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Are Foundation Cracks Normal?

building a foundation for a new home

Building a Strong Foundation

In honor of our upcoming Independence Day, let’s take a look at one of the strongest foundations in history. The cornerstone of the United States Whitehouse was laid in 1792. From there a foundation was built for a mansion that Presidents would reside and watch over the country and the world. Sounds important and impressive, doesn’t it? Just as important is your home’s foundation. Foundation inspections for cracks and damage to the cornerstone of your home are just as important and crucial to your family’s life. 

Are foundation cracks serious?

It depends on the type of crack and where the crack is located. There are ten different types of cracks that a foundation inspection can find. Once there are found and identified, it can be determined if they are a danger to your home. If you’ve been asking, “what does foundation damage look like”, the following are some descriptions and information on what causes them. 

  • Horizontal Cracks

These types of tracks in the basement foundation can be a serious matter. Hydrostatic water pressure and unbalanced soil are the typical cause, resulting in the foundation caving inwards and water leaking into the basement. A foundation inspection can determine how to fix this problem.

  • Stair Step Cracks

Typical of block foundations, stair-step cracks occur at mortar joints. These can create a dangerous threat to the integrity of the basement foundation and are caused by these two common issues, which a foundation inspection will determine: whether it’s foundation settlement or sinking, or moisture-related problems outside the foundation.

  • Hairline Cracks

Commonplace for new construction are hairline cracks and will appear within the first 12 months. They are caused by the settling of the new foundation as it dries, and for the most part, are a cosmetic issue, not any concern for the stability of the house or foundation. A foundation inspection may be done for peace of mind and the repair can be done for around $200 by the homeowner or a professional for a cost up to $600.

  • Vertical Cracks

Vertical cracks aren’t as serious as horizontal cracks in the foundation. These are common types of foundation cracks caused by the foundation settling and the natural process of cement curing. There are kits available for DIY repair using an epoxy or polyurethane crack injection for under $100. Or a professional repair after a foundation inspection confirms the problem is around $500.

  • Diagonal Cracks

Diagonal foundation cracks are like vertical cracks and typically aren’t any threat to a foundation’s structural integrity. A foundation inspection will find they run 30 degrees vertically at the maximum and is part of the concrete’s natural curing process. An epoxy crack injection will get rid of the view for under $100 or a professional can cover them for around $500. 

  • Shrinkage Crack

Shrinkage foundation cracks are caused by the concrete foundations drying out and losing moisture, typical of a new home build within the first 12 months. These vertical cracks do not pose any structural threat to the foundation but can be a concern where Radon Gas is found in high levels getting into the basement.

  • Foundation Slab Cracks

These cracks can be an indication of bigger problems, i.e., plumbing problems. There are three possible causes that a foundation inspection will determine, which are: 

  • Concrete Curing

A natural process of drying and settling a concrete slab that is not of any structural threat. 

  • Slab Settlement

If this occurs with a new foundation slab, it can be a problem. Typically caused by poor workmanship where the ground was not supported or compacted. This needs immediate attention starting with a professional foundation inspection. 

  • Frost Heave

This is when the crawl space slab foundations are either at or above grade and during freezing, any water that gets underneath the slab can freeze, resulting in the buckled concrete foundation. 

  • Non-Structural Foundation Crack

This type of crack doesn’t threaten the structural integrity of your home, but it will allow water to leak into the basement. It should be addressed to save any issues with things stored in the basement getting ruined. Any time water is allowed inside a home, it will eventually start causing mildew and mold growth. It isn’t an urgent matter but should be addressed sooner than later. 

  • Wet Non-Structural Foundation Crack

As water evaporates from the foundation, it causes the foundation to shrink and this type of crack develops, typically within the first month that the foundation is poured. A professional foundation inspection can determine the severity of this type of cracking and can use a urethane sealant material.  This flexible substance is injected into the crack and will expand, filling the cavity.  

  • Structural Foundation Crack

This is a serious type of crack and will weaken the structural integrity of the home. A foundation inspection will determine the size of the crack and a recommendation the best repair method. Epoxy material is the common choice in conjunction with a carbon fiber reinforcement with countersunk staples or straps to keep the crack from expanding.

What happens when you have foundation issues?

There are 4 main things that can happen when issues and problems are found during a foundation inspection are ignored. And while there are only 4, the content of each of them can create a lot of problems for a homeowner: 

Foundation Settling and Sinking

This is usually the first thing that happens because foundations will move over time, sink into the ground, settling unevenly. Things you’ll notice are uneven floors, doors and windows aren’t opening or closing correctly, or not at all. 

Insect and Rodent Infestations

As a foundation settles and sings, falling into disrepair, insects and rodents will find their way inside your home through the cracks. Buying cans of bug spray isn’t going to fix this either because an infestation of insects or rodents will lead to nesting where they breed and multiply. Some insects and most rodents can cause more damage. 

Plumbing Problems

As the concrete foundation shifts and sinks, the plumbing inside and under the foundation becomes vulnerable. The pipes bend, break, and water damage starts deteriorating the foundation, and then you have extensive water damage that your homeowner’s insurance may or may not cover.

Mildew and Mold Issues

When a foundation inspection finds issues and problems that you choose to ignore or postpone repairs, the wooden members in the structure will begin to mildew and mold starts to form and spread. This creates a toxic environment and health risks for your family. The wood keeps rotting until it crumbles and disintegrates. 

Can foundation issues be fixed?

In most cases, yes, foundation repairs are possible. As you’ve just read, any foundation issues shouldn’t be considered a minor thing. If you can’t do the repairs yourself using the kits we’ve mentioned, you should hire a professional that knows how foundation repair is done after a thorough foundation inspection is recommended.  The longer you wait, the more extensive the foundation repairs can be and could require new foundation piers to be installed that will level the house and reinforce the existing foundation. This type of work is expensive, as much as $10,000 or more.        

Is it safe to live in a home with foundation issues?

Yes, you can live in a house safely with foundation problems when they are confined only to sagging or unlevel flooring and doors and windows that don’t close and open properly. If there is mildew and mold forming, the health risks become more dangerous, leaking to respiratory issues and more. This is why it should always be taken care of as quickly as possible.

What causes foundation damage?

