Foremost, foundation repair is beyond the ability of most homeowners, due to the equipment and knowledge required. The foundation of a home supports the entire house, so the weights involved are extreme. The nature of the question presumes the foundation is no longer supporting the house, or at least some portion of it, so any repair may involve the need to otherwise support part of the house during the repair process.
The “how” of repairing a foundation will require some knowledge of “what” caused the failure. Foundations may fail as a result of any of the following occurrences:
- poor soil compaction during initial construction;
- loss of soil bearing capacity due to desiccation from a nearby large tree;
- heave from tree roots, or saturated expansive clay soil;
- plumbing issues, which may cause loss of soil bearing (washout) or heave (water leaking into the soil);
- loss of bearing capacity of supporting piles;
- deterioration of structural framing – in the case of raised pier-and-beam foundations.
The wide variety of causes for foundation failure ensure an equally wide variety of repair methods. Proper diagnosis of the cause is critical to success of the repair. Such repairs tend to be expensive and mistakes can easily cause additional problems. For these reasons a competent professional should be engaged to accurately diagnose the cause of the failure and determine the proper course of action for any repair.
Calling a foundation repair company should not be your first step. Many foundation failures did not happen overnight. They may take years to develop, particularly if soil conditions are involved. Almost all homes settle to some degree and may take many years to do so. A proper plan of repair may not call for restoration of the home to its original condition but rather stabilization of the foundation may be a more appropriate course of action. An independent structural or forensic engineer can provide clear insight into the cause and develop an effective repair plan.
Even for the accomplished do-it-yourselfer, this is one area where the professionals really need to be called for help.