Texas – a state known for Tex-Mex cuisine, legendary cowboy culture, and its unique soil composition. With over 1,300 types of soil, each with its distinct characteristics, understanding Terxan soil and just how complex it can be is crucial before embarking on any foundation repair. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions about your home’s foundation. 

Foundation issues are no joke. They can cause several problems and make your house crumble over time. While there are many reasons why foundation can cause trouble, it’s important to know that most are fixable when you work with the right team of professionals. 

In this article, we’ll highlight the most common foundation issues and why they happen, along with signs to look for, the repair process, the cost, and more.

I. Understanding Foundation Issues

Foundation issues happen for many reasons; most of the time, they’re easily identifiable. Some problems are more serious and also more costly than others, but they’re mostly all fixable one way or another. The key is to look for signs that indicate that the foundation of your Texas home might be in trouble.

1. Causes of Foundation Problems

  • Soil Composition and Types in Texas
    Texas has several soil types, including sandy loam, Blackland clay, yellow clay, alluvial soil, and sand. Some of these are easy to recognize, but in most cases, you should have the coil tested to be sure. This is easy to do with a professional organization or lab specializing in soil testing. The entire process shouldn’t take too long, and you’ll have precise results knowing what soil type you’re working with, which makes it easier to assess the foundation issue.
    Certain soil types in Texas can cause foundation issues due to too much clay. For example, the soil covering Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties has over 50% clay, which expands and shrinks, putting variable pressure levels onto your foundation. This can cause the foundation to sink after a few years.
  • Weather Conditions: Droughts and Flooding
    Texas heat can rise over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making the soil rather dry. During these heat waves, the soil can easily shrink and detach from your foundation, leaving it entirely without support. Sadly, that’s not the only issue. The humidity is also high, especially in the eastern regions of the state, and thunderstorms are common, so there’s a greater risk of flash floods. Floods can weaken the foundation, making existing cracks and gaps even larger.
  • Poor Construction Practices
    It’s easy to understand how poor construction practices can cause foundation problems. When something is not done correctly, it usually shows the first signs of trouble within the first few years. The most common construction practices that damage your home’s structural integrity are improper concrete curing, inadequate reinforcement, and poor-quality materials, all of which can cause the foundation to crack rapidly.
  • Tree Roots and Vegetation
    Have you ever seen a tree root stretching across the sidewalk, lifting the concrete from underneath? Tree roots and vegetation, in general, are powerful forces of nature that we should always factor in when building a home. Just like they lift the concrete sidewalk, tree roots can lift and break your foundation if they crawl underneath. Even if there’s no direct contact, the vegetation near your home can drain the moisture, leaving the soil too dry.

2. Signs of Foundation Problems

If there are indeed problems with your home’s foundation, and depending on the severity, your house will likely start showing the first signs within the first few years. Some of these are clear signs that your home’s structural integrity is in danger, while others might indicate other issues. This is why it’s important to work with professionals who know how to differentiate the signs and what they mean.

  • Cracks in Walls and Floors
    Cracks in walls and floors can happen due to poor materials used in building the home, but they’re also a common sign that something is wrong with your foundation. In most cases, these happen due to foundation settlement, which happens for many reasons. Most of the time, uneven soil is the root of the problem, but it can also be poor construction that doesn’t match your home’s overall weight.
  • Uneven or Sloping Floors
    If your foundation is settling or uneven, your floors can be some of the first elements in your home that tell you so. Uneven floors don’t always indicate foundation problems because, in some cases, the problem might be a leaking water pipe within the wall or floor that causes pooling beneath the foundation, breaking down the concrete and causing your floors to slope.
  • Sticking Doors and Windows
    If your doors and windows suddenly stick, you likely have a settling and sinking foundation. This is a clear sign because when the foundation sinks, one side of your home is lower. This can be very mild, meaning you might not notice it with the naked eye. But doors and windows don’t need much, and as your home settles, you’ll notice them being more difficult to open and close.
  • Gaps Around Windows and Doors
    Similar to wall cracks, gaps around doors and windows can indicate that the foundation may be faulty. However, this can also happen due to poor-quality construction materials, but it’s best not to guess. Call the professionals as quickly as possible because these gaps often happen due to foundation settlement. Keep an eye open for other signs, such as sticking doors and windows, as they typically accompany each other.
  • Water Pooling Around the Foundation
    Groundwater is everywhere and can easily make your life difficult if it starts pooling around the foundation. If any of the pipes in the exterior drainage system are clogged or broken, you might notice puddles next to your house. In this case, it’s time to act quickly because you have no time to waste when water sits near your foundation, which can seriously damage its structure and ability to support the home.