Seasonal changes and the soil structure are the two most common causes of foundation problems. The soil can be too dry or too wet and create foundation problems. The soil in Texas causes foundations to shift constantly, which leads to damage.  Foundation experts advise that these are the most common of all foundation problems: 

  • Evaporation– Extreme heat and lack of rain will cause the soil to shrink, leading to structural cracks.
  • Improper Drainage– Too wet will cause foundation failure as the water pools around the foundation and erodes the soil and the foundation to settle and sink.
  • Plumbing Leaks– Water is the enemy to a foundation. It may be years before a leak is noticed in a foundation and by then, the damage is expensive and extensive. 
  • Low-Quality Soil– Low-quality soil expands and shrinks frequently, contributing to foundation failure.
  • Inferior Foundation Construction– A top cause of foundation failure is man-made materials and human error. The amount of rebar or steel used in a foundation affects the structural integrity and when coupled with poor quality concrete, or it isn’t allowed to cure, will make a foundation weak. 
  • Insufficient Soil Structure– A low-density soil under the foundation that isn’t compacted can lead to foundation problems. 
  • Transpiration– If you don’t keep your trees properly watered, the roots will pull the water they find from the ground, including the moisture under your foundation. 
close-up of a home's foundation

At The Bottom Of It All 

It is important for a homeowner to learn how to prevent foundation damage and follow the professional foundation contractor’s advice. When they recommend watering the foundation on a certain schedule, it should be followed exactly.  Will your water bill increase? Yes, but it will save you thousands of dollars to get the foundation repaired. 

Is foundation damage covered by insurance? That can depend on the cause of the foundation damage. If your homeowner’s insurance covers destruction from a tornado and your foundation is damaged, you’ll have help with reconstruction. Some plumbing cause issues may be covered unless the adjuster deems the problem is owner neglect.

Which trees can cause root damage?

exposed tree roots in dry ground

The Damage Roots Can Cause

Everyone wants a home surrounded by trees. They provide aesthetic beauty and in Texas, they provide something we need most of the year: shade! But trees also give us problems with tree roots, which brings us to the topic of why we need root barriers. Not all trees cause problems with their roots, but when they do, it can be costly and extensive. So what kind of damage can tree roots cause? 

Buildings and Foundations

Tree roots are not quick-growing, and they need nutrients and water. So, as they are growing, they exert immense pressure on anything that gets in their way of getting those nutrients and water.  This includes displacing soil, regardless of whether it is compacted clay soil or dry, loose soil. 

Some types of soil aren’t as efficient at supporting a structural load. So, roots can’t cause direct damage, but the increasing displacement of the soil compromises the integrity of the land, shifting the building and the foundation. A root barrier can keep the tree roots from reaching the buildings and their foundation.

Plumbing 

Most structures are built with a drainage system for the water and sewage, which attracts tree roots, especially where rainfall is minimal. Aspen, maple, and willow trees are some of the species that have invasive root systems. This means they will keep growing in search of water. 

Drainage-field pipes are perforated so that wastewater can flow through as it drains from the building’s plumbing. Tree roots can push through those holes, resulting in clogging them or breaking them.  With a properly installed root barrier, this can be prevented.

Landscape 

While trees may be a part of your landscape, their roots can overcome areas where you have plans for other plantings. As some trees age, depending on their species, the roots become visible through the soil surface. This process is sped up with erosion and wind. Trees that are planted or grow close together are forced to compete for their nutrients and water, especially when competing in a garden of flowers and shrubs. With strategically placed root barrier, you can enjoy trees and your garden. 

Which trees cause the most damage to foundations?

It can depend on the region; here in the Dallas, Texas area, your foundation problems are likely to come from chestnut oaks, live oaks, red oaks, and water oaks. If you’ve moved into a home these trees are already in place, invest in a root barrier system early on to prevent the possibility of foundation damage. If you’re planning your landscape for a new build, plan your tree planting accordingly following these hints: 

  • Oaks: Across the country, there is a small percentage of Oak trees, but that small percentage makes up for 10% of all the foundation damage. This includes the oak trees we listed above. The tree root system fast growing and shallow, requiring a lot of nutrients and water.  Root barriers are important for keeping foundations solid.
  • Poplars: A Poplar’s root system is fast-growing and shallow and can do a lot of damage to sewer lines.  There are different varieties of popular trees, including cottonwood, Carolina, Gilead, eastern, and Lombardy, each being an aggressive growing tree that can reach heights up to 100 feet. The tree root system is water-seeking roots, making it a problem around foundations. With a properly installed root barrier, the tree roots can be diverted.
  • Ash: Ornamental ash trees can cause foundation damage, most especially the white ash breed. They are tall growing trees, which means they have a wide-spreading root system. The green ash tree can have a 30-foot root system that is seeking nutrients and water, making them dangerous to plant close to foundations. A strong root barrier is recommended when choosing an Ash tree to be painted close to the home. 

Can tree roots cause cracks in walls?

Yes, when planted too close to a house, a tree’s root structure is seeking water and will exert pressure against a wall, causing foundation walls (the outer walls) to bulge. Foundation slabs crack and move and have been found to grow into and through concrete walls, cracking them and causing severe structural damage.

How close can a tree be to a house?

It is apparent that the placement of trees can solve the problem of foundation damage. Placing a large tree up to 20 feet from the house will still provide useful shade to the house. A small tree can be planted closer than 15 feet.

How do you know if tree roots are damaging your foundation?

The following five things are indications that your home has foundation problems from tree roots: 

  1. The foundation floor has cracks.
  2. Vertical cracks in the foundation walls.
  3. Windows cracked or shattered that haven’t had other trauma.
  4. The door and window frames are uneven.
  5. The floor surface is buckling.

Is tree root damage to the foundation covered by insurance?

No, because trees are in existence and following their natural course of growing and spreading out. Homeowner’s insurance is typically for unplanned events like high winds and storms. 

Who is responsible for tree root damage?

In the state of Texas, when a tree falls from a natural cause like high winds, lightning, storms, or flooding, it is the property owner who is responsible, including if the tree falls onto the property. 

large tree burying its roots into a wooden deck

In Closing 

When you have trees with an expansive tree root system, it is important to have a root barrier installed to prevent possible foundation damage. What is a good root barrier? Experts know how to fix tree root damage and installing a root barrier is recommended – typically, a root barrier between 36-inches and 48-inches deep.

