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THE MYTHS OF FOUNDATION REPAIR

In the years since iFix came to be we have encountered certain beliefs or misconceptions about foundation repair. These, we’ve come to realize, have become generalized myths among homeowners as it is quite often that we get asked the same questions. Now some other blogs have posts about foundation repair myths, but with just a small glimpse you can see that they all talk about the same five or six myths. And that’s fine. But today we’ll go beyond that and talk about the myths that we have personally encountered out there in the field and that are seldom talked about.




What is the best season to repair the foundation?

This is a question that we’ve had to answer quite often. This generally takes place when we go and make the inspections necessary for foundation repair. Is it the rain season? Is it the dry season? Well the truth is that there is no such thing as a best or most optimal season for foundation repair to take place. Now, the general misconception comes from other foundation companies, which in hopes of getting the job, tell the homeowners that the season they are currently in is the best for the repair, so they should hurry to make the decision as they are still in time. But the truth is the foundation can be repaired pretty much in any season, and the result will be just as good regardless. The closest to an actual truth to this myth is that the best time to repair the foundation is now. Or a soon as possible anyway, given that foundation damage is quite a serious matter that will only keep on getting worse as time goes by.


For Slab on Grade foundations, once the foundation has been repaired, does it have to sit right on top of the soil once again?

No. We understand that, as a homeowner, if you were to climb down the tunnels after the house has been leveled you would see a big gap in between the soil and the actual house (as you can see in the picture a few paragraphs ago), and that would naturally worry you. But you have to remember, the house was sinking into the soil and with the foundation repair it has now been leveled back up. The weight of the house rests on top of the beams, and the beams are now supported by the piers which are being supported themselves by the bedrock deep within the soil. Naturally as it has been leveled there will now be a gap in between. Think of pier and beam foundations. The house is being held in place by the beams and supported by the piers with a big gap or crawlspace underneath. Or even those jaw-dropping overpasses all over our freeways. Same physics at work. So this gap is completely natural and safe.


Is one type of pier better than the other?

We’ve been asked which is better: steel piers or concrete piers. And the truth is one is as good as the other; they both will get the work done. The reason why we sometimes use one type of pier or the other simply has to do with the conditions and the needs of each individual foundation. We won’t know which one we will have to use until we explore the house during our initial visit. This will be determined by our findings, conditions and necessities of the house and foundation. Rest assured that we will let you know exactly which type of pier is optimal for your house and foundation.


Are pier and beam foundations easier to repair?

At a first glance it is understandable that one might think that pier and beam foundations are easier to repair. I mean, there is a crawlspace that is quite easily accesible from all sides of the house; from there one can work to repair the foundation, the plumbing, electricity and pretty much anything else that might need repairs. No need to dig for days and crawl into the tunnels beneath the house, right? Well the truth is it’s not easier to repair. While the labor of digging the tunnels is definitely hard, once down there it actually is far easier to work around than under a crawlspace, which is so much more reduced, barely giving us any space to maneuver. Not to mention that the tunnels are an incredibly cleaner place to crawl about that an actual crawlspace which might be filled with mold, pests, insects, rotting, dead animals and the like, but that is neither here nor there, however.


Alongside this myth there is the idea that pier and beam foundations are cheaper to fix. Probably related to the fact that, judging on a simple eyesight basis, a lot more work goes into fixing a concrete foundation. But as a matter of fact this is completely dependent on the conditions of the home, and honestly most of the time, given their age, pier and beam houses are in a much, much worse state than slab on grade homes. With pier and beam the wood grows old, it rots, insects feed on it, it bends. So it needs to be replaced, which means that we literally have to pull the foundation apart, replace it with new materials and put it back together again. Only when it is a very big operation, slab on grade foundation repair might be more costly.


This leads us into a third, directly related myth. That foundation repair is quite costly. And while it obviously costs money, the prices are not unreasonable as one might think. Given the amount of work and materials it takes and given that it is a far better and more economic alternative than replacing an entire foundation or moving to a new home, sometimes people are surprised that the actual prices are not as high as they had feared.


In general (and again, the final amount is calculated on a case by case basis) an average repair for slab on grade foundation is around 8,000 dollars, while the average for pier and beam is around 15,000 to 18,000. Then again these prices might go up if a more extensive than average repair is required.


Once the foundation is repaired the cracks will no longer reappear.

This is not accurate. Cracks might keep on happening and that is due to our walls being made out of wood. With the frame being made out of the same material, this can have the same sort of problems as a wooden foundation. Moisture changes in the weather cause the wood to change and shift. Also, pressure and weight bend wood out of shape. If a long time elapsed before the foundation was repaired then wood might not go back to its original shape without further breaking or cracking once the foundation is repaired. It is just like a bookshelf that bends overtime.


Also there are times when leveling the foundation back into place may cause further cracks; they might been caused by the slight movement, or by the same frame or walls which are now bent out of shape. This is completely natural and we’ve previously talked about it in detail.


If the foundation is sinking, mudjacking will solve it.

