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Foundation Repair

Cracked bricks, sticking doors and windows, and cracks around door frames are signs of foundation problems.

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Your foundation is the key element that makes up your home’s structural integrity. It is responsible for keeping your home upright and safe for you and your family. When it begins experiencing problems due to water or soil, it can spell out trouble for the rest of your home. Destruction such as bowing or cracking walls, sticking windows and doors, floor and wall gaps, and sloping or uneven floors are all signs of foundation damage. For the most part, foundation problems arise due to the soil upon which it was built.  

In Birmingham, the area is filled with expansive clay soil that swells when it becomes saturated and shrinks when it dries out in the warmer months. This repeated shrink-and-swell cycle can lead to your foundation settling and shifting into the soil which can cause severe structural defects. If you notice any of the above problem signs happening in your home, it’s important to set up an inspection with the team at AFS Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists. We proudly offer tailored solutions for your foundation’s exact needs, and we have over 20 years of experience in pinpointing what’s happening to your home.  


CAUSES of Foundation Damage

Your foundation can suffer damage for various reasons, including problematic soil under and around your home. Here are some common causes of foundation issues.

Loamy soils are usually a very stable soil that shows little change with the increase or decrease of moisture temperature.

The primary concern with foundations built on loamy soils is erosion. When soils underneath your foundation erode, they may begin to be inappropriate strata for sustaining the weight of a foundation and home structure.

Soils rich in clay and silt have the greatest potential to damage a foundation. Clay absorbs water easily, expanding in volume as it becomes more saturated. So-called “expansive clays” can cause foundations to crack, heave and shift.

When clay soils dry out, they shrink and crack, leaving gaps around a house where water from the next storm can penetrate easily and deeply to repeat the expansion cycle. Clay-rich soils usually cause more foundation damage by expanding than by contracting.

Water passes through sandy soils rather than being absorbed. This fact makes sandy soils very stable. Instead of expanding as they absorb moisture and contracting as they dry out, sandy soils maintain a fairly consistent volume and density.

Because of their stability and good load-bearing qualities, sandy soils are less likely to shift and settle, so they rarely cause foundation problems. Unfortunately, sandy soils are less commonly found than other more problematic soil types.

A tree growing in expansive soil can be dangerous because as the roots grow, they compact the soil and push it towards the foundation walls and place a lot of pressure on them. Bama soil, on the other hand, does not compact very well because of all the sand. Bama soil is incredibly brittle too, so as the tree roots grow, they displace the brittle sandy loam, creating gaps along your foundation soil.

Knowing what kind of tree you have and how much water it absorbs is just as important as knowing what kind of soil you have. This way, you can landscape your yard in a way that works best for whatever soil and trees you have.

When the soils underneath your foundation fail to support the weight of your home, the foundation will begin to settle unevenly, and cracks will appear.

As vertical cracks form and the wall or corner of the house begins to rotate, you will typically see cracks that are wider at the top or bottom.

Foundation cracks that are caused by settlement are very serious, and they will only get worse over time as the home continues to move. If you are concerned that your foundation may be cracking due to settlement issues, it’s best to consult a professional right away.

More about foundation settlement.

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Is Foundation Repair the Right Solution for Me?

If you’re wondering if your foundation is damaged because of the problem signs you’re noticing around your home, chances are, it is. Foundation problems are usually caused by the underlying soil which can erode or wash away, leaving your home to shift and settle. Although the damage may start out small, it can grow into more serious problems over time. Luckily, at AFS Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists, we specialize in repairing and restoring foundations so that you can rest easy knowing your home is structurally sound once more.

FAQS

Foundation replacement has never been taken lightly, of course, but there was a time when it was the only viable option for many people. This is, thankfully, no longer the case. While there are some cases in which replacement is necessary, we always view it as a last resort. 

Lifting and Repair 

Lifting and repairing a damaged foundation is easier than ever thanks to things like polyurethane foam and foundation pier systems. These tools and products make it possible to lift, stabilize, and restore foundations that would have been considered beyond saving even 50 years ago! Of course, they are specialist tools that require professional input, but the benefits of repairing rather than replacing your property’s foundation are many. 

First and foremost, there is the matter of cost. While no one would even call foundation repair a small expense, replacing a foundation is still more expensive and, sadly, far less effective. You see, repair methods address the cause of the damage in a way that simply replacing a foundation cannot. This means that pier systems and other repair products offer an all-around solution. 

