How Do You Fix a Crumbling Concrete Foundation: Tips and Techniques

May 24, 2023

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Never ignore a crumbling concrete foundation! The longer you put off needed fixes, the worse those cracks and leaks become. Eventually, your home might need leveling, underpinning, or a new foundation.

To fix crumbling concrete foundation:

  • Save larger chunks if possible.
  • Clean out the damaged area.
  • Wet the concrete down.
  • Put any saved pieces back in place.
  • Use cement paint and then concrete patching compound.
  • Cover with a plastic tarp for several days, wetting the compound daily.

Keep reading if you're ready to tackle a crumbling concrete foundation around your property! Some added details with these instructions ensure quality repairs that last. Also, it's good to review signs of foundation damage and when to call a professional. You know your property will be in good condition from its foundation up.

how to fix crumbling concrete foundation

How to Fix Crumbling Concrete Foundation

Before addressing a crumbling concrete foundation on your property, ensure you have the necessary safety gear. This includes eye protection, thick work gloves, and appropriate shoes. It would be best if you also used a dust mask for larger projects for your nose and mouth.

  • Start by removing larger chunks of concrete but set these aside. Then, you can use them for patching as you work.
  • Use a stiff-bristled brush to remove smaller pieces, dust, and other debris.
  • Go over the area with a shop vacuum for thorough cleaning.
  • You can also spray exterior concrete with a garden hose for added cleaning. However, please wait 24 hours for it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
  • When ready to patch, mix your concrete patching compound according to package directions.
  • Lightly mist the affected area with a spray bottle. You don't want to soak the concrete, but just dampen it.
  • Apply concrete paint or a patching primer and allow it to dry. This provides a foundation for the patching material.
  • Apply patching compound to the area with a putty knife or trowel. Push larger chunks of concrete back into place as you work, if possible, and patch over those pieces.
  • Allow the patching compound to dry for at least two hours. Then, add a second coat. Scrape away any excess with your putty knife or trowel.
  • Let the second coat cure for about 30 minutes, and then cover it with a plastic tarp.
  • After one day, uncover the material and lightly mist it with water again. Finally, recover it with the tarp.
  • After the second day, check if the material has dried thoroughly. If not, mist it and then cover it again for another day.

When Should You Use a Professional for Foundation Repair?

While property owners might address some minor foundation cracks, it's good to turn to the pros for extensive damage. For example, bowing basement walls need professional fixing, and quickly! Once walls start to bow, they risk collapsing.

A foundation repair contractor typically repairs bowing basement walls with heavy-duty staples or carbon fiber straps. These attach to the walls and help push them back into place. Then, the staples or straps provide added support against future weakening.

Additionally, a professional repair contractor can address damaged concrete slabs. In many cases, they will need to pull up interior flooring to patch those cracks. Their expertise prevents flooring to damage during this process!

concrete foundation repair

What Causes Crumbling Concrete Foundation?

A foundation repair contractor can inspect your property's foundation and note why it's crumbling. In the meantime, check out some common risk factors that often lead to damaged and crumbling concrete.

Freeze-thaw cycles

Concrete absorbs water even after it cures. That water expands as it freezes and then contracts as it thaws. This freeze-thaw cycle puts pressure on the concrete, risking cracks and eventual crumbling. This damage is more common in areas prone to heavy snowfall.

High mineral content

Aggregate in older concrete mixtures is prone to high silica and mica content. These minerals oxidize over time, leaching into the concrete and risking crumbling. As a result, these minerals are more common in structures built before 2015 and especially in homes in the northwest United States.

Snow salt exposure

Snow salt breaks down concrete binders, risking spalling, cracking, chips, and crumbling. While you don't necessarily salt your property's foundation, melting snow and shifting soil deposit this material all around your property! Consider using something less corrosive such as sand or magnesium chloride, to melt snow.

Poor-quality concrete mixture

Contractors mix concrete materials onsite, and some disreputable contractors might add too much water. As a result, binders keeping concrete together then break down prematurely, leading to crumbling and other damage.

