less risk of those cracks spreading and getting more extensive and damaging! Timely repairs, done at the first sign of foundation damage, are also typically cheaper than having to repair deep cracks and secondary damage resulting from those cracks, such as buckled interior surfaces and mold growth.

Epoxy injections can fix cracked concrete foundation walls, if applied properly. For severe cracks and bowing walls, a professional will insert steel piers or slab jacking under the foundation, or wall straps that put basement walls back into position. Waterproofing and crawlspace encapsulation help protect those repairs over time.

To ensure you’re keeping your home in good repair, note some tips for how to repair cracks in concrete foundation walls, and when it’s time to call in the pros. It’s also helpful to note some signs of concrete damage that you might overlook, so you don’t put off needed repairs! As always, discuss any concerns or questions you have with a foundation repair contractor near you, and schedule regular foundation inspections so a contractor can spot needed fixes at the first sign of damage.

How to Repair Cracks in Concrete Foundation Walls With Epoxy

Cracked-Concrete

To repair cracks in concrete foundation walls with epoxy, ensure you choose a brand made for concrete in particular; a repair kit should include injection ports and plugs, to inject epoxy deep into the crack. You’ll also want to clean and then dry the crack completely, ensuring there is no residue, dust, or other debris and that the surface is dried thoroughly.

  • First, tap 3-inch finishing nails into the crack, spaced 12 inches apart. These nails will be used to hold what are called injection ports, or small plastic pieces that inject the epoxy deep into the concrete.
  • Mix the epoxy seal according to package directions. It’s recommended that you mix a small amount on a piece of wood or nonstick plastic and continue to mix more epoxy as needed, so it doesn’t dry out as you work.
  • Place a small bit of epoxy over the bottom hole of an injection port and then slide the port over a nail. The epoxy will hold that port in place while you do the same for the rest of the nails.
  • Spread epoxy over the crack and then use the injection ports to inject it deep into the crack. Plug up each port, following the package directions, before moving onto the next.
  • Allow the epoxy to dry for at least five days and then use a small hand saw to cut away the epoxy ports sticking out from the wall.

Remember that this epoxy is good only for minimal cracks and minor damage. For more serious cracks, and especially if your home has begun sinking or settling, it’s time to call a foundation repair contractor near you!

How the Pros Repair Concrete Foundation Walls

Pros-Repair-Concrete

Epoxy injections are useful for smaller cracks and will help block outside moisture and pests, and can also help keep a foundation strong for several years. However, severe damage requires more stringent repair methods! Note a few methods used by the pros for repairing concrete foundation walls, pier and beam foundation, slabs, and other foundation types.

Steel and helical piers

Steel or metal piers are an excellent choice for sinking and settling foundations. These piers are inserted deep into the ground, around the home’s perimeter. The pier includes a small footing or projection that is slid under the home’s framing or foundation; this footing holds up the house and provides added support for its weight.

Helical piers are similar to metal piers but are screwed into the ground, while steel or metal piers are inserted with a method similar to pounding nails into a surface. Helical piers are not as strong as metal piers and are often used for smaller, lighter homes or areas with less weight, such as porches or sunrooms.

Steel and helical piers involve minimal disruption to a property’s soil and are used even if the home has begun to settle. Once the piers are in place, a hydraulic jack lifts the home into a level and even position, and the pier is then attached to the home’s foundation with a bracket, so it should then stay in position.

Piers are also more affordable than other options and should last for decades, if not indefinitely. Most foundation repair contractors guarantee those piers for the life of homeownership, so they’re an excellent investment for any property.

Slab jacking or house leveling

House leveling or slab jacking is often used for slab concrete foundations, meaning those built on a level concrete slab and not over a basement or on piers and beams over a crawlspace. Over time, that concrete slab can weaken and crack, allowing a house to settle and sink. Slab jacking involves “jacking” that slab back up and giving it added support.

Slab jacking starts with a pattern of holes drilled around areas of the foundation needing repairs. A lifting solution, similar in texture to grout, is then injected into those holes using specialized heavy-duty equipment. That solution fills those voids under the foundation and, as it hardens, expands to lift the home back to a level and even position.

House leveling or slab jacking might sound extreme but it’s typically a low-cost foundation repair solution and can be performed virtually any time of year. It also helps support a foundation, keeping it level and even for years if not decades.

Carbon fiber straps, for basement walls

Damaged basement walls might start to bow or curve inward, due to absorbing moisture and then expanding. As they do, this puts pressure on that concrete, leading to cracks and other damage. Carbon fiber straps protect those walls from breakage and can put them back into place so they don’t bow any further.

Carbon fiber straps are not simply bolted to a wall but are mounted to plates and then attached with epoxy that keeps them rigid and stiff. These straps mean minimal disruption and are very affordable, and provide added support for a water-damaged basement foundation.

Pier and beam repairs

Pier and beam foundations sit on literal piers or beams, over a concrete slab. These beams allow for a crawlspace under the home. Pier and beam foundations last for years but might eventually suffer rot and other such damage, or come out of position due to vibration, excess weight, and other such factors.