Replacement as a Last Resort 

The biggest problem with replacing a damaged foundation is the fact that it simply ignores the underlying issues. This means that, as well as being expensive and inconvenient, replacement is ineffective unless you also invest in a repair solution that deals with the original cause of the damage. As such, a replaced foundation is almost certain to experience the same issues as the original one. 

This is why replacement is a last resort. Here at AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists, we will only ever suggest replacement if your foundation is entirely defective or too damaged to be salvaged and repaired. Even then, we will do our best to only replace the sections of a foundation that are beyond help. This will take a long time and cause much disruption, however, because the new foundation concrete must be allowed to properly set before we will be able to install piers or other repair solutions.  

Wall braces are one of the most reliable solutions to bowing walls. Their only downside is that some space is required for their installation. If you and your neighbor’s property lines are too close or there simply isn’t enough yard space for the job to be completed, then AFS has the solution: IntelliBrace™ Wall System. 

  • Wall Braces  

SettleStop is a wall bracing system that stabilizes bowing walls and even straightens them over time. The steel beams have a rust-resistant coating of zinc and are guaranteed to last for the rest of the property’s life, making it a long-term solution to bowing basement walls. 

One of the best things about wall braces is that they don’t require any kind of excavation. No yard disturbance is necessary for installation, making it a perfect solution for homeowners that want minimum disturbances while the wall is being repaired. It’s also perfect for those that don’t have the space for wall anchors, since the bracing system is all installed indoors. 

  • How They Help  

The wall braces are first cut to fit the height of your basement. The braces are then attached to brackets at the top. The contractor then makes sure that every beam is in place using a level ruler and finishes setting the beams so they are perfectly spaced out. 

At the bottom of the beams, at the floor joists, bolts are used to tighten the beams against the wall. Because the I-beams used for the IntelliBrace™ system run along the entirety of the wall, tightening the bolts forces the wall to straighten out to its original position. 

Although it may not seem like it, foundation heave can cause quite a lot of problems in your home, especially if it goes unfixed. Fortunately, foundation heave can be quite easy to catch before it results in these drastic results. Regardless, foundation heave that goes unfixed can be very destructive. 

Other Foundation Issues 

Foundation heave that remains unrepaired can lead to even more foundation issues. Some of the more common foundation problems include foundation settling, caused by soil shrinkage, compaction, and settlement under constant exposure to water, bowed-in foundation walls, caused by hydrostatic pressure, or uneven concrete floorings and house structures. Foundation heave can also cause cracks to form inside and outside your house. 

In more extreme cases, foundation heave can cause leaking in your crawl space and even your basement. This typically occurs when foundation heave is present with the other previously mentioned foundation problems. Water being introduced into other areas of your home can, therefore, open a whole avenue of other issues outside your foundation, which can be very costly and time-consuming to repair. 

Lifestyle Issues 

Foundation heave that is left unchecked not only alters the integrity of your soil and your home, but it can also affect your daily life as well. Since foundation heave can pose a tripping hazard, it can make your landscape difficult to walk across and even be problematic for your cars if the foundation heave has altered your driveway. Furthermore, it can also disrupt your landscape aesthetics because it can look incredibly unsightly, as it makes concrete slabs uneven and ridden with water. 

The damage it can cause to your home, such as cracks and misaligned doorways and window frames, can change your living space environment as well. Cracks in your walls, doors and windows that do not close properly can introduce and host a multitude of pests inside your home. It can also affect the temperatures within your home since even these tiny openings allow some of the outside air to waft inside. Since Alabama and Tennessee experience both cold and hot temperatures at separate times of the year, this can cause your electricity bills to skyrocket as you try to maintain a comfortable temperature inside. 

Unless your house was installed with push piers from the moment it was built, foundation settling is inevitable. This is because no matter how much you try to stop it, soil will become displaced. External factors like soil quality and weather are what determine soil displacement, so there isn’t much homeowners can do. However, there are certain changes you can make to make sure the soil degradation process is as slow as possible.  

Outdoor Prevention 

Outdoors, you should talk to a landscaping expert to determine the grade of your yard. A negative grade means that water flows toward your foundation whenever it rains. If needed, you can regrade your lawn so that water drains away from your home. Downspouts should be extended so that they drain water as far from your home as possible and no water gets the chance of saturating the soil. 

During the rainiest time of year, make sure to continuously check your drainage systems for any debris. You don’t want water flowing down the side of your home because of clogged gutters. During the winter, shovel the snow out of your yard as often as you can, especially during the beginning and end of winter, when the temperature isn’t cold enough to keep snow from melting. You don’t want any water from the melted snow seeping into your soil. 