Installing a Root Barrier

two trees with exposed roots

Stop Damaging Roots

Many home buyers prefer an older home in an older neighborhood. The houses aren’t cookie-cutter style, and the lawns are established, including older trees. And it is those older trees that can cause big foundation and plumbing problems. Does this mean you need to have all the trees cut down and removed? Absolutely not! It may be possible to have a root barrier installed to stop those issues. 

What does a root barrier look like?

A root barrier must be able to withstand the pressure of being deep in the soil and stand up to active tree roots. This requires they be made with impermeable and durable materials, usually buried at a depth of thirty inches or more. 

A root barrier should be extended above the soil surface to keep tree roots from growing over the barrier as well. The materials a root barrier is made of will accept and maintain a level of moisture, so the tree gets water but it is durable against tree roots growing through the barrier. 

Will removing surface roots kill a tree?

It could if it is a main root and cut too close to the tree. If the removal of large tree roots doesn’t kill it right away, it will create an unhealthy tree that will become unstable over time. This could create problems with the tree falling onto a structure or vehicle. The tree roots close to or fused to the tree trunk are critical to the health and structure of the tree. 

Which is better, a root barrier vs tree removal? 

The purpose of a root barrier is to limit the root system of a tree. It keeps the roots from spreading out and can be done for several reasons. Root barriers are installed to protect a home’s foundation and plumbing, to protect a driveway or sidewalk from root upheaval, and to eliminate the need for tree root pruning, which is an expensive and time-consuming job. 

Tree removal is not always an effective solution for the problems that tree roots can cause. Even once the tree is removed, if the tree roots are left, they keep growing and seeking water, which leads them to the plumbing.

With a root barrier, you can still have the benefits and beauty of a tree with the assurance that the tree roots are not able to reach the foundation, plumbing, driveway, or walkways. 

Does a root barrier work?

A root barrier built into the ground and around the tree will protect a foundation, gas and water lines from tree roots disturbing them, or even busting them. The root barrier simply redirects the tree roots where they can keep growing and providing the tree nutrients and water. There are different root barrier types available for assorted reasons. 

Chemically Treated Soil Root Barrier: Lasts for five years and will need to be reapplied to maintain the root barrier existence. This root barrier will stop the tree root growth totally when the root reaches the chemical. This is the most commonly used root barrier behind retaining walls.

Mechanical Treatment Root Barrier: Has an indefinite lifespan and is made using one of three different materials:

  • Concrete
  • Sheet Metal
  • Plastic Membrane

The mechanical treatment root barrier stops the tree roots from seeing any further growth and redirects the roots away from the foundation, gas, or water lines. This is the most commonly used root barrier for foundations and is most popular because the home still receives the benefits of shade and the beauty of the tree. 

What is the best root barrier?

The mechanical root barrier as described above is best for foundations, gas, and water lines around homes. They are typically deeper, which makes them the more effective type, and they also last longer. They are usually buried no less than 30 inches, with most buried 36 to 48 inches deep

What is a good root barrier?

A mechanical root barrier is the best, as we just mentioned. A chemical root barrier has to be reapplied every five years to maintain its effectiveness. With those two facts in mind, a good root barrier would be a mechanical style that is made from durable and impermeable materials. The durability helps keep the roots redirected, yet being impermeable, water still gets to the roots to keep the tree nourished. 

tree with exposed roots

Closing Thoughts

While trees add beauty to a home or any structure, they can be destructive to the foundation, gas, and plumbing lines. The roots cause driveways, sidewalks, streets, and walkways to crack and upheave, making it dangerous to walk over and causing wear and tear on a car’s front end and tires. 

With a chemical root barrier or mechanical root barrier, we are able to keep the trees and enjoy the benefits and beauty. The destruction they can cause is eliminated, which while the root barrier installation can be costly, it is a money saver with the destruction that tree roots can cause.

What are the signs of foundation problems?

cracks in a building's concrete foundation

Identifying Foundation Problems

As important as the roof is to your home, the foundation is just as important. Without the foundation, there wouldn’t be any walls for the roof to rest upon. With that in mind, it is just as essential to take care of the foundation as you would the roof. That includes keeping a watch for any foundation water damage and getting it taken care of. 

While water is good for the human body, it is not good for a home’s foundation. Water damage to a foundation can damage the rest of the house, and quickly if it isn’t discovered and fixed. How do you know when your home has foundation water damage? When should I be concerned about foundation problems? Here are eight signs of a bad foundation: 

1. Cracks and Fractures

If there is a cap in the foundation or the brick exterior, this is often from foundation water damage.  Cracks in the floor and walls, a broken, cracked, crumbling chimney can happen when the structure has movement and causes the foundation to shift. This can be from foundation water damage or soil under the foundation that contracts and expands. Inclement weather can often cause foundation damage too. 

2. Settling or Sinking

If your home appears to be settling or sinking, you should have a professional foundation inspection. Often, a house that is sinking to one side is from foundation water damage caused by busted plumbing or sewer lines. 

3. Upheaval

If the slab foundation of your home has suddenly risen in an upward direction, this is referred to as foundation upheaval, which can be from foundation water damage or soil shifting under the foundation. This upheaval will cause damage to the flooring and walls and make doors difficult to close and open. Exterior walls often start pushing upward and outward. 

4. Doors Malfunctioning

If the doors in your home are sticking, or won’t close/open properly, that is a common indication of foundation problems. As other examples we’ve listed, it can be from foundation water damage or soil movement under the foundation. 

5.  Gaps 

If you have noticed gaps around the exterior window frames, and around exterior doors, or the doors aren’t latching, you probably have foundation issues. Have a foundation inspection to confirm that is or isn’t the problem so you can get the issue fixed sooner than later.

6.   Floors Sagging or Uneven 

If the floors in your home aren’t level or they are bowing, dipping, sagging, you have foundation problems, especially if you have a pier and beam home. Uneven flooring can be dangerous for the elderly and small children, so getting this addressed as soon as possible is recommended. 

7. Dampness

If the crawl space or the pier & beam areas of your home have a heavy moisture presence, there is either currently foundation water damage, or there will be soon. Not only is the moisture and water damage bad for your home, but it will attract termites and other insects or critters that you don’t want to live under your home. 

8. Separating from The Wall

Are the kitchen cabinets or countertops pulling away from the wall or starting to tilt? That small gap they have now will only get bigger, so finding out if it is foundation water damage causing this or something else is important. 