II. Pre-Repair Assessment

Although we say acting quickly is crucial, it’s also important to stay calm and do some pre-repair assessment. Understanding the issue and what caused it can make it much easier to devise an effective and time-efficient solution. You can do the pre-repair assessment yourself or call in the professionals for a more thorough inspection.

1. Foundation Inspection

  • Initial Visual Inspection
    Visually inspecting the house might seem daunting and like a waste of time, but it’s actually critical for understanding what’s going on. Start from the first problems you notice, whether cracks in the walls, uneven floors, or pooling water around the foundation. Take note of every little detail that might seem important.
  • Detailed Structural Analysis
    Structural analysis is sometimes best left to professionals because they likely know more about the load capacity of concrete. They usually look for load-bearing walls and columns, find the size of existing concrete footings, and figure out how much load is on them. They look at your home’s construction, noting what’s where and how they can fix the problem in the best possible way.
  • Soil Testing
    If there’s a problem with your foundation, it’s good practice to test the soil and see if that might be what’s causing all the trouble. Testing is done to identify problems such as inadequate compaction, improper drainage, and insufficient bearing capacity, all of which impact your foundation. Some soil tests tell you the moisture content, chemical composition, and the overall strength of the soil.
  • Creating a Repair Plan
    It always helps to have a repair plan whenever you’re working on the house, whether it’s the foundation or the roof. With a good plan, it’s easier to understand the repair process, the requirements, the time it takes, and also the cost. Your contractor typically does this plan for you, showing you where repair is needed, what exactly they’ll do, and how much that will cost you.

III. Types of Foundation Repairs

Depending on the damage, professionals will use different methods and tools to repair the foundation of your home. The exact process depends on the soil, as well, but you should get precise information on that in the repair plan.

1. Piering and Underpinning

  • Steel Piers
    A common long-term solution is to install steel piers under your home. Galvanized steel posts are the best for this purpose, but remember, they’re the most costly. These piers can go as deep as needed, reaching the soil adequate to support the foundation. One thing to remember is that steel piers are a permanent repair as they can work in pretty much any upper soil, carrying quite a lot of weight.
  • Helical Piers
    Helical piers are also permanent, but there’s a difference. A helically shaped screw-looking leading point pulls the pier deep below the soil surface. Helical piers are great for supporting lots of weight, and what’s best is that they don’t need to reach bedrock. Professionals drill them into the ground to permanently attach them to the house.
  • Concrete Piers
    Concrete piles look more like blocks or cylinders made from pre-cured concrete. They’re driven or placed under the foundation, consisting of one or multiple pieces. This option is considered an alternative to steel piers, but it’s cheaper. However, the soil beneath your house determines if concrete piles can be used for foundation repair.

2. Slab Jacking

  • Process of Slabjacking
    Slabjacking is done to lift a concrete slab. It’s an efficient solution when your foundation needs immediate repair. It works by injecting a cement mixture, a polymer resin, polyurethane foam, or another similarly strong base material under the existing concrete slabs. This should raise the slabs to their previous position, closing the gaps that may have occurred due to the foundation damage.
  • Benefits and Drawbacks
    The biggest benefit is how quickly slabjacking is done. The process helps lower the costs and is quick since you’re only repairing and not replacing the concrete. Plus, it’s zero-waste and minimally disruptive. The downside is that the actual cracks don’t go away. Professionals will also tell you it’s hard to predict the outcome, especially if the soil is still settling.