Indoor Prevention  

Indoors, you need to set up a proper drainage system for your foundation. This means installing an interior drain system and a sump pump if you don’t already have one. Keeping your foundation dry is just as important as keeping the soil outside dry as well. Water is an erosive element that can damage the materials your foundation is made of. The more cracks and breakage in a foundation, the faster it will settle. 

Consider getting a second sump pump, especially if you live in Alabama. Sump pumps get overworked during rainy seasons and often malfunction as a result. A second sump pump will guarantee that your foundation stays as dry as possible no matter how severe the weather is. 

Advanced settling causes certain structural issues around the home, not just in the foundation itself. If the settling gets severe, you’ll be paying for more than just foundation repairs. To avoid the damage and the extra repair costs, familiarize yourself with the problem signs. The moment you notice the settling, you can contact your local foundation experts to stop the settling completely. 

Indoor Signs 

You’ll want to start in your basement since the signs will be most severe closest to the foundation. Check for cracks along the floor and the walls, as well for any spots where leaking is common. Use a level ruler to measure the evenness of the space, and if there is any uneven area despite the smoothness of the surface, there’s likely some settling. 

In the upper portions of your home, look for cracks along the ceiling and the walls. If you have jammed doors or windows, that’s another clear sign of settling since the tilting house is warping the frame. Walk around the house and see if you can feel any areas where the floor is uneven. If you can’t feel anything, use a level ruler too, as it’s possible that the damage isn’t severe enough to cause sagging floors, only slight unevenness. 

Outdoor Signs  

Again, you can start looking for signs from top to bottom outside as well. Check along the bottom of the home for any cracks. All concrete displays hairline cracks after a few years, but if the cracks are plentiful and wide, it indicates a problem. One of the clearest signs of settling is stair-step cracking along the mortar. If the crack is wider at the top than it is at the bottom, the settling is advanced. 

Observe your chimney to see if it’s tilting. The good thing about chimneys is that because of their height, it’s easy to spot unevenness. Look at the chimney from multiple angles and search for cracks. If your front porch has handrails, unevenness there also indicates settling. If you aren’t sure about the signs you are seeing, contact a local foundation expert for a professional assessment. 

Some homeowners that have a lot of foundation issues may consider completely replacing their foundation. While this may certainly repair foundation problems, such as foundation heave, fully replacing your foundation does not properly address the issue. Repairs, especially those offered by AFS Repair, can fix your foundation problems at the root cause so that it does not happen again in the future. 

Costs of Foundation Replacement 

Replacing your entire foundation has a lot of hidden costs. Not only do contractors have to uproot and replace all your concrete, but they must put temporary support posts in place in order to support your home as they work on your foundation. Foundation replacement also requires that the soil be entirely replaced as well. Furthermore, even when your foundation is completely replaced, this does not guarantee that the issues will not come back because replacement does not address the source of the problem. 

This can be quite a lengthy and costly process. There are a lot of components to consider, such as foundation demolition, concrete pouring, soil replacement, and lifting your home with temporary support jacks. Even the most trained contractors require a lot of time to complete a big job like this. It also requires a substantial number of tools and protective equipment to accomplish. 

Benefits of Foundation Repair 

Many of the foundation repair options that are offered by AFS Repair, fortunately, face the root cause of your foundation issues and resolve them. This makes for a much longer-lasting solution, which is more cost-effective overall. Some of these options include the: 

While it seems like there are many options to choose from, remember that the option you select depends on the issue you wish to address. You may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of solutions. However, do not worry. The expert contractors at AFS Repair will help you to select which one works best to repair your foundation. 

Why is Foundation Repair Needed?

Whether it’s a hairline crack in your wall or a sticking window in the summer, foundation problems should never be ignored, no matter how small. These issues can manifest themselves into full-scale structural damage and can result in thousands of dollars in repairs. Having a damaged foundation can also result in higher energy bills and aid in a harmful living environment. 

installed wall anchors diagram

Enhances Structural Integrity and Safety

When your home’s structure becomes damaged, it can be nerve-racking for anyone living under its roof. Problem signs such as uneven floors or cracks in your walls can be the first indicators of a snowball effect waiting to happen. By ignoring these subtle signs at first, you could be heading towards complete foundation failure. Prevent this from happening by calling the team at AFS for a full inspection of your home’s interior and exterior. Our proven, and trusted solutions can get your home back on track to structural safety.