Is it safe to live in a house with foundation problems?

If the gaps are minor, then yes, it is safe to live in a house with foundation water damage. While it isn’t an emergency requiring immediate attention, it is something that needs to be addressed soon. The longer you wait, the worse it is getting. Remember, water is an enemy for a house! 

Should I get my foundation inspected?

If you’re selling your home and a buyer is taking a mortgage to buy it, there will have to be an inspection of the entire house. If you’ve lived in your house for years and don’t plan on going anywhere, the following four things are indicators that an inspection for foundation water damage or other issues is recommended: 

  • Walk the Exterior Perimeter -Take a walk around the exterior of your home and look down the walls. If you see any bulging then that indicates that the foundation has an uneven load. Getting a professional foundation inspection will confirm the problem. 
  • Sloped Floors – If you’ve lived in your house for a while, you may not have noticed the floors starting to slope because it happens gradually. Take a tennis ball and place it on the floor in one room. If the ball starts to roll, then your foundation has a slope and you should have it inspected. 
  • Doors & Windows Sticking – the doors and walls will typically start giving you problems before the floors and walls when there is foundation water damage or any type of foundation issue. It is more than an annoyance when a door won’t close or stay open! 
  • Foundation Cracks – It can’t get any more obvious that you have possible foundation water damage or other types of foundation problems than a cracking foundation. If you haven’t noticed it from the exterior, take a look inside your house for cracks in the ceilings and walls. 

Is foundation inspection free?

There are companies that offer a free foundation inspection, but this is a service they can charge for if they desire. If they do charge a fee, the amount is typically discounted off any work they do for you. 

Who should inspect a foundation? 

There are contractors that offer foundation inspections and foundation water damage repairs. You can find them on the internet with a search for “Foundation inspections in my area”, and you’ll probably get pages of them. 

Can you fix foundation problems?

In most cases, yes, foundation water damage or other types of damage can usually be repaired. Techniques in the past for foundation repair included using materials like cement, concrete, steel, or wood being poured, pushed, turned, or forced in some matter into the ground under the foundation. 

Today, technology has taken the repairs of foundation, water damage, and other areas of the home in a different direction with trained experts, resulting in better successful results. Two of those methods are as follows: 

  • Slabjacking: Grout is pumped under the slab or beams and lifts the foundation or beam to its original and proper level. 
  • Hydraulic jacking: Also referred to as piering, this is done by driving steel posts into the unstable soil. Then hydraulic jacks raise and stabilize the concrete slab.

Can a house’s foundation be replaced?

Yes, if the foundation water damage can’t be repaired, replacement is possible. The process sounds simple, but it is a labor-intensive job, and won’t be inexpensive. The contractors will either support the house where it sits or raise the house and then stabilize it.  The old, damaged foundation is then demolished and removed. Once that is cleaned out, the new one and the house is lowered into place. 

home foundation under construction

In Closing 

So, maybe you’re planning on getting your foundation inspected, perhaps because you suspect some foundation water damage.  Once you find a contractor that does foundation inspection, what do they look for in a foundation inspection?

The foundation inspector will walk around the perimeter looking for foundation cracks and check the walls are flush flat (not bowed out). They will walk around inside your home looking for cracks in the ceiling and walls, along with raised or sunken flooring. A pier and beam foundation will have a somewhat different inspection procedure. The inspector will crawl under the house to check the pier & beams, making sure there isn’t any water damage. They will make any note of dampness or musty odor. If you suspect issues with your foundation you can get help by reaching out to our team at 817-400-7625.

Is a slab foundation a bad choice?

Image of a slab foundation being prepared.

Is a slab foundation good or bad?

Houses used to be built directly on the ground, right on the dirt, grass, or whatever else was there. Eventually, pier & beam came along that raised houses up using blocks, bricks, logs, and even car parts like transmissions. Then, the construction industry started building houses with slab foundations

Slab Foundation vs Pier & Beam

When considering slab foundations vs pier and beam today, you’re likely not going to find car parts and other odd things under a pier & beam house. That has graduated to cylinder blocks, cement piers, and some wood for leveling. 

A pier and beam house is typically found to be a stable foundation, and in some areas and situations, it is the preferred and recommended option. However, over time a pier and beam does tend to deteriorate as the ground shifts. Repairing a pier and beam is cheaper and easier compared to repairing a slab foundation. 

Real estate experts advise their clients to consider what they want for their preferred home – things such as: 

  • Basement
  • Crawlspace
  • Slab

Each provides a bonus, depending on what your plans are for your home. Things to be considered in making this decision would include: 

  • Lot grading or undisturbed soil
  • Drainage
  • Landscaping plans

Some advantages and disadvantages of having a slab foundation include:

  • A slab foundation or a basement will require excavation before building. This adds to the cost of the house. 
  • A slab foundation, in good condition, is less susceptible to insects, pests, and vermin entering the house. 
  • A slab foundation can make it difficult to repair plumbing that runs through the concrete slab.
  • A slab foundation helps with insulating the house. 
  • A slab foundation house is closer to ground level, minimizing the needs for steps. 

What are some slab foundation benefits?

In addition to the items we listed above, other advantages of a slab foundation house are the quick dry and cure, ready to build it offers, usually within a day. Also consider:

  • A slab foundation is strong and durable. 
  • A slab foundation is less likely to flood because it directs rainwater away from the house. 
  • A slab foundation is less likely to have mildew and mold issues because of this directed rainwater. 
  • When choosing between a slab foundation and a basement for your home, the slab foundation will typically max at $20,000, which is about half of what a basement will cost. 

Why is slab foundation bad?

Well, it isn’t. Not necessarily. What humans learned from building homes directly on the ground were that three things were needed: 

  1. The structure needed better support
  2. Groundwater needed to be redirected
  3. A barrier was needed against soil vapor and water

Once those three things have been addressed, you’re good to go with building the walls, roof, and other features. A concrete slab foundation is the most common and popular option used today in construction. Some preparation is required for a slab foundation, like a concrete footing 24 inches below the projected finish grade. 

After that, two layers of concrete block are placed on top of those footers. The internal plumbing piping is installed next. Next is the rock filler, and then four inches of concrete is poured. 

The main disadvantage of a slab foundation is that it can require expensive repairs. As the ground here in Texas shifts, slab foundations can crack or sink. As a slab foundation cracks or sinks, it can damage pipes, and getting those repaired can be expensive because of the jackhammering required to get to those pipes. However, today builders are using PEX plumbing, which has proven to be better in not breaking. 