3. Wall Repair and Reinforcement

  • Carbon Fiber Straps
    Carbon fiber straps are commonly used to stabilize the foundation walls, preventing them from bowing. Although they don’t fix the already bowed wall, they can help prevent it from bowing even more.
  • Wall Anchors
    Wall anchors are used to stabilize and repair cracked or bowed foundation walls. Threaded steel rods are attached to the basement wall and anchored into the soil outside your house. A steel plate anchors the rod to the soil, making everything quite secure. Wall anchors stabilize and support the foundation but can’t fix every damage.
  • Bracing Systems
    Bracing systems help your house cope with the overall weight. This is an effective way to restore your basement and protect against even more serious foundation damage. They go along the walls, taking some of the weight coming down so that not everything is on the foundation.

4. Waterproofing and Drainage Solutions

  • Exterior Waterproofing
    Exterior waterproofing is pretty straightforward and effective in protecting your foundation. To install or even replace drainage pipes, you need to dig all the way to the foundation footer. In some cases, you can also apply a waterproof membrane to the outside of the foundation to protect it from water. However, this won’t fix the damage water has already caused your foundation.
  • Interior Drainage Systems
    An interior drainage system collects water from the place where the wall and floor meet. This prevents the water from pooling at the center of the basement, which could harm the floor and foundation.
  • Sump Pumps and French Drains
    A French drain manages water at the surface, pulling it away from your house to prevent it from pooling around it. A sump pump removes any water that has already accumulated in your basement, protecting it against flooding and damage.

IV. The Repair Process

The repair process differs based on the exact damage, soil type, and weight of your house, among other things. Your contractor will decide on the repair process, informing you of important things you should know.

1. Preparation

  • Securing Necessary Permits
    You will need a building permit to repair foundations in most Dallas-Fort Worth suburban cities, such as Plano, Garland, Flower Mound, Allen, and Frisco. You’re also required to work with a registered general contractor only. In addition, you need to have an engineering-approved repair plan before starting. However, keep in mind that different counties might have different requirements, so it’s best to check what you need before you start digging.
  • Preparing the Worksite
    Experienced professionals will carefully prepare the worksite to ensure safety and efficiency. This step is also important to ensure the job is done quickly and efficiently. Preparation means getting all the tools and materials to the site, securing the area, preparing the concrete, and getting everything ready based on the repair process.

2. Execution of Repairs

  • Step-by-Step Repair Process for Each Method
    It’s always important to know what to expect when repairing a foundation. However, the repair process varies depending on your chosen method, like the ones mentioned above, so it’s best to talk to your contractor if you want to know the step-by-step process. Some methods are more disruptive than others, taking more time and steps to achieve the final result.
  • Timeline and Duration of Repairs
    As mentioned, not every repair method requires the same effort, time, and money. You should know this from your repair plan, which was created specifically for you. The plan typically states the issue, the suggested repair, and the time it should take. Having a specific timeline helps plan the cleanup process and move back into the house if you have to move away during the repair.

3. Post-Repair Evaluation

  • Final Inspection
    Once the repair is complete, you should receive a post-repair evaluation from the foundation expert. This evaluation will provide you with information on the work done, the warranty, and recommendations for future maintenance. The expert will inspect the work done and evaluate whether the issue is fixed and to what extent.
  • Ensuring Structural Integrity
    After conducting inspections, you should check that your foundation was repaired according to the standards. You should also ensure that the repair was according to the soil type to prevent further damage. Fixing foundation issues the right way helps ensure the structural integrity of your house.
  • Addressing Any Remaining Issues
    After you inspect and evaluate how the repair went, you can note any remaining issues. If everything went according to plan, you shouldn’t have much to work on, but foundation repair is tricky, so you can never know the entire outcome. Your contractor should inform you of any remaining issues, why they couldn’t fix them, and how to address them separately.

