Bad. Wrong. Poor. Sub-par. Terrible. Inadequate. Crappy. Incorrect. #fail.
A previous foundation repair that seems *just not right* is what is on your mind right now – along with a few other words that mean bad perhaps?
It’s understandable to feel frustrated when repairs don’t seem to have been done correctly.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been inspecting and repairing foundations for homeowners in Bryan, College Station, and the greater Brazos Valley area for 35+ years. We have gotten a few calls over the years asking us to come and look at a home that was previously (and sometimes recently) repaired by other companies or even by us on occasion.
This article will discuss the signs that a foundation repair job was not well done. We will also present signs that are NOT indicators of a poorly done foundation repair. Then we will share our thoughts on what options you have going forward.
Signs of a Bad Foundation Repair Job
It can be difficult to determine if a repair job was done correctly after the fact since all the evidence is buried in the ground. But the signs of a poorly competed foundation repair job are really the same as the top signs of foundation settlement. Things like:
- Diagonal cracks in walls around door and window frames
- Fit and function of doors
- Diagonal cracks in brick and separation
- Gapping and separation of trim, finishes, and/or fixtures
- Floors that are loose and bouncy (for crawl space homes only)
So if you are quickly seeing all of the same stuff all over again after a recent repair project, then something is likely “off” with the repairs.
Has it been a while (like quite a few years) since the repairs were done? If you are seeing many of these things happening again, there is some cause for concern with some symptoms more than others.
Let’s talk about each of these signs one by one to sort this out.
Diagonal Wall Cracks
Cracks in drywall returning is not the best indicator of more problems post-foundation repair. The thing is, cracks never really *go away* unless you replace the actual wallboard. Most of the time, homeowners will cosmetically conceal cracks but they are still lurking under that new spackle and paint.
Even minor movement, or humidity and seasonal changes that cause any expansion or contraction can bring wall cracks back into hairline visibility. Expect existing cracks to sometimes become more noticeable with small fluctuations. This is not due to a bad foundation job because, frankly, the cracks never went anywhere.
No amount of *cosmetic-wall-fixing-up* will prevent cracks from ever coming back. Seeing hairline cracks again where they were before doesn’t automatically mean your foundation repair job was bad.
When Wall Cracks Could Be a Sign of a Bad Foundation Repair
Now on the other hand, you shouldn’t see any known or existing cracks “opening up” a lot or big gaps being created again. If the cracks do open up in a wide way, then either your foundation repair was done poorly OR further settlement is occurring in the same area.
If you get new cracks that were not there before, foundation settlement is occurring again in a different location. Even this doesn’t necessarily mean a foundation repair was poorly done, it just means that there is now settlement in another area and the source of that issue needs to be investigated.
Fit and Function of Doors
You should expect doors and windows to fit and function properly after foundation repairs. If they do not, then the foundation repairs did not meet the main goals of the foundation repair process.
Diagonal Brick Cracks
Brick mortar cracks are similar to the wall crack situation. You *might* see small hairline cracks reappear in the same brick mortar that was already affected by the initial foundation settlement. This is likely due to the same seasonal and expected expansion, contraction, and movement issues.
However, you should not see new cracks or existing cracks opening back up widely. If you do, then again, it’s either a poor foundation repair job that was not thorough and complete OR you have additional settlement in a new area.
Gapping and Separation of Trim, Finishes, or Fixtures
Foundation repair is supposed to bring your trim separations and gaps back to normal. Trim boards, built-ins, and cabinetry should have returned to proper alignment with foundation repair. If these kinds of situations are still present in the home immediately after foundation repair, something ain’t right.
Loose/Bouncy Floors – for Crawl Space Homes
For crawl space types of foundations, like pier and beam or block and base homes, loose and bouncy floors is one of the main symptoms pier and beam foundation repairs or house leveling should be alleviating.
If your floors are still bouncy in a crawl space home immediately after repairs, then the work was not done well.
Now, crawl space foundations are much more susceptible to seasonal changes in moisture, which is why you need to get regular maintenance for pier and beam foundations. If you don’t get the home checked, reshimmed, and adjusted every 5 years or so, you could again see loose and bouncy floors.
Depending on how long it has been since a crawl space foundation repair was done, you might just be in need of a maintenance visit. It’s not a “poor foundation job” that’s to blame. Crawl space foundation repairs don’t typically carry lifetime warranties because adjustments will always be needed to properly care for the home with regular maintenance.
