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December 2018

How to Fix Foundation Cracks

brick foundation wall crack

If you were asked what part of your home is the most important structure, what would your answer be? Many homeowners would say it is their home’s foundation.

The foundation of a home isn’t glamorous. It doesn’t get any attention at open houses or holiday parties. No one decorates it with lights or gushes to friends and neighbours about how awesome it looks.

But we sure do notice when it starts to crack, bow, sag, slope or leak! This is also typically when our phone starts ringing here at Omni Basement Systems.

Discovering a foundation repair need is stressful from a time, cost and resale value level. In this timely post, we take you on a quick tour of your home’s foundation, talking about how structural issues such as cracks, leaks and shifting can develop and then outlining our recommended solutions.

What Causes Foundation Problems

Foundation troubles are an incredibly common issue many homeowners are facing today. This especially holds true for owners of older homes.

The unpleasant truth is that no foundation will last indefinitely. As with sump pumps, HVAC systems and other essential home structures that work constantly, foundations are also likely to face leaks, cracks, degradation and other issues over time.

However, aside from simple old age, there are also other known issues that can cause your foundation to start to crack even if it is still well within the boundaries of its useful life. Here are examples of some of the most common issues we encounter:

Compromised crawl spaces

Crawl spaces, as their name suggests, provide access points to important interior home structures. They are also useful to provide extra ventilation underneath and around your home to guard against the growth of mould and mildew.

Over time, the crawl spaces themselves can begin to sag, tilt, slope or sink for a variety of reasons. This can then cause a ripple effect that leads to foundation cracks and other issues at higher levels.

Settling

It is natural for a home’s foundation to begin to settle as the years pass. However, when this settling process happens unevenly, it can cause sufficient pressure that the foundation itself begins to sag and/or crack.

Saturated soil

What is happening with the soil that surrounds your home’s foundation will always impact your foundation in some way. Moisture-saturated soil can in time place pressure on the foundation and basement walls causing structural issues.

Warning Signs of Foundation Repair Issues

How do you know when your foundation has developed an issue? Figuring out when your foundation needs extra attention can feel like a particularly challenging game of hide and seek as you look for the telltale signs of foundation disrepair.

Cracks

No foundation is free from cracks. Just the process of laying the foundation, drying and curing it can cause small cracks to form.

However, not all cracks appear conveniently in highly visible locations where you can point right to them when your service technician arrives for a diagnostic check. Sometimes cracks are hidden away under cosmetic flooring or even appear only on the outside.

It is also important to look up and out—at times, cracks caused by foundation settling or shifting will actually begin at the top of the home and work their way down toward the foundation.

Bulging, bowing, sagging, sinking or sloping

When walls or floors start bowing, sagging, bulging or sinking, this can be another warning sign the foundation needs attention. This is especially the case if walls start bowing inward (from the pressure of moisture-saturated soil outside) or if there is movement in the lowest floor in your home.

Floors that seem to slope downward toward one side of the home can be another signal from your foundation that something is wrong.

Windows and/or doors don’t fit in their frames

Whether the issue is that doors or windows no longer close easily or they won’t stay closed at all but swing right back open after you shut them, the foundation may be at least partly or fully to blame.

Moisture appears

Whether you are seeing white powdery residue, black or brown powder, greenish slime, rusty discolouration, dark patches or some other unusual colour changes, these changes may indicate the foundation has developed leaks that are seeping through to affect your interior.

Mystery odours

Issues like mould and mildew can be tough to spot, but their odour often gives their presence away. Dank, damp, grassy or simply malodorous—some liken the smell of a growing mould colony to a pile of sweaty socks—new unpleasant scents are another potential warning sign of foundation repair needs.

How to Fix Foundation Cracks

Once your foundation becomes compromised through leaks, cracks, mould or mildew, moisture and other causes, it isn’t going to fix itself over time. Whatever foundation issues have arisen are likely to worsen the longer you wait to tackle the repairs.

Here are some of the foundation solutions we frequently recommend for repairing a compromised foundation:

Wall anchors

These handy anchors reinforce existing walls against exterior pressure from surrounding soil.

Interior wall braces

Interior wall braces are an alternative to wall anchors that may work better in certain circumstances.

Wall reinforcing straps

This fix is designed to prevent further foundation damage in the future by stabilizing your existing walls with carbon fiber straps.

Piers

We use two types of piers: slab piers and foundation piers. Both kinds of piers provide reinforcing stabilization in different ways from deep below your home.

