If you think there may be a problem with your foundation, it’s essential to act immediately. Most foundation problems start small and easy to fix, but they may point to hidden conditions that must be corrected.
Ignoring a foundation issue can lead to some of the most expensive home repairs.
Foundation Problem Repair Costs
Every foundation is laid on a unique building site that presents a particular combination of grading, soil type, drainage, and local weather. Over time, the soil under a foundation (including the clay soils across much of North Texas) can expand by holding water or can shrink during dry spells. This swelling and sinking can cause cracks and other problems in your foundation and walls.
Most of the time, this soil settling becomes stable on its own, perhaps requiring only a cosmetic repair of a wall crack or a floor tile. However, in some cases, a soil movement or water drainage problem can worsen, leading to costly repairs or even unsafe conditions for you and your family.
In this article, we’ll review how much you might pay for common foundation repairs when an expert opinion is needed, and where to go for help.
What Does it Cost to Repair a Crack?
A crack in your slab, floor, or wall may be the first indication of a foundation problem. The crack may have been caused by normal settling of the soil, by a drainage problem or even by tree roots pushing against the foundation.
Whatever the cause, you now have two important objectives:
First, try to determine the probable cause of the crack so that you can take immediate action to correct the underlying issue. Don’t wait. If the cause is apparent, get rid of tree roots, fix gutters, or re-grade near the house to move water away. If the cause of the crack is not obvious, hire a foundation engineer to inspect.
Second, evaluate the crack itself. If it is wider than 1/8-inch, the root cause could be severe, and you should call for a professional inspection. If the crack is 1/8-inch or less, you may be able to repair it yourself, patching and repainting an interior plaster wall, replacing a floor tile, or filling an exterior foundation crack with waterproof concrete filler. These DIY repairs can be handled for $20 to $50, or if you would rather call a professional, the cost of material and labor should be under $300.
In any event, don’t try to wish the problem away. If a crack in your foundation or an exterior wall is left unfilled, it will hold moisture in the summer and ice in the winter, causing further deterioration.
What Does it Cost to Repair Water Damage?
If your lot is poorly drained or water is allowed to gather in pools near the house, your foundation can be damaged by prolonged exposure.
If you see water in your basement or if you feel the moisture in the plaster, your foundation is exposed to water damage. Other signs of potential damage include chalky deposits on interior walls or concrete flakes, which are loose and easily removed. Protecting a soaked foundation will require two lines of attack: one to keep water away from the house, and another to repair the damage already done.
When rainwater is falling from the roof and pooling near the foundation or in the crawlspace, use gutters and downspouts to move water away. The national average for installing new gutters on an average size home is about $1000. Improving water diversion from existing gutters may cost $100 or less, but will provide essential protection.
When you spot water pooling in plantings or elsewhere on your lawn, move water away by filling low spots with native soils of Texas clay, ditching, digging a French drain or surface drain system, or using other techniques that can cost $100 or less. Should you call in a landscape professional, effective grading or drainage jobs may cost $300 to $500.
Once water is prevented from gathering near the house, a foundation contractor may excavate around the slab or piers, improving drainage, repairing any cracks, and applying a waterproof sealant. Depending on the size of your home and the techniques used, total repair costs may vary from $2,000 to $8,000.
What Does it Cost to Level a Sinking Foundation?
When shrinking or swelling causes serious damage to walls, floors, and foundation, a foundation engineer may recommend various techniques for supporting or lifting the foundation to its original position.
Piering & Underpinning is the most costly repair solution, but it is also the most permanent. This type of repair involves digging under the slab to place piers and using hydraulic jacks to lift the foundation to correct the deflection. Each pier can cost $500 to $3,000, so an extensive repair may cost $6,000 to $15,000.
Three Rules for Avoiding Costly Foundation Repairs
- Stay alert for common warning signs. Minor cracks can be filled before they are allowed to get worse. Landscaping can be modified to keep water and roots away from the house. Drainage problems on your property can be corrected before they cause foundation damage.
- Monitor any previous signs of trouble. Is that crack in the slab the same or getting more prominent? Are the doors sticking? Are the exterior walls remaining level? Has there been any more moisture in the basement? When you probe the foundation, is the concrete firm, or is there any loose material?
- Call for backup. Should you spot signs of trouble or just aren’t sure — hire a foundation engineer to take a look. If they find nothing, that’s great. You can sleep soundly, and if you ever sell the house, you can show their report to your buyer. But if they do find trouble, you’ll get expert advice on how to repair the damage, and how to eliminate the cause.