home for sale

Improves Real Estate Value

Ensuring your home is structurally sound and safe before you decide to list it is not only an important thing to do, but also you could increase its resale value. While there are many people in the market looking for a fixer-upper, most are expecting their new home to be free of problems. When your foundation is damaged it can reduce your home’s value by up to 30 percent. It’s important to ensure your foundation is structurally sound before listing it on the market.

mold behind corner in a basement

Protects Against Mold Growth

To some, mold may seem like a common occurrence in a home, and one that isn’t a pressing issue. Mold and mildew growth can also pale in comparison when dealing with other issues such as flooding, structural damage, or other home repairs. Nonetheless, mold formation in your house is a serious issue that can impact your home and your health in many unexpected ways. Thankfully, mold is relatively easy to deal with on its own by a mold removal professional. Of course, it would be far preferable to prevent mold from forming in the first place by ensuring your foundation is repaired and free from cracks or water damage.

Common Foundation Repair Tips & Mistakes

Helpful Tips for Foundation Repair 

  • Although unseen, certain trees have root systems that can be invasive and cause serious structural damage to your home. As they spread in their search for water, they can break through the concrete walls of your foundation and cause cracks to form. If you want to protect your home from tree roots, research which species are minimally invasive and make sure to plant them far away enough from your home. This will guarantee your home stays safe from tree-related damage.
  • You may not always realize it, but the grade of your yard plays a role in determining how much water your foundation experiences. If your landscape has a negative grade, anytime it rains, the water will pool around the perimeter of your home. If your home has a positive grade, the water will flow away. Be sure to contact a landscape specialist if you are unsure of your yard’s grade.
  • By regularly cleaning your gutters, you can avoid any clogs or blockages that could lead to water overflowing and pooling around your foundation. Inspecting your gutters for damage can also help ensure that they’re in proper working order.

Mistakes to Avoid A Failing Foundation 

  • Did you know that foundation damage can lead to higher energy bills? By having cracks along your foundation, it can let moisture in which leads to your HVAC systems having to work harder. If you seal up the source of moisture and make necessary repairs, you can have more control over your temperature. When there’s less work for your HVAC systems to do, your energy bill will remain consistent and lower.
  • If your foundation or basement is experiencing moisture, it’s likely that you have mold growing somewhere in your home. All that mold needs to thrive is a dark and damp environment, from there it will find any organic matter in your home to feed from. This can lead to respiratory issues such as asthma or allergies, especially if the strain of mold is black mold. By repairing your foundation, you can prevent mold from growing and spreading throughout your home.
  • If your downspouts are placed too close to your home, chances are water will be able to seep down to your foundation and cause damage. By extending your downspouts at least 8 ft. away from the perimeter of your home, you can decrease the likelihood of this happening.

Find your service area

Huntsville, AL

Huntsville, AL

Water and humidity in your home can lead to structural and health issues that impact your family’s safety. AFS has the best permanent solutions tailored to your Huntsville home’s exact repair and protection needs.

Mobile, AL

Mobile, AL

A damaged crawl space and basement are common in Mobile, AL., but it doesn’t have to be that way. AFS has proven solutions to stop moisture in its tracks and restore your home's original stability.

Columbus, GA

Columbus, GA

Columbus’ clay soil and frequent rainfall create a difficult environment for your foundation. Over time, these weather and soil conditions will cause foundation damage, and AFS has the tools to repair your home for good.

Chattanooga, TN

Chattanooga, TN

Chattanooga has sandy, silty soil and a rainy climate that can cause damage to your home's concrete and foundation, as well as the basement and crawl space.

Nashville, TN

Nashville, TN

Nashville is a popular place to live for its musical culture, but the area’s springtime storms and crumbly soil cause problems for your foundation and concrete. However, AFS has years of experience keeping Nashville homes protected from these issues.

Birmingham, AL

Birmingham, AL

Rainwater and humid, muggy air can have a big impact on the foundation of your family's home. The professionals at AFS have solutions to repair even the toughest crawl space, foundation, or concrete problems.

Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, TN

Knoxville’s clay soil and frequent precipitation don’t make a good match for your foundation. Together, these conditions cause heavy damage to your foundation and your home’s structure. AFS has solutions that prevent damage for good.

Pensacola, FL

Pensacola, FL

Moisture and foundation damage negatively impact Pensacola homes, but AFS offers a wealth of expertise and award-winning services and solutions to improve the health, safety, value, and appearance of your home.

Bowling Green, KY

Bowling Green, KY

High precipitation in Bowling Green puts your foundation at risk for damage, which causes tons of problem signs around your home. But AFS has industry-leading solutions and expertise that keep your home protected.

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