Concrete slab foundations are one of the most common types of foundations for American homes. They are relatively simple to pour, sturdy, and long-lasting. However, just like any part of your home, a slab foundation will have its problems. They may crack, parts of the concrete can crumble, and they can even sink into the dirt or shift around with earthquakes, erosion, and soil expansion and contraction due to rain or drought.
When your slab foundation begins to show signs of a problem, how do you go about fixing it? Read on for an overview of how a foundation repair company typically addresses slab foundation problems. Or you can click “visit website” for more information.
Step 1: Diagnose the Problem
When you call a foundation repair company, you’ll need to briefly describe the problems you’re having: cracks in the walls, sagging floors, sticking doors and windows, water damage, etc. The company will then send a structural engineer over to your house to take a look at the foundation and diagnose the problem.
The structural engineer will perform a thorough inspection, checking both the interior and the exterior walls of your foundation. They will take measurements and check the drainage around your house, then recommend a repair method and give you a quote for what you can expect to pay.
Step 2: Decide on a Repair Method
After the inspection is completed, the inspector will share their findings with you and make some recommendations as to how you should have the foundation repaired. They’ll usually make a diagram to show you exactly where the damage is as they go over what they’ve found. Here are a few methods that they may recommend:
- Slabjacking. Slabjacking is the most common method of concrete slab foundation repair. It is typically used to lift up a foundation that has sunk into the ground. Small holes are drilled into the foundation around the edges, then a mixture made of sand, water, and other strengthening ingredients is pumped underneath the slab using a hydraulic pump. The mixture is pumped until the slab is even, at which time the pump is removed and the holes in the foundation are sealed up.
- Piers and pilings. Another effective method to strengthen a weakening slab foundation is the use of steel piers and concrete pilings to support the foundation from underneath. This method is popular for foundations that have weakened with age or begun to sag in the middle.
- Accepting defeat. Very rarely, an inspector may recommend walking away from the foundation and selling the house instead of trying to fix it. Some foundation experts say that they’ve only seen a few foundations in the entirety of their careers that were truly beyond repair, but it does happen. You only need to consider giving up on your foundation if the walls are bulging inwards, the cracks in your walls or floor have started to splinter off in different directions, or you get a repair estimate that is above the value of your home.
Step 3: Get More Than One Estimate
In order to make sure that you’re getting a fair and reasonable rate for the slab foundation repair work you’re having done, it’s always a good idea to get more than one quote for the job. Many foundation repair companies offer a free inspection and estimate, so you shouldn’t have to worry about how much you’ll spend to have the estimate itself done.
If you get a less expensive quote from one company but prefer the other- whether you trust their work more, know the people who run the company, or just have a good feeling- give the one you prefer a call. Mention that you’d like to hire them, but you got a lower quote from a different company. Some companies are willing to match the lower price in order to secure your business.
Step 4: It’s Repair Time
The final step is the repair itself. When it comes time to fix your foundation, what can you expect? First off, unless the foundation damage is so severe that the house is structurally unstable, you shouldn’t have to move out or spend the night elsewhere during the repair process. You may need or want to leave the house for a few hours, though- the process may be loud.
The company will likely send out a contractor and a crew to perform the repair. The structural engineer who did the inspection may be with them, but it’s unlikely.
The repair time will depend on the method and the efficiency of the crew you’ve hired, along with the level of damage to your foundation. A simple slabjacking job may take as little as 1-4 hours, where slab foundation repair using concrete pilings and steel piers can take up to a few days to complete.
Payment methods will vary based on the company you’ve hired. Some companies require the cost to be paid in full at the time of the repair, while others have payment plans or financing available. Some companies even partner with banks to offer loans for people who need a payment schedule. Discuss this with the company when you get the initial repair estimate.
Which Method is Most Cost-Effective?
Cost is an important factor in choosing a repair method. Some people even try to time their repairs for a time of year when they know they’ll be more financially sound. If cost is the determining factor in your project, which repair method should you choose?
Though the final cost will, of course, come down to who you hire and where exactly you live, slabjacking will often be the less expensive choice. This is because it requires less intensive labor. Drilling holes into the concrete and pumping a mixture underneath is still quite the endeavor, but less so than the excavation that’s required for a foundation repair with steel piers.
As for which method is the sturdiest choice for your foundation: on paper, both steel piers and concrete slabjacking are very sturdy and long-lasting methods of foundation repair. However, the repair method that fits your home best will differ with elevation, slope, erosion, the damage to your foundation, and a lot of other factors. The best way to determine which one will support your home best is to speak with your contractor and inspector.
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