Another disadvantage of a slab foundation is the lack of protection during inclement, severe weather events. With enough rainfall, the water can find its way into your home easier than it would with a pier and beam. 

How do you fix a crack in a slab foundation? And can a slab foundation be fixed?

Can a slab foundation be repaired? Yes – when a foundation issue is discovered early enough, it can be brought back to new with any of the following methods: 

  • Foam Jacking: This is a repair method that uses a polyurethane foam to bring a setting foundation back to grade level. It is installed in a checkerboard pattern, after which holes are drilled into the slab. Then this high-density foam is injected under the foundation, expanding and raising the slab up while filling empty spots. 
  • Masonry Patches and Sealants: If a foundation cracks because of shrinking soil, the cracks are usually around corners. Even though this isn’t considered a structural issue, it needs to be addressed so more damage isn’t done. This process is done with hydraulic cement, much like mortar, to create patches and seals. 
  • Epoxy Resin: This is like the use of a hydraulic cement sealant though a few more steps are required for strengthening. It can be injected or poured, depending on which method is best for the situation. 
  • Slab Jacking: If you notice a sinking foundation, you will typically discover the original dirt was not packed right during construction. This repair process is done by drilling holes into the slab foundation and adding a grout-type mixture that raises the concrete. 
  • Piling: There are different styles of piers and pilings used to repair foundations. This is an invasive method but it also lasts longer. 

Other methods for slab foundation repair include steel piers, helical piers, and spot piers. The contractor you choose to work with should advise you of the options best for your house along with the pros and cons of each. 

Close-up of metal framework being prepared for slab foundation.

In Closing

Just how long do slab foundations last? We’re going to estimate a lifespan of up to 100 years, and probably longer, if that slab foundation was prepped and installed correctly. So, is a crack in a slab foundation bad? Absolutely! With even a small crack, the foundation of your home is susceptible to more damage. This will not only allow insects, pests, and vermin inside your home but can also make the foundation meant to keep the walls and roof stable weaker.

Walls lean, roofs collapse – the possibilities of what can happen at this point are endless the longer the slab foundation isn’t repaired. If you suspect damage to your foundation, or you need help with a slab foundation in Dallas-Fort Worth Area, TX  or need repairs ASAP, contact the Solid Rock Foundation Repair team by calling 817-400-7625.

How to repair wall cracks

crack along door frame

Can you repair wall plaster?

Maybe you’ve had to do some electrical or plumbing around the house that required cutting into the drywall. Then here in Texas, the houses shift with the dirt, and with shifting foundations, the drywall cracks. Sometimes a drywall professional is needed, sometimes, you may be able to do your own wall repair

There are wall repair kits available at your local hardware store or the big box home repair centers so you can do it yourself. Wall repair isn’t as difficult as you may think, it is mostly patience and taking your time. We’re going to talk about wall repair in this piece today, what it takes and some tips on how to do wall repair or what you should expect from a professional drywall contractor. 

First, let’s clarify what drywall it though. Before drywall, the walls were plastered, in the early 1900s, the drywall invented by Augustine Sackett came to America. The construction of new homes changed forever. Drywall, sometimes called sheetrock, became the material to cover ceilings and interior walls at a low cost. Even better, it became a DIY-friendly project too! Even wall repairs are easy DIY projects. 

One repair method would be to rip out the old plaster and replace it with new, tape and bed the repair. Or you can opt to do your wall repair a cheaper, easier, and faster way by following these steps:

  1. Protect floors and walls where the repair is needed using plastic drop cloths held down with painter’s tape.
  2. Drill holes into the plaster with a 3/16-inch carbide-tipped drill bit for masonry use, being careful not to drill into the wooden lath. The holes should be spaced 3 inches apart around the area  needing wall repair. 
  3.  Using a shop vac clean dust from in and around the holes you drilled. The surface needs to be clear of dirt and dust. 
  4. Spray a liquid conditioner into each of the holes you drilled. Using a clean sponge, wipe off any extra conditioner that overflows down the wall. 
  5. With a utility knife, open the caulking product tube’s nozzle and place the tube in a caulking gun. 
  6. Squeeze some of the caulking product into each of the drilled holes with one full squeeze.
  7. As soon as you have squeezed the caulk into the holes, with a drill or screwdriver, insert a plaster ring to pull the plaster tight against the wooden lath.
  8. Once the adhesive is dry, remove all the screws and plastic rings with the drill. 
  9. Using the putty knife, scrape off any raised areas of  adhesive and apply a thin coating of joint compound with the putty knife.
  10. Let the compound sit overnight to dry then lightly sand the surface.
  11. Apply a thin second coat of compound.
  12. Once the compound has dried, prime, paint and your wall repair is done!

When do you do a wall repair with spackle? 

Half the battle of a wall repair is knowing which product you need to use, and because joint compound and spackle appear to do the same thing, they often get misused. 

Spackle is for small drywall or plaster wall repairs. Spackle has a goody consistency, similar to toothpaste, made with binders and gypsum powder. It is sold in small tubs of pre-mix solution is ideal for small wall repairs like dents, dings, and nail holes. Spackle dries faster and has less shrinkage. Within 30 minutes of completed your wall repair with spackle, you can sand and paint the wall. 

What to use instead of spackle? 

When you’re installing a wall or making a major size wall repair, joint compound the right choice. Joint compound, aka drywall mud, is made from gypsum dust, a wall repair fiber reinforced compound that you can buy the dust and mix it yourself or buy it in a tub pre-mixed and ready to use. 

When contracts are doing a drywall installation, they will affix sheets of gypsum board to the frame and then tape the seams. Next comes the joint compound  and some finish work, they have a smooth surface. Because spackle comes in smaller containers and dries fast, it doesn’t work well for wall installation or large wall repairs. 

crack in wall

Can you repair wall studs?