Do not, and we repeat, do not fall for this. On more than one occasion we’ve heard, while doing the initial assessments, that the homeowners have been adviced that they could either choose to repair the foundation or, as an alternative, go with mudjacking. Now, mudjacking is a concrete leveling method that pumps mud under a building in order to lift it back into place. Now you might be saying ‘that actually makes sense; if the foundation is sinking mudjacking it will lift it back to its original level’. Well, it will lift it back, that is right. But as we mentioned earlier this is a leveling method. It will temporarily fix the symptoms but it is not the solution. Doing this will not fix the foundation. Remember we talked about Texan soil; the high plasticity soil, which expands and contracts due to weather and moisture, causes shifts in the foundation which eventually lead to it failing. If you pour mud beneath your home, sure, it will lift it back up, but in the end this new added layer still sits on top of the same soil, and eventually it will just sink once more. The foundation will still be in need of repair, the signs and symptoms will be back, and given the time that was wasted, it might even be more costly to fix it. Not to mention the money already wasted in mudjacking. The worst part of it is that those companies know this and outright lie just in order to make a quick buck, taking advantage out of your necessity. Well, either that or they are completely incompetent, so we’ll leave it at that.


Cracks can help identify foundation problems.

This is another myth that we encounter frequently. And even tho we are always talking about cracks and how they might be a telltale sign that there are foundation problems, it does not mean that every single crack is a sign of damage in your foundation. Sometimes yes, they are the direct result of foundation damages, other times it just may be that the home was settling or that maybe the soil directly underneath was a little soft. So, yes, pay attention to cracks, but don’t panic. Look for some other signs (which we have also talked about) that in conjunction might point to foundation damage.


Foundation repair is a Do it Yourself project, or at least parts of it are.

How to put this as delicately as possible? No! It is a resounding no. Saving money is the main reason some homeowners undertake such a foolhardy endeavour. Not only is it complex, but also dangerous and it requires proper training and proper tools in order to carry it out. Remember that at worst you might cause yourself great harm, not to mention further damaging the foundation, which in the end will make it all even more expensive. In a very best case scenario, you just wasted time, effort, materials and the foundation is still in need of fixing.


Remember that only a professional foundation repair company can carry out the inspection, diagnosis and provide the best solutions to your foundations based on your home’s specific needs.


Going back to cracks and DIY you might have noticed that a while back we made a post about repairing wall cracks. Before you point fingers, let us remind you that we were very specific about which cracks you could repair, telling you how you can identify which ones are sign of foundation damage, which ones are not and which ones you could actually repair yourself, and showing you how to do it. Remember that cracks wider than 25mm should absolutely be inspected by an expert, however cracks that aren’t wider than a hairline you can go about repairing them, following the steps that we previously provided.


Filling a crack wider than a hairline with caulk or other untested material might make matters worse as water stress could make the material falter and expand the crack instead!


Foundation repair will fix absolutely everything.

No. And this is something we are quite adamant about the homeowners understanding even before we start working. When we fix your foundation you can rest assured that it is a job well done (and with a real lifetime warranty at that). But sequels are sometimes unavoidable. You have to understand that sometimes lifting a house back to level can cause side effects like plumbing issues, cracks, uneven frames or buckling shingles. This can specially be true if the foundation had been damaged for a while before being repaired, as overtime this could’ve caused a deformation of the materials/framing that will not go back to their original shapes when the house is lifted back into place.


Finding a foundation repair company is a piece of cake.

This might come from the fact that are are many foundation repair companies around, however the most important thing is not how many options are available but which options are actually the ones that will solve your problems as efficiently and  cost-savingly as possible, while also offering real warranties. So, doing research and asking for referrals will make your life a whole lot easier. Ask friends, family members and acquaintances about their previous experiences with foundation repair companies. I mean, it is not that we want to brag or anything, but around 90% of our costumers have come to us given the good referrals that we’ve received! Talk about client satisfaction!


Gutters and watering will prevent foundation problems.

Not entirely accurate. Having these services installed will definitely help and make a difference, however there is no way to actually and definitely prevent foundation problems. These services will help minimize and delay the damage and are definitely good maintenance practices so they do come in handy.


All homes will eventually need foundation repair.

Not really. Statistically it will happen to a lot of homes, specially in a state with high plasticity soil, but it is not an absolute.


Foundation damage is exclusive to old homes.

No, it s not. All homes are susceptible to foundation settlement and damage. This is because there are many factors into play here. Weather, drainage, slopes, soil, all of these factor in. All homes are susceptible to natural forces and while some newer houses might have foundation damage in little time after being built, some others have survived for decades without problems, so age is definitely not the primary factor here.


Foundation repair is gonna be hellish for homeowners.

While it will certainly pose some inconveniences for the family, most foundation repairs are completed outside the home. Most of the work is exterior. Yes, this means driveways and yards will have piles of dirt, but that should be about it. What is essential for a foundation repair job to go smoothly has more to do with choosing the right company for the job. One that gets the job done, and that does so efficiently, with good manners, responsibility and great communication of expectations during and after the process. Not to mention that at iFix we pride ourselves in not only repairing the foundation to your full satisfaction, but also of leaving your home as aesthetically pleasing as we found it, if not even better


Foundation repair is temporary.

Done correctly it is a long lasting solution. Proven techniques and high quality materials are necessary to ensure stability and durability. A proper foundation repair should last decades. 


And let us reiterate once more that we are the only foundation repair that provides a real lifetime and transferrable warranty! That should tell you something about how confident we are in our work. So if you want the best foundation repair job we are not even going to ask you to call us, we want you to ask for references about us. And then you’ll be convinced that we are the very best at what we do.

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