Damage to any structure's foundation should never be overlooked, as a faulty foundation can cause a home or other building to lean, shift and settle, which then leads to cracks in the walls, ceilings and floors. In turn, your home might become very draughty, and you will be letting out your heating and cooling throughout the year, raising your utility bills. In severe cases, doors and windows might not even close as they should, and water may seep into the home's basement from those cracks in the foundation.
Underpinning is a good way to repair such damage and strengthen your home's foundation against future damage. Note a few questions you might have about the process of house underpinning so you can determine if this is the right choice for your home.
Does underpinning involve actual pins?
There are several different methods of underpinning a home, including fastening studs or other such pieces to the home's foundation. This holds the foundation together, dispersing the weight of the home and adding strength to the foundation itself. However, other methods might include pouring an added layer of concrete around the home, which adheres to the foundation and makes it thicker and stronger. Some homes are constructed on pillars or short beams, elevating it off the ground, and these may be outright replaced. A contractor can tell you the best underpinning option for your home in particular.
Why not just use foundation patching compound?
If your home's foundation has a few minor cracks, you might be able to use store-bought patching compound to fill in those spaces. However, this compound is not as strong as the pins or poured concrete used for an actual underpinning process. For severe cracks, especially if your home is constructed on soft or moist soil that will allow the foundation to continue to crack and shift, it's best to invest in underpinning.
What is basement lowering?
In some cases, a home underpinning may include renovating the basement, as the floor and walls may need to be reworked in order for extensive damage to be repaired. This lowering can include the addition of a laundry room, the addition of floor drains or finishing the basement with drywall and tile flooring. Having this work done in addition to the underpinning can give you more living space, increase the value of the home and make the basement more workable for your needs in particular. Ask your contractor about having this done at the same time as the underpinning so you know your home's interior space will work for your needs in particular.