V. Cost of Foundation Repairs

The cost is among the first things people are concerned about when their foundation needs repairing. Naturally, this is because foundation repair is not the cheapest work you could do on your house. In most cases, professionals will do a cost evaluation or include the price in the repair plan.

1. Factors Influencing Cost

  • Severity of Damage
    The bigger the damage, the more expensive the repair. This is almost a rule for most residential repairs, foundation included. Minor settling and some cracks can be fixed quickly and easily, which is why they’re often not as expensive to deal with. However, more severe damage that requires extensive foundation restoration averages around $5,000.
  • Type of Repair Method
    Lightweight repairs don’t require as many people or tools, so they’re naturally more affordable, whereas severe damage requires more heavy-duty equipment, permits, labor, materials, and time.
  • Size and Location of the Home
    Larger homes have larger foundations, so they’re more expensive to fix, especially when they have to look for physical damage somewhere on the foundation. The location of your home is also a big factor because the soil is not the same throughout Texas and is more difficult to work with in some areas.

VI. Preventive Measures

If your foundation is already damaged, it’s important you get right on to fixing it because these kinds of problems don’t go away on their own. However, if you’re only at risk and no real damage has yet been done, you can do a few things to prevent it.

1. Maintaining Proper Drainage

  • Regular Gutter Cleaning
    Regularly cleaning your gutters ensures the water can pass through without any obstacles. You should do this at least once a year, focusing on all gutters, but especially rain ones, to prevent the water from pooling near your house. It can rain heavily in parts of Texas, so it’s important to direct the water away from your home to protect its structural integrity.
  • Installing and Maintaining French Drains
    As mentioned, French drains can effectively redirect water away from your foundation. A Frech drain is actually a trench with rock or gravel and a pipe at the bottom. The pipe is perforated to allow the water to flow through but prevent the debris and soil from entering.

2. Soil Moisture Management

  • Using Soaker Hoses
    If your soil is too dry, it can detach from the foundation, leaving it without support. This can be a serious issue, so it’s best to use a soaker hose. If you live in Trans-Pecos, Texas, or another area where it doesn’t rain a lot, you might have to use a soaker hose to add some moisture to the soil. A soaker hose releases water over the ground, or you can bury it a few inches into the soil.
  • Landscaping Tips to Prevent Soil Shifting
    The best way to prevent soil shifting is to maintain a healthy plant cover, but you can also try mulching. Planting winter rye as a cover crop or green manure crop, as some call it. Geo-textile materials, hydroseeding, and sodding are also good for establishing a permanent cover for steep slopes. Also, ensure you have an efficient stormwater runoff if you live in an area where it rains a lot. A stormwater runoff redirects stormwater and roof runoff away from your home.

3. Regular Inspections and Maintenance

  • Annual Foundation Inspections
    An annual foundation inspection is crucial for checking out previous issues and also if there’s anything new going on with your foundation. Experts do this by checking the walls, siding, ground, and stairs when looking at the outside of the house. Inside, they look at the walls again, as well as the floors, doors, and windows. They will also look at the attic and basement for any signs of damage.
  • Addressing Minor Issues Promptly
    When you do annual inspections, it’s easy to spot any minor issues that occurred since last year. If you notice anything suspicious, you should act promptly. Leaving potential foundation problems unattended puts your home’s structural integrity in danger. Plus, it’s less costly to repair the problem while still minor.

Above All Foundation Repair: Experts on the Foundation Repair Process in Texas

The foundation is likely the most important part of the house, holding its entire weight and ensuring it doesn’t sink into the soil. However, issues can happen, causing your house to crack or settle and your windows and doors to stick. 

For this reason, annual inspections and repairing minor problems are key in ensuring everything runs smoothly. If there’s a problem, you should act fast, contacting professionals to help you assess the situation and fix the issue.  Professional repair services like Above All Foundation Repair have the tools and experts to help immediately, fixing the foundation and preventing the problem from occurring again.

(210) 750-6295