Foundation repair contractors might need to replace those piers and beams once they’re damaged beyond repair. Shims, or triangular wedges, can also be slid underneath the home, between its framing and the pier or beam. This shim provides support and alleviates the home’s weight.

Crawlspace encapsulation is an excellent choice for protecting pier and beam foundations and for avoiding severe damage. Encapsulation provides coverage for the beams and the slab under them, repelling water and keeping the space dry and damage-free.

How Do You Know If a Foundation Crack Is Serious?

drywall crack before foundation repair in New Braunfels

Always call a foundation repair contractor for any suspected foundation damage, so they can perform a full-scale inspection of your home. You might also note some often-overlooked signs of foundation damage or a weak foundation needing professional repairs.

Interior signs of a weak foundation

When a home’s foundation weakens, the house shifts its weight to one side or another. As it does, it pulls on interior surfaces and materials, leading to cracks and uneven framing. You might then notice some interior signs of a weak foundation, including:

  • Cracked walls and ceilings
  • Buckled flooring
  • Carpet becoming threadbare or outright torn in certain areas
  • Floor tiles pulling away from the subflooring
  • Baseboards and crown molding pulling away from the walls
  • Walls pulling away from each other, allowing gaps to form in corners
  • Doors that hang open and won’t close
  • Doors and windows that stick
  • Gaps around doorframes and window frames
  • Persistent water leaks and plumbing clogs

Homeowners might also notice surfaces that seem uneven; for example, artwork that refuses to hang straight or shelves that once looked level but which now are dipping to one side!

Check outside walls

A homeowner can check outside walls for signs of weak concrete or obvious damage. If you notice chips or cracks along foundation walls, bulging walls, or obvious leaning, it’s time to call a foundation repair contractor near you! He or she should check for damaged concrete and apply straps or heavy-duty epoxy fillers as needed, to keep that foundation concrete strong.

You can also try to poke around damaged areas with a screwdriver. You shouldn’t be able to chip or flake off foundation concrete, so if the material does chip or crack as you poke at it, it’s time for professional repairs!

As a home settles and shifts, it will also pull on its own roof. If there are cracked or buckled areas along the roof’s surface, this can indicate a weak, leaning foundation. Chimney stacks might also crack and even crumble or you might notice long cracks along roof tiles.

Check piers and beams for signs of damage

Check the home’s piers and beams for signs of concrete damage regularly. Basements will have support beams, often made of concrete which might be surrounded by wood, for a finished look. Check these beams for soft and cracked wood, chipped concrete bases, cracked concrete fronts, or other signs of weakening and damage.

If your home has a crawlspace, it’s vital to check the piers and beams inside this space regularly as well. As with basement beams, note any cracks, chips, or other such damage and visible signs of wood rot or mold growth under the home. You might also notice an overly damp, musty feeling which can indicate the risk of foundation damage.

Does Cracked Concrete Mean Foundation Problems?

estimate for foundation crack repair in New Braunfels

Hairline cracks are not unusual and don’t necessarily indicate foundation problems or the need for structural repairs. As concrete settles or expands and shrinks over time, it will suffer a few surface cracks while still maintaining its structural integrity.

To determine if cracks in your home’s foundation concrete indicate needed repairs, test its surface as mentioned above. If you can chip the concrete or see any surrounding wood rot or mold growth inside or under the home, it’s time to call a foundation repair contractor for a full-scale foundation inspection.

Homeowners would also do well to schedule regular inspections even before noticing signs of foundation damage. A foundation repair contractor can spot a weak foundation, bowed basement walls, and other issues quickly, and schedule timely repairs or fixes that keep the foundation strong and stable.

How Can You Tell If a Crack Is Structural?

Looking-If-The-Crack-Is-Structural

Wall and ceiling cracks are not always a serious issue, as drywall pieces can pull away from each other over time, or suffer slight water damage that then allows cracks to form. Plaster can also settle and shift, creating cracks that are nothing more than cosmetic issues and which don’t necessarily indicate structural issues.

Hairline cracks running either vertically or horizontally along doorways are also typically the result of added framing in that area expanding and then shrinking over time, which causes those pieces to pull away from one another, taking the drywall with it. These cracks only need patching and repainting and aren’t typically serious.

However, large cracks and especially those running diagonally are often indicators of structural damage and a weak, sinking foundation. These can also indicate termite damage to the home’s framing, which can be just as extensive and serious as a damaged foundation!

If you’re not sure of the extent of damage to your home or if a crack indicates the need for structural repairs, schedule a foundation inspection. Even if the foundation repair contractor doesn’t find damage to the foundation, you’ll at least know that your home is in good condition and can then cover over those interior cracks as needed!

New Braunfels Foundation Repair Experts hope this information helps you better understand how to repair cracks in concrete foundation walls, and when to call on a pro. If you need a foundation repair in New Braunfels, give us a call! We offer FREE consultations and guarantee all repairs to last. To find out more or to get started with the foundation repair work you need to have done, contact us today.

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