If your wall repair needs the wall studs repaired too, it is a doable job and not as difficult as you may think. The hard part is removing the drywall to get to the stud that needs repair. Then, you’ll need to replace the drywall you remove. The following 7 steps will walk you through the process: 

  • Step One: With a drywall saw, remove the drywall from the studs. Then remove the drywall screws or nails and trim the drywall edges with a utility knife to create smooth edges on all four sides. 
  • Step Two: If there are any electrical wire or plumbing on the or through the studs, remove them Use a reciprocating saw to remove the pipes if necessary. 
  • Step Three: Cut the nails that are holding the studs to the bottom and top plates by fitting the reciprocating saw blade in the gap between the plates and studs.
  • Step Four: Remove the damaged wall studs and fit the new ones in place, cutting notches in the new studs for the plumbing pipes. Cover those openings with metal plates so the drywall screws won’t pierce the pipes. Check the new studs with a level, making sure they are plumb. Now attach them to the bottom and top plates with two and half inch screws. No reattach the electrical wires and fasten with wire staples.
  • Step Five: Cut the new drywall to fit in the area where you removed the drywall  and fasten to the studs with drywall screws. The screw head should be sunk into the drywall paper.
  • Step Six: Spread the joint compound along the drywall seams then cover with drywall tape, scraping off any excess joint compound. Allow to sit overnight and dry. 
  • Step Seven: Apply three coats of joint compound allowing each coating to dry overnight and sand before applying the next coat. Now prime and paint your wall install or wall repair. 

As you can see, wall repair and painting isn’t as difficult as it may seem. If you’ve never done this type of DIY project, get a wall repair estimate from a professional drywall contractor. Once you have that quote review this piece and search the internet for how-to-do videos. Start with a small wall repair before you try to install whole dry wall! Call 817-400-7625 today for your wall crack repair in Dallas-Fort Worth Area, TX.

Is a pier and beam foundation good?

foundation

What is pier & beam foundation?

We hear about foundation repair a lot because most houses are built on a cement foundation today. This is where a slab of cement is poured, and the frame of the house is built on top of it.  What we don’t hear much about is pier & beam foundation repair

Pier and beam foundations are common among homes that at 50, 60, 75 years old and older. This is where piers, usually cement, are sunk into the ground and beams are placed in position, extending from one pier to the next.  Those beams support the joists that the subfloor is constructed on and then the actual flooring, leaving a crawl space under the house of about 18 inches between the joists and the ground. Pier & beam foundation repair is needed when the ground shifts and the house slides off one or more of those beams and beams slide off those piers. 

 How do you build a pier and beam?

In the 1960s and earlier, pier and beam was how houses were built. Then it was discovered that you could pour concrete into forms to create a slab foundation, and pier & beam became almost obsolete. Prior to slab foundation though, a pier & beam set up got the house off the ground and left a crawl space and in some instances, a basement. 

The construction style of pier & beam was unique, and as the ones that still exist, regular inspections are needed, often followed up by pier & beam foundation repair. How do you build a pier & beam foundation?  Four simple steps: 

  • Step One: Sink piers in the ground until they are solid planted. This can be cement piers or wooden (cedar) piers. 
  • Step Two: Add a concrete base around each pier to prevent them from shifting. 
  • Step Three: Add beams (usually wood, some use steel) from pier to pier. These will be used to connect the subfloor joists. 
  • Step Four: Set the subfloor on the beams then the flooring base on that.

Is pier and beam foundation permanent?

There is a variety of components that are considered to create a permanent foundation, like concrete blocks when used with Earthquake Resistant Bracing System (ERBS). This  systemic system requires support piers to be spaced following the home manufacturers recommendations between the positive earthquake bracing support. A few examples of homes that are pier supported besides the pier and beam foundation are: 

  • Manufactured homes
  • Modular homes
  • Mobile homes 

Piers can be made from cement or wood as mentioned above in the steps to construct a pier & beam foundation. Concrete blocks stacked are used for piers as well, with any of these methods considered to be a permanent foundation.

Why pier & beam foundation instead of a foundation slab?

 With the knowledge that a pier & beam foundation  will need adjusting and pier & beam foundation repairs, as well as eventually can deteriorate over time, why is a pier & beam foundation installation still a popular choice?  One of the key pier & beam foundation benefits that make it first choice for many homeowners is less expensive for pier & beam foundation repairs that a cement slab foundation. 

Another benefit, any plumbing additions or repairs are easier to and less expensive because of the 18” crawl space. Pier & beam foundations are easier for home that are built with these factors to consider: 

  • Contraction and expansion of the soil is substantial.
  • Construction is planned on a hillside or on an uneven grade.
  • The home is in a flood prone area.

How deep are pier and beam foundations?

The piers themselves should be buried no less than 12” below the ground. In areas where winters bring freezing temperatures regularly, the piers must be 12” below the frost line. Regardless of where the home is built, the piers should have a foot that is eight inches thick and two times wider than the posts it is supporting. 

How far apart should house piers be?

The standard distance is eight to ten feet. However, if the structure is to be multistory or made of heavy material like steel, the engineer may recommend they be placed closer together like four to six feet.

house with pier and beam foundation

What are the two common footing problems with Piers?

Pier & beam foundations are typically a very stable way to build a home. However, like a slab foundation, they do have their own problems: 

  • Collapsing Piers: Piers have fully or partially collapsed, leaned, or sunk. These can be reset and stabilized by a professional contractor. 
  • Beams Shift: The beams can shift, typically happens when the piers have shifted or sunk. 
  • Failed Shims: A home that has previously been shimmed with poor quality shims like plywood will rot, requiring the house to be releveled using better grade shims. 
  • Beams Decay or Rot: This is a problem with wooden beams that are exposed to moisture.

Need help with your pier and beam foundation in Dallas-Fort Worth Area, TX? Solid Rock Foundation Repair is here to help. Call 817-400-7625 today.

What does it mean when a house is leveled?

house leveling

How do you know if your house needs leveling?

You were recently at a friend’s house and they said their house was leveled recently. Since you’re sitting inside it, you realize they didn’t mean it was leveled as in “gone”. Instead, what they meant was they have recently had house leveling done, getting their house on even level.  

Here in Texas, every homeowner should know two things about their house: One) If it doesn’t have termites, it will. Two) If you haven’t needed house leveling yet, you will.  Texas isn’t the only place that you can be almost certain that the foundation is going to settle unevenly. 

