As a handy homeowner who has tackled big repairs before (and enjoys the challenge), it is very tempting to consider do-it-yourself foundation repair. You figure you can save money if you do it yourself, so you search what your problems are and then find the solutions. The problem is, the information available on the web might lead you to a “bandaid-repair” on what is truly a much bigger problem.
All over the internet and TV you find websites and programs with DIY steps for fixing foundation problems. Most people do not have the tools that it would take to do what really needs to be done for foundation repairs. The problem is programs on TV and website make it seem simple, and bait their programs with the enticing “you could save a lot of money” tagline.
The goal of this article is to shed some light on what causes foundation problems, the only true way to mitigate foundation settlement long term, and some concerns for homeowners who are considering DIY foundation repair to consider.
What Causes Foundation Problems?
Without going into too much detail, foundation problems are mostly caused by soil settlement, expansion and contraction of soils, improper drainage. While you can likely address the drainage around your home yourself, there is very little you would be able to do about the natural processes that are occuring in the soil under your home.
Some common foundation problems include:
- Foundation cracks
- Bowing basement walls
- Sloping floors
- Water in basement or crawl space
- Cracked walls and ceilings
- and more.
Many DIY foundation repair method such as adding more concrete, inserting wood shims, and so on, only treat the symptom of foundation settlement, not the cause. These methods do not do anything to lessen the settlement of you home into the soil, if anything, they add weight to your foundation, causing it to settle faster. So what is the only way to stop foundation settlement?
How To Stop Foundation Settlement
The only way to truly stop settlement of your foundation is to install a deep foundation system such as steel push piers or helical piers. These systems are designed to transfer the weight of your home passed the unstable soil layers and into competent bearing strata. This process is often referred to as foundation underpinning and is not a DIY process as it requires specialized equipment and experience.
How To Stop Bowing Basement Walls
Bowing basement walls are another foundation problem what adventurous homeowners may be tempted to tackle DIY. Some common DIY methods might be injecting the cracks with epoxy or applying carbon fiber patches. However, as you can likely imagine, the products available to the general public are usually far from “professional”. For example, carbon fiber wall straps are indeed an effective repair for bowing foundation basement walls, however many DIY products do not extend the entire length of the wall. A professional carbon fiber wall strap installation covers the entire vertical length of your wall and is permanently fixed to your foundation.
Why You Shouldn’t Try to DIY
Your foundation is the most important part of your home. Most people focus the cosmetic parts of their home; paint, flooring, and so on. These very well might be good DIY projects for homeowners. When it comes to your foundation however, you really don’t want to go the DIY route. Here is why:
1. It is hard to tell when foundation problems are leading to foundation failure.
Homeowners can easily recognize the signs of foundation issues including bowing and leaning walls, floor cracks, wall cracks, foundation cracks, and more. But do you know when foundation failure is imminent? It takes a structural engineer to really know how serious the problems you have are.
2. You foundation can make or break the value of your home.
Your foundation is the most important part of your house. When an inspection is done on your home if you are trying to sell it, the inspector will absolutely know the difference between DIY foundation repairs and professional foundation repairs. This will affect the value of your home.
3. You likely don’t have the right tools to perform foundation repairs.
Many websites claim to offer DIY foundation repair “kits”, but applying a carbon fiber patch to a wall crack may not be all that you need. Some foundation repair jobs require piering products or underpinning products to lift or level a foundation. Some foundation repairs require epoxy injections performed under high pressure. These require special equipment to complete. Some jobs require excavation to get to the root area of the problem. Again, you really won’t know until you contact a foundation repair expert.
4. You could cause yourself injury or cause additional damage to your home.
There are probably a thousand different ways that a foundation DIY project can go wrong. Professional foundation repair companies know what not to do because of years of experience (and honestly some very expensive mistakes). As the structural element that keeps your home from collapsing, a foundation is not something that should be experimented on in a DIY project. For example, a basement wall collapse can cause serious injury or death.
5. You might cost yourself more money in the end.
Something to keep in mind as well, is that a contractor may have to charge additional fees to work around or undo any attempted DIY repairs. If you aren’t sure what you are doing you could cost yourself a lot more money in the end.
When it comes to foundation repair, contact an expert. Here at Epp Foundation Repair, we specialize in foundation repair. We’ll come to your home and give you a free, no obligation estimate. Our crew will walk you through and explain your foundation problems and how we will go about fixing them.