Faulty Foundation? Repairs Not Always an Option

Jason Hargraves
Written by Jason Hargraves
Updated June 15, 2021
Worker building a support wall
A worker for Xpert Foundations of Roanoke, Va., constructs a wall to support a failed foundation. (Photo courtesy of member Dale W. of Boones Mill, Va.)

Finding problems with your foundation early may save thousands of dollars and your house itself.

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Prince George’s County has been given a $2 million federal grant to buy and demolish several Maryland homes damaged in a recent landslide.

Earlier this spring, a Fort Washington landslide damaged properties, broke water lines and cracked streets. It left many residents with no place to live.

The money is a welcome relief to those affected.

Tracy Rookard was forced to evacuate her home after the hillside gave way back in May. After months of uncertainty, she tells Fox 5 News that she is relieved, and that this financial boost can help her move on.

Elected officials 'stepped up'

"I have not always appreciated our elected officials, but I'll tell you, they definitely stepped up to the plate here," she says.

Prince George's County also has set aside funds to stabilize the ground and make repairs to 22 other homes whose foundations can be saved.

Foundation damage varies and can be a result of a natural disaster, like in Fort Washington, improper installation by the builder or age. It’s smart to have a local foundation repair specialist evaluate your home and help you figure out the best course of action if you suspect problems.

Some foundation problems are cosmetic only and usually can be repaired by the home owner. Catching problems early can be crucial.

However, if the load-bearing capability of the foundation has been compromised, some options are available, if the problem is fixable.

Learn how your foundation was constructed

Repair techniques made to a sunken or damaged foundation depend on the type of the original foundation. In crawl spaces, a shoring-up method called a pier and beam repair is often used.

The beams of the crawl space are jacked to a higher position and shims or additional timbers are placed under the beam to hold the new position.

Installing some additional piers may be necessary to distribute the weight evenly.

The process of mudjacking — often called "slab jacking" or "pressure grouting" — is commonly used as a cost-effective way to level sunken or uneven concrete slabs, including sidewalks, patios and foundations.

If your home is built on a concrete slab then you may need the help of a mudjacking technician.

That person’s job is to first drills holes at various locations in the slab to allow access to the voided areas underneath. An expanding, quick-hardening solution is pumped into the hole, filling the void and hydraulically raising the sunken foundation to its original level.

The drilled holes are filled with cement, which seals in the mix.

Depending on the properties of the mudjacking mix, full use of the slab can be restored in a relatively short time.

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