When it comes to home repairs, there are dozens of projects that homeowners can tackle in a weekend. With networks like HGTV and the DIY Network, professionals and amateurs alike can take complex projects and knock them out in a short 30-minute episode. While creating a custom paint finish or building a pallet table are viable home projects for your average weekend warrior, basement repair projects are large enough in scope that a true professional is often a must.
In the sections below, we'll take a look at some of the most common basement repair myths that you'll find throughout the web and on TV, and show you how and why you should consider a contractor with the experience and tools needed to do things the right way.
Myth #1: New Homes Are Flawless
When you flip on your favorite house hunting show, you'll often find the couple or individual involved seeking out a new home with the highest end finishings that they can find. While newer homes often come with the newest gadgets and finishings, it doesn't mean that they're impervious to water and foundation issues.
When new homes are built, construction crews dig out a significant area of soil to place the home's foundation. Digging out that amount of soil loosens the surrounding soil that has slowly compacted over hundreds of years. Once the foundation is in place, fill dirt is placed back against the foundation itself and is tamped down using specialized equipment. It's true that contractors will do their best to compact the soils surrounding the new home's foundation, but they just can't match the power and time that it took to settle the soil in the first place.
Slightly looser soil surrounding a new home's foundation is more prone to water penetration due to weather, snow melt and other natural events. Looser soils can also lead to issues with foundation settlement, bowing basement walls and foundation heave as moisture is absorbed into the earth. If the home builder didn't take care to properly prepare the soils and protect your foundation against water penetration and soil pressures, your brand new home could see significant issues in a short period of time.
Myth #2: Filling Foundation Cracks is an Easy Fix
One of the most obvious signs of foundation damage in any home is visible cracking in foundation walls. While foundation cracks signify an issue, the cracks themselves aren't the actual problem. Patching foundation cracks will definitely hide the aesthetic issue, but it won't do anything to correct the source of the problem.
Often times, cracks in foundation walls come from damage that's occurring in another portion of the house. For example, settlement on one end of a home or the other can present as stair-stepped cracks in the foundation wall at the middle of the home. Cracks in exterior brick or mortar can also be only the symptom of a problem at another point of your home's foundation. The only way to locate the source of the problem is to bring in a foundation expert. Without the proper diagnosis, homeowners will continue to see additional signs of damage until the problem is addressed.
Myth #3: Waiting to Repair the Issue Will Help or Cost Less
Rule number one when it comes to basement repair: Foundation problems and waterproofing issues will never get better with time.
It's true that waterproofing issues may ebb and flow depending on your area's annual rain and snowfall amounts. Varied moisture levels may determine how MUCH water leaks into your basement, but it doesn't mean that the leak will repair itself during drier times. The same can be said about foundation issues. Bowing and bending walls will only continue to worsen as pressure from the outside soils push inward and/or upward against your home's foundation. Settlement issues will also get worse as time goes on until your home's foundation is properly supported by competent soils or bedrock. Ultimately, the longer you wait, the worse your waterproofing or foundation damage will be.
Myth #4: Any Contractor Can Repair a Basement
There are dozens of contractors that like to advertise themselves as a one-time fix for any project of any size. That's just not true. While there are some contractors who have wider areas of knowledge than others, there's a lot to be said for experience. Would it make much sense to call an electrician to repair your plumbing, or an accountant to install new windows? If not, why would you ask a contractor to complete a basement repair project that they've never done before?
To make sure that your contractor of choice is up to the challenge of waterproofing or foundation projects, ask for references - and ask for references specific to the type of repair your home needs. If any contractor is unable or unwilling to provide references for their work it should be a giant red flag that something isn't right.
Myth #5: Every Home Has Basement Issues
It's true that every home will experience a basement issue at one point or another, but not every home has persistent or severe basement repair issues. Expected maintenance for basements should include things like occasionally changing paint colors, replacing worn out carpet or flooring, and updating inefficient or damaged appliances. Everyday maintenance should never include repeatedly breaking out the shop vac after a heavy rain, bailing out clogged window wells, or just hoping that the foundation wall doesn't tilt any further.
If your basement has seen repeated or worsening issues related to waterproofing or foundation problems, it's time to call in the pros. Not only can these types of problems make your basement unlivable, but they can be a significant barrier when it comes time to put your home up for sale.
Regardless of what you might have heard from friends or seen on your favorite television show, basement repair is never a black and white type of decision. More often than not there are several contributing factors to any repair, and unless you possess the knowledge that comes from decades of experience you can end up causing more harm than good with a DIY fix.
Need help in Nebraska, Kansas, Western Iowa or Northwest Missouri?
If you're interested in learning more about the possible solutions for your basement waterproofing and foundation issues, give us a call at 800-827-0702 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and same-day quote before a little problem becomes a big emergency.