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A Guide to Foundation Repair for Different Foundation Types

Technician attaching foundation pier to a home's foundation.

Your foundation is arguably the most important part of your home. It keeps your home’s structure intact, and by extension, protects everything inside.

When foundation damage occurs, it puts your entire home at risk. In this guide, we’ll outline the various ways to repair a foundation and why doing so is a valuable investment in the long term.

How to Repair 3 Common Foundation Types

Foundation repair is possible for nearly any foundation type. In the Southeast United States, the most common foundations are crawl spaces, basements, and concrete slab foundations. Each foundation type has specific tools that work best to repair it. Here, we’ll outline the most effective foundation repair methods for these three main foundation types.

Foundation Repair for Concrete Slabs

Homes with a concrete slab (sometimes called a “slab on grade”) are best repaired with foundation piers. Most professional repair companies, including AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists, can install three types of foundation piers—push piers, helical piers, and slab piers. While they all accomplish the same goal, there are some differences between the three:

AFS technician placing a slab pier below concrete floor.
  • Push piers: Straight design, work for most situations, attach to foundation footing, and then extend deep beneath the ground into bedrock.
  • Helical piers: “Screw-like” design, mostly used for lighter structures, hydraulically twisted into the ground and then into bedrock to bolster the foundation.
  • Slab piers: Usually used for homes with little yard space or for damage that isn’t easy to reach from the outside, placed directly underneath concrete.

Each pier system will redistribute the weight of your foundation and keep your home stable for years to come.

Foundation Repair for Basements

Foundation damage in basements usually appear as wall shearing, floor cracks, or bowing walls. The most effective way to repair and prevent basement damage is with wall repair systems. At AFS, we can install several different wall repair tools in your basement to stop damage and straighten your basement walls.

Three steel I-beams on a concrete basement wall.
  • Steel I-beams: Sturdy beams that attach to the basement wall, floor, and ceiling. Over time, they straighten a basement wall back to a safe position and prevent further movement.
  • Carbon Fiber Reinforcement: Strong, yet light carbon fiber strips are glued to the wall. They stop cracks from growing and keep the wall from bending, without taking up much room in your basement, making them best for small spaces.
  • Channel Anchors: Metal channels attach to the wall and connect to anchors buried in the yard just outside the basement. This combination pulls the wall back into place and keeps it straight.
  • Wall Anchors: Similar to channel anchors, wall anchors are plates connected by steel rods running through the wall to outside anchors. By tightening these rods over time, the wall becomes straight and stable again.

Each method helps prevent foundation damage from occurring again, keeping your basement safe and sound.

Foundation Repair for Crawl Spaces

Crawl space support jacks attached to wooden beams.

For homes with a crawl space foundation, the best repair option is a crawl space support jack system. These steel support beams attach to the floor joists in your crawl space, strengthening the entire structure.

Most crawl space jacks can be adjusted to match the size of your crawl space. Since they strengthen your crawl space, they also help prevent foundation damage (such as uneven floors) from forming down the line.

What Causes Foundation Damage?

Foundation issues can arise for several reasons. Here are five of the most common causes of foundation damage we see in the field every day:

Water Damage

Puddle of water in a yard.

Water damage frequently causes foundation issues. Excess water from leaks, heavy rains, or floods weakens the structure as it accumulates around the foundation. This moisture can penetrate cracks and freeze, expanding and enlarging the cracks. This cycle, repeated over time, significantly damages the foundation.

Expansive Soil

Expansive soil swells when wet and shrinks when dry, exerting pressure on the foundation and causing it to move, crack, or buckle. Special precautions are necessary for homes on this type of soil to prevent the shifting ground from causing structural problems.

Tree Roots

Roots growing through crumbling bricks.

Tree roots often lead to foundation damage as they grow in search of water, pushing against the foundation or drawing moisture from the soil beneath, causing the ground to shift and the foundation to crack. Planting large trees at a safe distance from the house is important to prevent this issue.

Foundation Defects

Improper construction can also undermine a foundation. Using poor-quality materials or incorrect techniques during construction may result in a foundation that cannot adequately support the house. These defects can lead to uneven settling, cracks, and other serious structural problems.

Insufficient Drainage

Puddle forming below a downspout.

Maintaining proper drainage is essential for foundation health. If water does not properly drain away from the house, it can pool around the foundation, causing erosion, soil instability, and increased hydrostatic pressure. It is crucial to ensure that gutters, downspouts, and landscaping effectively direct water away from the foundation.

How to Prevent Foundation Damage 

Watch this video from our friends at Groundworks for 12 foundation repair tips. Some basic steps you can take are:

  • Install Proper Drainage: Implement appropriate grading, gutters, and downspouts to direct water away from the foundation. 
  • Regular Soil Maintenance: Manage moisture levels in the soil surrounding the foundation. 
  • Routine Inspections: Conduct periodic inspections with help from a professional to identify issues before they get worse. 

FAQs

Uneven floors are not always a sign of foundation damage; they can also result from normal settling, poor construction, or issues with floor joists or beams. However, if you notice significant or sudden unevenness, it’s wise to have it checked out to rule out potential foundation problems.

Yes, our wall anchor system can be installed on all types of foundation walls including concrete block and poured concrete. Our team will evaluate your specific situation and recommend the best solution for your needs.

Cracks in walls and ceilings, uneven floors, and brick cracking can also indicate foundation issues. 

Schedule a Free Foundation Inspection With AFS

AFS technician holding metal rod over shoulder and smiling.

If you have concerns about foundation damage, don’t hesitate to contact AFS. We’ve been helping homeowners across the Southeastern United States with foundation repair since 2000, and we’re ready to do the same for you.

With industry-leading solutions and an experienced team, we’re committed to taking care of your home. Don’t let foundation cracks ruin the safety and comfortability of your home—schedule a free inspection with AFS today!

Related Resources

Ted Dryce

Ted Dryce

Content Writer

Ted is an SEO Content Writer who has been with Groundworks since 2021. He’s covered home repair topics ranging from crawl space encapsulation to regional soil conditions. When he’s not working, Ted is performing improv comedy and working on his own creative projects.

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