When to Call an Expert
Anytime you’re dealing with a structure problem, call an expert.
You likely have structure problems if any of these symptoms appear:
- Bowed basement walls
- Cracked foundation
- Sloping Floors
- Separated walls
- Doors that don’t open or close properly
- Foundation upheaval or sinking
All of these can indicate a problem with the soil surrounding the home. Even with your biggest shovel, you can’t solve these problems — you need a foundation repair expert.
Causes of Structural Problems
Water is the greatest enemy to an unstable foundation, and many foundation problems come from drought and flood cycles.
Soil exposed to heavy drought conditions shrinks, and then the same soil, exposed to flooding, expands.
As a result, the foundation within that soil will sink and then heave. It will crack, and in severe cases, cause structural damage.
As a rule, you should have a decent buildup of soil around your home. Contractors recommend six inches of vertical rise for every 10 horizontal feet. Anything less than this ratio could cause drainage and foundation problems.
Watch and Learn: How to Keep Water from Damaging the Foundation
Foundation Repair Options
Once you’ve discovered a compromised foundation, you have a number of possible solutions other than selling your property.
Here are some examples:
1. Wood or Steel Braces
Some contractors install galvanized steel braces vertically to the wall, anchoring them to the wood joists above and the concrete below. These braces, which cost around $500 to $700 each, keep a bowed wall from bowing even more.
While the braces stop the bowing, they’re not aesthetically pleasing.
2. Carbon-Fiber Mesh
If you’d like to maintain a smooth surface on your basement wall, some contractors now offer a carbon-fiber mesh solution. You spread epoxy in vertical stripes on the wall and then press carbon-fiber mesh to secure the wall.
This option costs less than half as much as the wood or steel braces and, in many cases, solves the problem of a compromised wall.
3. Wall Anchors
If your biggest problem is the soil surrounding the foundation, you may need a more permanent solution.
Basement repair companies offer wall anchors, which consist of large metal plates installed in your excavated yard every 6 to 8 feet, and attached to metal plates inside the foundation walls.
A steel rod connects the plates horizontally and the contractor gradually tightens and stabilizes the plates to the rod to stabilize and straighten the walls.
Excavations can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on the project. Wall anchors run approximately $400 to $600 each.
To Repair or Not to Repair: That is the Question
The cost of structural repair can easily overwhelm a homeowner. While do-it-yourselfers always ask, “Should I do it or not?” the cost of structural damage caused by a botched DIY job can far exceed the cost of a contractor.
Plus, by ‘hiring it done,’ you can rest assured knowing an expert with liability insurance will do the job right.