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Is Your House Foundation Failing?

Last Updated Jan 31, 2011 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald

If your home seems to be showing more and more cracks, it could actually be a sign of deeper problems with your foundations.  It can be tough to tell if you have an issue with your foundations or not so you will need to engage the help of professionals.  Here’s what you need to know.

Signs of a Failing Foundation

A failing house foundation is a very serious problem so how do you tell if there are problems with your foundation?  There are some signs that could alert you to foundation issues and these include:

  • Cracks on the exterior of your home, particularly in a “stepped” pattern on your brickwork
  • Cracks in walls and doors
  • Cracks coming from the corners of doors and windows
  • Doors and windows that jam when opening
  • Difficulty locking doors and windows
  • Separation at the corners of the roofline where the trim is
  • Cracks in the perimeter of the slab
  • Cracks in your tiles or uneven floors

Having Your Foundation Checked

If you suspect that there are problems with your foundation, it is absolutely vital that you call a professional in to take a look, and to give you advice on how best to remedy the problem.  You will want to call in a structural engineer, a construction and foundation repair specialist, or another similar tradesperson.  They will look at your home’s foundations, diagnose the cause of the failure or problem and then suggest the best remedy to cure the problem and ensure that your home is stable.

You may also want to consult a geotechnical engineer as they are specialists in soil conditions and they can tell you what types of soil you have and if these are a contributing factor to the failing foundation.

What to Do If Your Foundation is Failing

If the engineer or another qualified professional has told you that your foundation is failing and requires repairs, the next step in the process is to contact a professional foundation repair company.  These companies will repair your foundation using the appropriate method. There are different methods that can be used such as slap jacking, piering, and underpinning.  Slap jacking is used for minor problems and it involves pumping cement grout through holes. The grout then solidifies and provides a good bearing for the slab.

Piering is used for more serious cases of foundation failure.  It works by using mechanical jacks to actually raise your house (just like a car), and to lift the foundations back to where they need to be.  Once the house is back in the correct position, specially designed piers and footings are used to support the home and foundation and to keep it in place.

Underpinning is another method of repairing failing foundations and it involves digging underneath an existing strip footing in order to determine the damage to the foundation. Once this is done, new concrete is placed under or around the existing foundation to stabilise the soil and the existing footing. It also raises the walls and floors to their original levels.

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