Foundation issues shouldn’t be ignored either. There is more than just the doors and windows that won’t close or open. An uneven house can cause structural damage and plumbing issues too. The sooner you have a house leveling service done, the better. If you aren’t having issues with the doors and windows, there are other issues that indicate your home needs house leveling: 

  • Visible wall cracks: A definite indication the foundation of your home needs house leveling are visible wall cracks. A home with brick exterior with cracks in the mortar are a definite indicator. 
  • Basement walls bowing: There aren’t many homes with basements in Texas, but those that have a basement and notice the walls are leaning inward is an indication the foundation is shifting. Have a house leveling inspection done as soon as possible before you find the ground level of your house is below the ground.  
  • Lopsided, sloped floors: A home with a pier and beam foundation that has lopsided, sloping, and uneven flooring or floors that sag are an indication that house leveling is needed.     
  • Ceiling and walls gap: When a foundation shifts, it can produce a gap between the ceiling or crown molding and the walls, doors, and windows.  When you notice these gaps, it is time to call for a house leveling quote. 
  • Doors and windows sticking: As we mentioned earlier, sticking doors and windows are an indicator of foundation issues. House leveling will make those doors and windows close and open easily and completely. 

How does house leveling work?

There are a few things that can cause foundation settling that only house leveling can help: 

  • A Water Leak – Common in Texas for underground water pipes to bust or crack and cause the foundation to settle and shift. 
  • The Soil Type – A good part of Texas has clay soil which expands and swells when wet then shrinks when it dries. This ground movement isn’t cohesive with foundations. 
  • Preparing a Lot – Many houses in developments are built in lots that have been filled with dirt to create a higher ground. That fill dirt starts to settle, the foundation settles with it.  

These all lead to the need for house leveling, which is when professional contractors will lift your home and place supporting beams, blocks, and other materials under it. House leveling restores a home to its original position and ensures the foundation is stable and sturdy. 

How do I level my house myself?

If your house is a wood frame pier and beam structure, it will have a crawl space that makes it convenient for water pipe repairs, termite treatment or other troubles that would be a bigger issue if on a cement slab.

The one downside to a pier and beam house in this part of the country, the footings that support the house may settle, the wooden beams sag, and that creates the need for house leveling.

While it isn’t a complicated process, it isn’t easy and if not done right, can cause more problems than it helps. Even the adventurous DIY homeowner will step back and let a professional handle this task. 

The house leveling for pier and beam task requires using house jacks, cinderblocks, and wooden beams, along with a level and several helping hands. This is not a one-person task and may not be completed in one day either.  

How do you jack up a house to level it?

 Here, we provide the steps for leveling house with jacks. Again, you’ll need some help because it is not possible to level an entire house solo. The bigger the house, the more help you’ll need: 

  • Step One: It is recommended to have a structural engineer inspection to check the damage before you and your help begin crawling under the house for this task.
  • Step Two: Taking a level with you, crawl under the house then place the level on the beams running under the house. If the bubble isn’t in the center of the level, then that area needs house leveling. 
  • Step Three: Check the beams and floor condition, if they are warped, they need to be replaced. Then check the beam level again.  If you’re lucky, that fixed the house leveling need. 
  • Step Four: Using a chalk line, mark the low areas of the foundation and position a  floor jack under each one. Ideally, you have one person per jack. After positioning jacks all around the house, at the same time, every person needs to raise their house jack slowly at the same time. One person needs to be under the house checking the beams with the level until all beams are even. 
  • Step Five: Measure the new height beside each jack  between the beam and ground. Create new piers with the cinderblocks and position them next to the spots that are jacked-up. You should have various sizes of cinderblocks and use them as needed to create the right height needed. 
  • Step Six: Simultaneously, lower the jacks and pull them out. 

Is it safe to live in a house with foundation problems?

That depends on how bad the foundation is, but in most cases, yes, it safe.  The soil and weather conditions change in Texas, but houses are built to withstand the pressure and stress that come with those different conditions. Because most homes in Texas don’t have a basement, that fear of a collapsed basement wall isn’t an issue for us. 

However, it the foundation sinks more to one side than the others, it will affect how your furniture sits, the doors and windows open, and it can damage the plumbing and the structure itself.  The sooner you can have a professional house leveling service inspect your home and give you an estimate on house leveling, the better. 

a leveled home with garden

Who Pays For House Leveling? 

Of course, anything to do with your home, the first question is often, “Does homeowners insurance cover house leveling?”, and as it is with other things with you homeowners, it depends.  Every policy is different.  When it comes to natural disasters, the foundation is covered with the rest of your home. However, there are many foundation issues that may be excluded from your policy. It is recommended to become familiar with your policy and the different events that it will cover what and when. Need house leveling in Dallas-Fort Worth Area, TX? Call 817-400-7625 today.

What is a French Drain?

french drain

Is a French drain necessary?

Your landscape contractor has told you that your lawn needs a French drain. So, what is a French drain and why do I need a French drain? Well, the first thing you need to know French Drain is named after a person, not the country or food item. It was Henry Flagg French, an American, the president of Massachusetts Agricultural College, that invented the French drain. 

This landscaping tool sounds exotic, but it is common and in some landscaping situations, it is an important tool that removes water from an area that doesn’t have good drainage.  It is used a lot in fields and today, it is common around homes with landscaping issues from standing water. Essentially, a French drain is underground gutter system for your yard and moves water from where it won’t drain and causing problems.   

Water runs downhill naturally, so when humans build houses or retaining walls, it tends to get the way of that natural process. A French drain is an effective and simple to reroute water from a crawl space, driveway, foundation, or retaining wall.  When water isn’t running downhill or the bottom of the hill is your home and landscaping. 

When should you use a French drain?

How do you know if your landscaping and yard needs a French drain?  If you are experiencing any of the following issues, you should talk to a landscaper about installing a French drain: 

  • Crawl Space Floods: If the crawl space of your home is flooding, having a French drain installed will send that water away from your home.  Leave it as it is, you are leaving your home in danger of being damaged, mildew and mold building up under your house, and more. 
  • Soggy Yard or Driveway Washed-Out: If your yard takes days to dry out after a rain before you can mow, or you have to rake rock back into your driveway after a good rain, a French drain could be the answer to your problems. Keep your lawn healthy and driveway rock where it belongs.
  • A Retaining Wall: If you have a retaining wall or plan on building one a hillside or slope, the first thing you should do is have a French drain installed. With this installed behind the first course of the retaining wall, it will keep the water from building up at the bottom of the wall and draining toward your home.

Do French drains really work?

