Mechanical strain gauge installed to measure the growth of foundation cracks
The cracks that you find in your foundation can be from quite a few culprits. One of the more popular culprits comes from the moisture surrounding your foundation. The moisture can soften the dirt and soil around your foundation which then puts more pressure on the walls and supports which applies additional stress on your foundation footing, helical piers & even your floors.
You can have the soil surrounding your foundation graded (there are currently 3 different grades - weak, moderate & strong) you also want to check around your foundation to see how your sub-surface water is drained. Do you have french pipes that channel water away from your foundation, or do you have a poor draining system that drains into the soil surrounding your foundation? The lower the grade of soil you have, the higher the chance you will have foundation problems in the future. Drainage and waterproofing are essential part keeping your foundation healthy.
If your foundation is tipped, bowed, or very badly cracked, you will require substantial reinforcement to prevent further damage to the support and structure of your home. Your walls will need to be reinforced with wood, steel braces or carbon fiber mesh. Based on the severity, you home may also require wall anchors as part of the foundation wall repair. The carbon fiber mesh option is also a popular less expensive option in which you spread epoxy in vertical strips then press the carbon fiber mesh to lock the walls in place. If the fix can't be solved from the inside, it becomes a lot more expensive if you need to excavate part of the foundation in an effort to rebuild foundation, it can cost upwards of $30,000 dollars.
If you ever deal with a broken water pipe, plugged gutter, draining problems or a flooded yard, the water can effect the stability of your foundation. In this case, it may be best to get a foundation professional or contractor out to your property to look at the area surrounding your foundation. They may recommend that you add additional concrete or shim the sill plate to make the area level again. In extreme measures, you may be required to tear out a section of the foundation, so that new foundation can be added with rebar and epoxy.
It is so very important to make an effort to safeguard your foundation. The proper precautions take just a few minutes every month and can lead to the difference between a healthy support system for the roof over your head. Without routine checks, you may end up paying thousands of dollars to fix your foundation!