Basement Foundation Repair Basics

water damage

A basement foundation repair can be easy if you are equipped with basic information about handling such repairs. The foundation of a house is in direct contact with the underlying layer of rocks, soil, and underground vegetation. The basement foundation is designed to transfer a substantial load of the entire building over this underlying layer. Damaged basements compromise the structural integrity of the entire house. The most common cause of basement damage is excessive moisture seepage, followed by soil shrinkage.

Basement Repair Basics

There are various methods of repairing the foundation. Some require professional assistance and they are recommended only if there is some serious damage to the basement. For general maintenance of your basement foundation, you can use either of these two methods:

Mortar application

Patching repairs

Note that identifying hard-to-distinguish cracks in the foundation is critical before deciding which of the above-mentioned methods should be used.

Identifying Basement Repairs

Some common indications that suggest you should consider basement repairs include:

Uneven floors (indicated by water collection in some spots)

Diagonal cracks at corners of main entry/exit doors

Doors not opening/closing properly

The most common type of foundation maintenance issue is settlement cracks. These vertical cracks are often found on two adjacent walls. Most settlement cracks are associated with older basements. These cracks are attributed to subtle changes in the soil/rock layer below the basement which create stress on the main walls of the house. Shallow foundations are most vulnerable to settlement cracks.

Cleaning Cracks

After identifying the cracks in the foundation, comprehensively clean them. Cleaning is necessary for two reasons. First, for any type of repair, the adhesive material needs a clean, debris-free surface to bind properly. Second, cleaning the crack establishes the type of repair that will be needed. Use a chisel or a painting brush to remove the loose fragments. Inspect the crack to establish an appropriate repair method in in one of the following manners.

Basic, Mortar-based, Dry Basement Repairs

This method is recommended when the cracks have just begun to show and there is negligible damage due to moisture seepage. The basic material used for such repairs is easily available.

You can use either hydraulic cement or Portland mortar. These materials come with easy-to-follow, packaged instructions. The mortar/cement should be mixed with sand and water according to the instructions. The prepared mixture settles and dries quickly, making the entire process undemanding.

This method is also used for resolving any visible unevenness that along the basement floor. Such unevenness is often caused by subtle swelling in some parts of the foundation, creating minor, depression-like spots. The mortar mix is perfect for such repairs once the surface has been cleaned and smoothened.

Patching/Filling-type, Wet Basement Repairs

Standing water is a common problem in basements that have low-density soil beneath them, or leaky plumbing in the surrounding area. The resulting moisture seepage can extend beyond the basement, causing cracks in the drywall.

The most effective solution for dealing with such problems is patching the leaky spots. This is a slightly demanding job, but it can be easily completed by taking care of some application issues.

Since the surface of such cracks is bound to be wet, small layers of the applied mortar keeping peeling-off. Pack-in more mortar with each application, using a pointed trowel. Remove the excess mortar before applying the next layer.

These two steps must be repeated every few minutes before you can be sure that the mortar isn't peeling-away. If the moisture seepage is beyond simple patching, use urethane or epoxy-based injectable concrete mixtures. They are available in the form of handy, easy-to-use kits. These polymer-based adhesive materials are resistant against extreme water penetration.

Post-repair Precautions

Check your repair-work after several days. Any hanging mortar should be removed. Smooth the surface of the dried mortar with some water and level it with a trowel. To ensure that repeated foundation repairs are not needed, follow some basic precautions.

Ensure that the ground water is directed away from the foundation. All downspouts should be maneuvered away from the basement, ensuring that water discharge is at least four feet away from the basement area.

Do not grow plants that are known to have dense, deep-growing roots near the basement. Such roots can make their way to the soil under the foundation, creating excessive stress on the basement.