What DIY Foundation Repairs Should You Attempt? (Hint: Please Don’t)
Statistics state that 80% of homes in the US are at least 20 years old. As time passes, houses are likely to develop more and more foundation issues.
However, your home doesn’t need to be “old” to experience foundation problems. Other factors than age—such as expansive soil and excessive moisture—can kickstart foundation issues.
If you suspect that your home’s foundation is not 100%, it can be tempting to get down there and try and do something yourself before things get worse.
However, DIY foundation repairs are not always a smart plan. In some cases, there are a few things you can do yourself. However, most of these are preventative and care measures.
Most serious foundation repairs need to be carried out by an expert. Otherwise, you might end up causing more harm than good.
If you want to get clear on what things you can tackle on your own, and what to call the pros in for, keep reading.
Do: Gutter Work
As the title of this article hints, there aren’t a lot of serious foundation repairs that homeowners should attempt on their own—if any.
However, there are a number of preventive foundation maintenance measures that you can take.
Whether you are seeing the signs of bad home foundation problems, or simply want to prevent them, one of the best things you can do right away is to inspect your guttering.
Guttering plays a key role in protecting your home’s foundations. It diverts water from your roof away into your yard, a drainage system, or into water collection tanks.
If your gutters are not doing this, then chances are any rain that falls is going to go racing straight down into the soil around your foundations. When this happens, it can not only make your foundations damp, but it can also cause the surrounding soil to expand. This can destabilize your foundation and leads to cracks and weakness over time.
To get your gutters into foundation-friendly shape, first, make sure they’re free of leaves and debris. Then inspect them for leaks, cracks, or other issues that could cause them to deposit water into your foundations.
Lastly, take a look at the downpipes. Are they pointing directly onto the ground at the base of your house? If so, this is not good. In this case, you will need to extend the downpipes and direct the water away.
Do: Clean up Around Your Foundations
Another foundation maintenance tip that might not seem like it has anything to do with foundations at first glance is cleaning up plant matter around your house.
If you have any vegetation that is growing very close to your home, this can cause foundational issues.
Smaller plants like bushes and shrubs aren’t a huge issue. However, if they are growing right up against your walls, this can create a damp environment that, once again, isn’t great for foundation integrity.
To prevent this, prune back or eliminate any unruly shrubs. This will have the added benefit of making the foundations more accessible when it comes time to bring in the professionals.
However, what’s worse than shrubs, is any large trees with aggressive roots systems in proximity to your house. Trees planted to close can send their roots right up against your foundation. Over time, they can squeeze their way into small cracks and ultimately create larger and more serious ones.
Therefore, to keep your foundations in good shape, you should look at culling any large trees that are positioned close to your home.
Excess water is the enemy of even the newest and sturdiest foundation.
If your foundation is showing any signs of wear and tear, it’s essential that you keep as much water as you can away from it.
Besides your roof, another water collection area is your yard. If areas of your yard slope towards the foundations of your home, this can direct a lot of water into them.
The best way to fix this is to have your yard graded correctly so that all excess water is diverted away from your house. This will help with soil stabilization.
If you don’t have much of a yard, then this is a relatively simple process.
However, if you have an established yard, you might not want to go and grade up hours of labor and potentially thousands of dollars worth of yard scaping, only to be left in a dust bowl of a garden.
Instead, in this case, you can opt for smaller water diverting solutions, such as digging trenches or getting french drains put in.
Do: Wall Painting
If your home is in need of foundation repairs, chances are it might also need some other repairs as well.
Unstable foundations can cause a variety of issues up top in your home, such as doors and windows that stick and floor and wall cracks.
These are all issues that you can most definitely DIY if you have the time and skill. However, in most cases, it is best to get your foundation professionally fixed first, so that you won’t have to repeat the fixes.
If you are saving up for foundation repairs, and the exterior of your home is in need of attention, one thing you can do yourself is paint and do minor plastering.
Peeling paint and falling out plaster at the base of your home doesn’t do your foundation any favors. Large areas of exposed wall can wick in moisture, which, once again, can make any existing foundation issues worse.
To prevent this, if you aren’t able to address the underlying issues for a little while, you can do a bit of patching and painting work. However, be aware that in most cases, any patches you attempt with plaster won’t last longer than a season or two.
If there are cracks in your foundation, pushing a little plaster into them is not going to solve the bigger issue. So, until you get proper foundation repairs done, remember these measures are temporary.
Don’t: Seal Your Basement Yourself
Besides cracks in foundation walls, one of the signs of bad home foundation issues is a leaky basement. If your basement is leaking severely, this means that your foundations are damp and that excessive soil expansion is probably going on.
For a homeowner, having a leaky basement can be a much more immediate and urgent seeming problem than the nagging thought that your foundations aren’t in great shape.
Leaking basements can cause appliance issues, mold, water damage, and more. What’s more, the longer your basement leaks, the worse the damage to your foundations will be.
However, unfortunately, DIY basement sealing techniques rarely work. In most cases, you’ll have to fork out for expensive products, only to see the damp creep back in down the line.
Instead, rather save the money and have your foundations fixed expertly. After this, you can still address any damp issues in your basement. At this point, they will likely be a lot less severe and might be reduced to something that you can fix on your own.
Don’t: Dig Down Around Your Foundations
For the courageous DIYer, signs of severe home foundation issues can make you just want to grab a spade and start digging to find out how bad it is.
This is not a good idea. Exposing your foundations can simply lead to more problems.
Cracked areas that were being supported by the surrounding soil might crack further. What’s more, you’ll be exposing your foundations to the elements, something they are not designed to withstand as they aren’t painted or sealed.
Don’t: Attempt DIY Reinforcement
If you are considering DIY foundation repairs, one of the things that you absolutely shouldn’t attempt is do-it-yourself foundation reinforcement.
Firstly, most homeowners do not have the equipment to do this. Professional basement repair services use specialized machinery and items, such as industry-specific jacks, drills, crack ejection systems, pilings, and more.
Without this type of equipment, at best, you will be able to do some crack stuffing.
As we just said, plastering up cracks in a foundation wall is not going to do much good. In a short time, the plaster will likely fall out, and your foundation will be no closer to being fixed.
At worst, you might start to make a structural impact on your foundations, opening up the risk of injuries, further cracking, and potential collapses.
Ditch DIY Foundation Repairs: Call Us Instead
While there are a number of things you can do to keep your foundations in good shape, these are not so much DIY foundation repairs as preventative measures.
If you have discovered any signs of bad home foundation issues, such as cracks in your foundation, call us.
Here at Childers Brothers Inc., we specialize in some of the most cutting edge and effective foundation repair methods around. Through the use of premium products, elite technicians, and science-based solutions, we can give your foundations back their strength.
Take a look at our foundation repair services today.
If you would like to know how much it will cost to restore your foundations, contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation analysis session.