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Abnormal is just one word that’s being used to describe the winter season that much of the United States recently survived. Lows were lower than normal, snowfall was greater than normal, and the entire season seemed to last longer than normal. So now that the snow is thawing and trees are budding, your honey-do list is probably longer than normal, too. But while you’re checking on the status of your HVAC system, inspecting gutters and roofs, and caulking windows, your home’s greatest damage is likely beneath your feet, in your basement. Minor cracks in your basement walls, crawl space, or foundation could be a sign of a much larger problem that should be addressed early on.

There are an estimated 60 million basements in the United States, 3 million of which have foundation issues. American homeowners spend more than $4 billion annually repairing their foundation and basement problems, but your own repair costs could be minimal if you’re able to address issues sooner, rather than later. Start by checking your driveway and walkways; cracking in these concrete surfaces indicates differential settlement in the soil beneath. While a crack in your driveway by no means indicates that your foundation is failing, it may tell a story about the soil that your entire foundation is sitting on.

cracked driveway
A cracked driveway could indicate a larger foundation issue
Credit: www.florida-pavers.com

As you probably learned in science class years ago, water expands when it reaches freezing temperatures. This past winter’s frigid temperatures likely froze the water sitting beneath your home’s concrete foundation, resulting in cracks in your basement or crawl space walls. These cracks have allowed water to penetrate the concrete all winter long, causing them to expand and weaken your foundation. Left unattended, your wall will eventually lose its ability to resist excess forces from soil, sloping lawns, or tree roots, and will start to bow. As it bows, the lateral weight from the house sitting on the foundation increases the bending stresses on your wall, creating a much more serious problem for your home’s structural integrity.

bowing wall diagram
Soil pressure can force your wall to bow
Credit: foundationspecialties.com

A homeowner with a cracked foundation in North Carolina recently decided to take action before his damage became critical. Years earlier, a backhoe had accidentally backed into one of his partially-exposed basement walls during construction. The impact cracked the corner of the foundation, and after years of settlement and heavy rains, soil pressure pulled the wall apart, allowing water to leak in through the crack. The wall needed structural repair, but water drainage was also vitally necessary.

A combination of repair methods satisfactorily resolved the home’s foundation issues. Since draining the water was necessary before any repair process could begin, a custom basement drainage system was built. Once the walls were sufficiently drained and dried, the homeowner installed 6-foot by 10-inch StrongHoldTM carbon fabric straps to his damaged corner, and coated the fabric with a protective topcoat.

Water seeps in through the large crack
Soil pressure forces the wall to pull apart
Carbon fiber straps are wrapped around the corner

The StrongHoldTM repair system confined the cracks in a matter of hours, producing a stronger, leak-free corner. The homeowner saved more than $10,000 and won’t have to worry about maintaining his repair at all. In fact, this home was one of 8,000 that HJ3 has repaired with no call-backs! If you need basement repairs and would like to learn more about HJ3’s StrongHoldTM reinforcement systems, contact HJ3 at info@hj3.com.