The only “good” thing about shearing is that it is an obvious problem. It isn’t hidden, nor will you be confused when you see it. Shearing is a crack — small or large — that usually looks like a stair step. You likely will see water damage around the crack. Shearing can happen on any home with a concrete foundation and basement walls.
Don’t be tempted to leave your foundation alone, as long-term problems with a foundation can affect the ceiling, floor, windows, and doorways of your home above the basement.
What Causes Shearing
In one word: water. Poor soil drainage around a home’s foundation results in water leakage through porous concrete as well as moisture-saturated soil that presses in on the foundation. This causes cracks and, in more severe cases, flooding and foundation shifting.
If whoever built your home did not prep the foundation by compacting the dirt the correct way, or did not backfill properly, there likely are gaps in the soil beneath and around your house. Compacting dirt means compressing it to remove soil pockets and make the dirt as stable as possible. Backfilling is when soil that was excavated for the foundation is put back around the foundation and compacted.
Homeowners living in cold geographical areas must contend with frost heaves, ice dams dripping water next to the foundation, and a freezing-and-thawing cycle. Since heat rises, whatever heat you have in the house heads for the roof, making the roof warmer — even on the outside. When snow hits the roof, it melts and approaches the eaves and gutters, where it freezes. Any water that runs over the ice, drips near the foundation.
In colder temperatures, water that gets into the ground may freeze and expand. When it does, the soil puts pressure on the foundation. This can shift a foundation.
Repairs are effective — provided specialists do them. Fixing shearing is not something a homeowner should attempt on his or her own. It also isn’t something you want a general contractor to do. Seek experienced basement and foundation repair experts as the shearing will get worse with time if not fixed as soon as possible.
Simple cracks may be filled with a concrete epoxy to prevent further cracking, but shearing goes beyond mere cracking, as it is indicative of more severe problems. However, specialists also can fix these problems. If the issue is water pressure and a shifting foundation, a professional might recommend providing additional foundation support in one of a few ways.
Slabjacking is when expanding stabilizing foam is injected via small holes in the foundation. The foam goes under the foundation and fills soil gaps and points of erosion into which the foundation may be shifting. Wall anchors help prop up any walls that need extra support. Plates are attached to holes drilled into the wall, and steel beams are attached to the plates.
Another effective repair option is to attach helical piers to the footers that prop up the foundation. If you decide to go this route, your basement experts will use specialized equipment to dig into the ground until they reach stable soil. The piers (long shafts) will be attached to the footer via plates and brackets. This supports the foundation and keeps it from additional shifting.
Acculevel Repairs Shearing
At Acculevel, we know that shearing is only a symptom of a cause. We are more than happy to fix the cracks, but we recommend letting us check out your foundation and basement to find the cause of the cracking so we can repair that, too. Our goal is to provide homeowners with a trusted service that prevents future water problems. Acculevel has been in the business of foundation and basement repair since 1996. We service the Midwest, so if you live in the area and would like us to take a look at your shearing or waterproofing issues, please contact us at (866) 669-3349 or email us at [email protected].