Owning a home is great. It provides a stable living environment that is completely customizable to a family’s needs and it allows the homeowner to accrue equity in the home instead of paying rent.
If there is a downside, it is the fact that maintenance and repair costs are now the owner’s responsibility – no more just making a call to Maintenance. Consequently, most homeowners are interested and occasionally concerned with the cost of a repair project before committing to it, especially when the problem – and its fix – is significant.
Repairing a foundation, especially when the damage is structural, is about as significant as it gets so it’s not uncommon for the first question from a homeowner who needs foundation repair to be “How much does it cost?”
There are two types of foundation damage and, therefore, two types of foundation repair: structural and non-structural. Non-structural damage typically leads to water seepage but does not threaten the integrity of the foundation. Structural damage is more serious and can cause the foundation and the building it supports to shift, drop and crack.
The most common form of nonstructural foundation damage is a crack in a poured concrete foundation wall. These cracks typically occur when oversaturated soil around the foundation creates pressure and causes the wall to move and crack. These cracks tend to be narrow, less than 1/8”, and are common sources of seepage.
Similarly, masonry walls can suffer cracks in mortar joints from the same type of pressure. This also results in seepage but does not compromise the foundation.
Repairing a non-structural crack in a poured concrete wall is a relatively simple and inexpensive process – the crack is injected with expanding polyurethane to seal it and keep water out. In the Chicago area the cost of repairing a single crack is around $550-600 and is typically discounted when more than one crack is fixed.
Cracks in mortar joints require a more substantial repair, installing an exterior waterproofing membrane. Doing so involves excavating along the foundation wall, applying a thick coat of asphalt-modified polyurethane and covering it with insulating material and/or drainage board before backfilling.
Primarily because of the labor-intensive nature of the job, the price tag for this repair will be in the thousands, depending on the size of the affected wall.
Structural damage is a much bigger problem because the stability of the home depends on repairing it promptly and permanently.
The most common types of structural damage are concrete walls that tip inward or masonry walls that bow or bulge. Depending on the severity of the damage, these walls can be stabilized by either carbon fiber strips or steel channels. Carbon fiber is the less costly of the two repairs (a good reason to make repairs quickly) and consists of applying the incredibly strong strips to damaged walls with industrial epoxy to prevent further movement.
If walls have moved more than 2 inches, low-profile steel channels will be needed to return stability to the wall. These channels are bolted to the foundation footings and floor joist above, and then tensioned to conform to the wall.
For a lightly-damaged 30-foot foundation wall, a carbon fiber repair may cost as little as $8,000 whereas a major repair job with steel may cost three times that due to the higher cost of materials and the installation being more complicated and labor-intensive.
The worst type of structural foundation damage is when a foundation drops or sinks because the soil supporting has shrunk due to desiccation. This occurs most often during a drought when trees and large shrubs send their root systems deeper and wider than normal in search of water and draw moisture from previously undisturbed soil under the foundation.
Repairing a dropped or sunken foundation is a major undertaking – the foundation must be raised back to level and permanently stabilized there. This is done by installing hydraulic push piers under the foundation and raising it to its original level. The number and position of piers is determined by applying engineering and soil data.
Every foundation in this condition is different but a good estimate is to figure a cost of $1800 - $2200 per pier.
No matter the cost of a foundation repair, whether a few hundred or several thousand dollars, a homeowner with a damaged foundation will need the advice and services of either a basement waterproofing contractor or a specialist in foundation repair. At U.S. Waterproofing, our foundation repair experts employ engineering data to recommend the latest and most cost-effective techniques and homeowners all over the Chicago area now enjoy stable homes as a result. Why not ask for our free advice?
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