Like anything, A French drain can only work as good as it is installed. French drains require a perforated pipe, a trench, and geotextile fabric with gravel. If the slope isn’t adequate, a French drain won’t work as well as intended, a factor that is overlooked too often, giving French drains a bad name.   An adequate slope is no less than two feet lower for every 100 ft of pipe. A four inch drainpipe should be covered with two inches of soil once it is in place. This will allow water across the surface to drain and the French drain to work properly. 

How long do French drains last?

A professionally installed French drain can last up to forty years. However, there are two factors that can shorten that expected life cycle: 

  • The French drain becomes clogged with dust, mineral, and grain particles from the soil that surrounds the drain. This can be minimized when the French drain is installed by putting twelve inches of crushed stone over the drain. 
  • The French drain is incorrectly installed, common when installed by contractor that isn’t experienced installing French drains, usually not deep enough or the slope isn’t enough. 

French drains are affected by the environment and can wear out over time. Simply having it rebuilt and adjustments made will give you another 40 years of water moving service. 

How deep should a French drain be?

As shallow as eight inches and as deep as two feet. The depth will depend on the goal intended as to where the water is a problem and where you need it redirected.  The base of a retaining wall will likely require a French drain to be deeper than it would be around the foundation of your home.  An experienced landscaper will have the knowledge to determine the proper depth. In some rare cases where a basement or crawlspace keeps taking on water and the French drain isn’t being as efficient has hoped, a sump pump may need to be installed. 

drain

What’s the difference between a French drain and trench drain?

A drainage system is more than just digging holes. There are French drains and Trenches, both are effective ways in moving water, but they are different. A French drain is below the surface whereas a trench drain is on the surface. 

  • A French drain is a gravel-filled trench that has a perforated pipe on the gravel with a permeable fabric along the bottom of the trench to keep any roots intruding. It then siphons the water down and away from where it isn’t wanted.  
  • A trench drain is an above-ground method of draining water by way of embedded materials. A long and narrow trench is dug and then a grate is installed over that trench. 

You’re likely asking, “Do you have to have a landscaper or other professional install a French drain, or Can I install a French drain myself?”, and the answer is yes. With all the online videos and the big box stores offering assistance, some even offer classes, any homeowner with DIY motivation and tools can install their own French drain. Call 817-400-7625 today!

Are Drywall Cracks Serious?

A Drywall Crack

Are drywall cracks serious?

If you see a crack running up the wall, your first reaction might be panic. Don’t panic. A drywall crack isn’t necessarily a serious problem. When should I be concerned about drywall cracks? Some cracking may occur after construction because of drying and shrinking. You should be concerned with cracks that are jagged, stair-stepped, or at a 45-degree angle because these cracks could indicate some sort of settling or other structural movement. Even then, the greatest concern should be with the width of the crack. If it’s more than 1/4-inch wide you probably want to have professionals like those at Solid Rock Foundation Repair check it out, especially if it runs horizontally near the connection of partition walls and ceilings upstairs. Call us today at 817-400-7625 for expert wall repair in Dallas-Fort Worth Area, TX

Why is my drywall cracking?

A drywall crack might appear for several reasons. Some are serious, others are often of little concern. Your drywall might be cracking because:

  • Seasonal temperature changes or humidity
  • Foundation settling
  • Frame deterioration from rot or insects like termites
  • Poorly sized framing or bad connections

Does drywall crack in cold weather?

Seasonal temperature fluctuations can cause most building materials to expand and contract, but most builders compensate for these issues if the material is installed properly. People, however, often notice that a drywall crack will appear in the winter. Usually, the problem isn’t with the cold weather itself. Below freezing temperatures won’t cause the drywall to crack.

But, because you are heating your home regularly, and in particular if you have problems with inadequate insulation, cracks can develop in time. Moisture often builds up when there is inadequate insulation and this leads to problems like your wood frame rotting. Moreover, if you are in a newer home with a single-piece truss supporting your roof that truss can expand and contract in cold weather when attics aren’t adequately insulated. The truss can then lift and create cracks between upper-level walls and the ceiling.

Drywall crack on ceiling

As with cracks in walls, cracks on your ceiling aren’t necessarily a cause for alarm. If insufficient drywall mud was used in the home construction, cracks can develop later, but these cracks tend to be superficial and can be ignored. What’s problematic are cracks that are wider than 1/8-inch. Cracks of this size often indicate a structural problem. Truss lift, which occurs because of temperature fluctuations, can also lead to ceiling cracks and can only be permanently fixed by reattaching the drywall blocks or clips on interior wall plates. If a crack is discolored, you have a moisture problem, and you’ll need to determine where the leak originated and repair the leak before you repair the ceiling crack.

How do I stop my drywall from cracking?

Most drywall cracks are caused by poor installation, usually at the seams, and are hard to prevent. The seams aren’t supported with enough drywall mud and tape. Another installation problem—nail popping—occurs when the nails holding the drywall in place pop away from the stud. The drywall surface dimples because of this. You can prevent nail popping by using high-quality lumber so the studs won’t warp.

Can you caulk a drywall crack?

When you are patching drywall cracks, you can make the repairs with paintable caulk instead of patching compound. A water-washable caulk can be applied directly to the crack with your finger. After any excess is wiped away, it will take about 30 minutes for the caulk to set.

Will paint fill hairline cracks?

When patching hairline cracks around doors and windows, you might be tempted to fill in the crack with paint. This won’t work. Several other materials can be used to repair drywall cracks. One common repair method is to cover the crack with paper, fiberglass, or mesh tape and a flexible joint compound. Also effective is using the spackling compound for really fine cracks, although some people use spackling paste, the paste is not as effective. Paintable caulk is the simplest to use and can be spread into the crack with your finger or a putty knife.

A Drywall Crack Over a Door

Drywall crack repair near me

Often cracks in your drywall are not harmful, and such cracks generally just require some cosmetic repairs you can do yourself. However, if you take the time to measure them, especially really jagged cracks, and discover they are more than 1/4-inch wide, it might be time to call in a professional to look at the crack. Such cracks may be the result of structural damage in your home, including foundation damage. If serious damage is discovered and you need drywall crack repair in Dallas-Fort Worth Area, TX, look to the experts at Solid Rock Foundation Repair. With years of experience behind them, our technicians are quickly able to diagnose the problem and provide you with the right solutions that will ensure the job is done right. You can find out more about how we can help by calling 817-400-7625.