Jacks

Crawl space jacks can lend extra support to the beams of your crawl spaces to help stabilize sagging, sloping or bowed floors.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect foundation issues!

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How to Fix a Leaky Basement

leaky basement rubber boots in water

Basement leaks are among the most common structural issues homeowners can face. In a way, this makes intuitive sense, given that the basement is the lowest point within the structure of the home.

But this doesn't make it any less distressing when you discover your basement has sprung a leak! You can't seem to figure out where the water is coming from. You want to stop it ASAP. You need to figure out who to call and how you are going to pay for this unexpected home repair.

In this timely post, we walk you through the basics of how water gets into your basement and how to fix the issue.

How Water Gets Into Your Basement

Figuring out how to fix a leaky basement begins with understanding how moisture gets into your basement in the first place.

This can be a lot harder than it sounds: often, water is entering from a place hidden behind walls, floors or ceilings, and you can't see the source of the leak. This is frustrating because if you can't find the source of the leak, you can't stop it.

Here are some of the most common routes water takes to enter your basement:

Pipes

Leaking pipes can be particularly challenging to diagnose since most home piping is located in truly inaccessible areas. But leaking pipes are also some of the most common culprits of water leaks in the basement. Canada's extreme winter weather is notorious for causing frozen pipes, which can also lead to more serious cracks and water leaks.

Cracks

If your home is older, it is quite normal that seals around windows and doors degrade or crack over time. These cracks might be quite tiny, but they can still allow moisture to seep into your basement space.

Sump pump

An older sump pump that is being asked to pull double duty moving excess water outside your basement may in time begin to fall down on the job. This may indicate your sump pump has reached the end of its useful life. But if you inherited the sump pump along with your home purchase and you don't have its maintenance records, you may just need to schedule routine cleaning and a tune-up to get your sump pump working again.

Foundation

The soil around your home's foundation can collect quite a bit of moisture after heavy rainfall. This typically isn't a major source of concern so long as your home's drainage structures are properly placed and functioning. A number of factors can cause drainage issues, from clogged gutters and blocked downspouts to inadequate (or missing) slope.

Humidity

One particularly stealthy source of basement water is condensation that forms due to overly high humidity levels. Basements, like attics and crawl spaces, can be more vulnerable to seasonal humidity shifts.

Warning Signs of Basement Leaks

Aside from the obvious warning sign—standing water in your basement—you can keep an eye out for these additional key warning signs that your basement has a leak somewhere.

Odour

Dank, grassy, damp, sweaty, stale: these are just some of the terms used to describe the telltale odour produced by mildew and mould as it grows.

White powdery deposits

These deposits are called "efflorescence" and are caused when water seeps in and evaporates, leaving behind mineral deposits.

Discolouration

Rusty or brown stains, darker patches and greenish or black areas on floors or walls are all potential signs of water damage due to basement leaks.

Sump pump never shuts off

A continuously running sump pump can indicate a constant effort to move water out of your basement space.

Cracks or flaking

Cracks in walls or floors and flaking paint can indicate degradation caused by slow leaks and water seepage as well as condensation/humidity.

First Steps to Fix a Leaking Basement

It just makes sense that your first step in fixing a leaky basement is to accurately diagnose the source and extent of the leak(s). Typically this is a job for the pros: it can require a detailed knowledge of the "behind the scenes" of your home to know what to look for and how to access it.

Once the cause and scope are identified, it is time to solve the leak. In many instances, permanently resolving the leak requires combining more than one approach.

Common solutions to fix a leaking basement can include the following:

Crack repair

Crack repair and wall anchors can stop current leaks and shore up weak areas of your basement walls and flooring.

Back-up sump system

Many homeowners today are installing backup sump systems to support an aging or overtaxed primary sump pump.

Window and well drains

Aging, rusting window and well drains can let unwelcome water into your basement. Replacement is the most common fix.

Insulation

Installing the right type of insulation can go a long way toward guarding against mould, mildew, humidity and condensation collecting in your basement.

Downspout extensions

Extensions can enhance any existing home drainage system to be sure water does not pool around your home and seep into your basement.

Drainage system repair or replacement

Drainage systems are vulnerable to age-related wear and tear. Repairs or a full replacement when that time comes can guard against future basement leaks.

Basement waterproofing

Full basement waterproofing is one of our most popular and requested repair options because it is both a treatment and a permanent solution. To date, we have installed more than a thousand basement waterproofing systems.

Get in Touch

Do you need help protecting your home against leaks, cracks and damage? Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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