Summarizing Signs of Bad Foundation Repair
So that you don’t have to sort through the previous sections and pick out the things that are signs and not signs, I’m gonna put it into a quick list now without all the explanations. If you need all the explanations, look back at the sections above.
The top 5 immediate signs of a foundation repair that was done poorly are:
- Wall cracks that are just as open as before or open back up the same as before
- Doors that still don’t work right or begin not working right quickly after repairs
- Brick cracks or separations that are just as open as before or open back up
- Gaps or separations in trim, fixtures, or finishes that did not get corrected
- Loose and bouncy floors on a crawl space home immediately after repairs
What Results to Expect From Foundation Repairs
You should expect your signs of foundation issues to be better after foundation repairs. Cracks should close up, doors should work, and gaps and separations should come back together. There should be improvements all-around in the functionality of your home. Things should work right and fit together.
If anything is still not working right or fitting back together, the goals of foundation repair have not been met and you could conclude that the foundation repair was done poorly.
You should also expect your home’s stability to improve. It should not continue to sink or settle immediately after repairs. If it does, further investigation would be needed to figure out what is happening.
Don’t Expect Perfection from Foundation Repairs
Everything has its limitations though and there are some things you should not expect from foundation repairs. The one we have already discussed is the wall crack situation. Cosmetic wall crack repairs usually take place after a foundation repair, but cosmetic wall crack repairs don’t always last and hairline cracks can return.
You should also not expect perfectly level floors everywhere. If you were to slide your toolbox level around all the floors of your whole house after foundation repairs, you would not find 100% perfection all around. Slab foundations and floors are not ever perfectly level to begin with.
Sometimes foundation raising and leveling can only go so far before it causes damage to other parts of the home. A foundation repair team will raise a home as far as they can to make it as level as possible, but they won’t risk breaking your house more by lifting it more than it will allow.
In other words, a friction point might prevent the full raising of a home to level. It’s impossible to know in a post-repair situation if a friction point was identified during the repair process though.
This is a lot to explain in one little section, we’ve actually got a whole other article on the topic that you can check out here: “What Will (and Won’t) Foundation Repair Do For My Home?”
Possible Explanations for Poor Foundation Repairs
When bad things happen, people want to know why. Poor results from foundation repairs can typically be attributed to 3 things.
- An unaddressed plumbing issue
- Method of foundation repair
- Contractor choice
An undetected plumbing problem can wreak havoc on your foundation. A properly executed foundation repair job should include testing your plumbing system (especially if the repairs were near a plumbing fixture).
If plumbing was not tested during the repair process to double-check for issues, that plumbing leak can continue to cause settlement even after your foundation is repaired.
Foundation repair methods and contractor choice go hand in hand. When you choose a contracting company, you are also typically choosing a method whether you know it or not. There are different methods of foundation repair and usually, companies only do one type.
If homeowners choose a method or contractor that is of lower quality, cheaper price, or without a fair warranty, then unfortunately the saying, “you get what you pay for” sometimes applies.
This might seem a tad harsh. But honestly, if you are asking these questions about how to know if your foundation repair is bad, you might already know the answer in your gut.
What To Do When Think You Have Had Bad Foundation Work
If you feel that your foundation repair job is not well done, your first course of action is to get back with the company that originally did the repair.
They might have a warranty or guarantee that you don’t know about or remember. If you are a new owner of the home, the warranty could be transferable (ours is BTW).
Keep in mind that even if a company has a warranty, it still can result in additional costs. Most service agreements offer no-cost follow-up repairs within a certain limited timeframe. Then after that time, there could be increasing charges depending on the number of years it has been since the original repair.
Your best bet in getting problems addressed is to inquire with kindness if you can – even though I know you might be mad. Anyone (contractor or otherwise) is much more likely to help you if the approach comes from a place of asking for assistance rather than anger.
If your problems are not addressed to your satisfaction, consider contacting the Better Business Bureau and filing a complaint if you feel that the company has acted unethically.
Ready for Better Foundation Work?
Foundation repair is a major expense to the single most important structural component of your home. You really only get one shot to make the right choice in methods and contractors, and if you have to choose again it just adds to your costs.
Choosing a trustworthy and reliable contractor with good reviews and a good warranty that is established in the community is your best defense against bad foundation repairs.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, our family-legacy business has been serving BCS and the surrounding Brazos Valley communities since 1985. If we did your initial repairs and you aren’t happy, we want to make it right.
We offer a lifetime transferable warranty on our slab foundation repairs and have been called upon many times to do repairs again that other companies did poorly the first time around.