Poor property drainage

Properties need adequate drainage to direct groundwater away from concrete foundations. Without proper drainage, water builds up around concrete slabs and basements. The concrete then absorbs this moisture, softening and eventually cracking.

Additionally, note that overly moist soil puts pressure on foundation concrete. Unfortunately, this added pressure or weight also risks weakening concrete over time. You might notice spalling, cracks, chips, and outright crumbling.

How Do You Prevent Foundation Damage?

Waterproofing is one of property owners' best preventative measures for foundations. Applying waterproof coatings inside basement walls helps protect against damage. Sump pumps also protect against standing water and dampness inside a structure. However, note that most moisture is outside a structure, not on the inside!

Property owners might consider exterior waterproofing solutions to protect a foundation. For example, a contractor can excavate around basement walls and apply waterproof membranes. These repel water and keep that concrete dry and secure.

Additionally, French drain installations keep moisture in the soil away from concrete foundations. These pipes, buried just a few inches underground, trap moisture and direct it elsewhere. French drains not only protect foundations, but they can also help with irrigation! For example, those pipes can empty into a nearby garden, keeping it well-watered.

Above all, never neglect needed foundation inspections. A contractor can quickly spot issues around your property and make suggestions for keeping concrete dry. They can also note issues that risk foundation damage, such as poor interior ventilation or added weight around your structure.

Early Signs of a Crumbling Concrete Foundation

Tackling foundation damage before it, crumbles can keep repair issues to a minimum. You also reduce the risk of letting your structure sink or settle, which means even costlier fixes! Check out some early warning signs of a weak or damaged foundation:

  • Foundation cracks let moisture into interior spaces. You might notice a musty basement or dampness on concrete floors. Your structure might also feel clammier throughout the summer months.
  • This moisture also affects a structure's subflooring. Consequently, floorboards often get soft and spongy or creak excessively when you walk over them.
  • Moisture coming through foundation cracks also risks mold along walls and mildewed carpeting.
  • Wall and ceiling cracks are not normal, even for older homes. Instead, these often indicate a weak foundation that isn't supporting the structure properly.
  • Property owners often forget that standing water, including rodents and insects, attracts pests. As such, moisture coming through foundation leaks usually means infestations. If you've experienced this on your property, call an exterminator and a foundation repair contractor!

Additionally, property owners should be aware of what causes foundation damage, such as poor soil drainage. You can then be alert to these risks around your property. For instance, schedule a foundation inspection if you notice your property's soil is spongy or muddy.

Can You Pour New Concrete Over Old, Cracked Concrete?

In some cases, a contractor might pour new concrete over damaged material. Also, a contractor can sometimes replace damaged concrete foundation sections with fresh concrete. Additionally, underpinning is an excellent solution for addressing cracked and crumbling concrete. This process involves pins or concrete piers or a mass pour process.

What is a mass pour underpinning process?

A contractor first excavates sections under damaged concrete areas to underpin concrete with mass pouring. Then, they pour concrete into those pits and allows it to cure. This fresh concrete supports the structure and helps keep it level and even.

What is underpinning with pins or piers?

Screw piles twist into the ground, and a contractor then attaches them to the foundation sides. These pins or piles then lift into place, returning a crumbling foundation to a level position.

Also, a contractor can pour concrete piers under a crumbling foundation. An auger drills an opening into the ground and the contractor then installs a rebar cage. Next, the contractor pours concrete into that cage and allows it to cure. This fresh concrete supports crumbling areas and keeps the structure secure.

Grand Rapids Foundation Repair Pros is happy to bring you this information about addressing crumbling concrete foundations. Hopefully you found it helpful! If so, be sure to check out our other blog posts for even more great tips on foundation maintenance. Also, if you need professional services and are in the area, call our team. We'll start your property off with a FREE foundation inspection and note the best repair method. You have nothing to lose and only a secure property to gain by contacting us today!


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