A Guide to Foundation Leveling Methods for Midwestern Homes

August 10, 2023

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Home foundations in the Midwest face unique challenges due to the region's extreme weather conditions and soil types. Over time, foundation problems like settling, cracking, and bowing can occur.

Foundation leveling methods refer to various techniques used to lift, stabilize, and realign sunken or uneven foundations on houses and other structures. Common methods include mudjacking, steel piers, concrete pilings, polyurethane foam injection, and shimming, which work by either pumping, pouring, driving, or inserting materials underneath the foundation to fill voids and raise it back into the proper position.

This guide will cover the most common techniques used for foundation leveling in Midwestern homes.

One of the Most Popular Foundation Leveling Methods is Mudjacking

Mudjacking, also known as slab jacking, is a popular and affordable foundation leveling method in the Midwest. This process involves pumping a slurry mixture of cement, mud, and sand underneath the concrete foundation to raise and level sinking areas. 

Holes are drilled into the foundation, and the slurry is pumped through until the sunken section is lifted back into place.

Mudjacking can lift settled areas up to 1 1/2 inches. It works well for foundations that have developed minor settling issues but are otherwise in good structural condition. Mudjacking provides an immediate fix and can stabilize foundations for years. Most jobs take 1-2 days to complete. Costs typically range from $1,500 to $3,000.

foundation leveling methods

Steel Piers

Steel piers, also called push piers, are especially effective at lifting and reinforcing bowed or sinking foundation walls. In this technique, hydraulic jacks are used to drive steel piers deep into the ground underneath the foundation until they reach bedrock or stable soil. The piers act as mini pylons to support and lift the foundation back to level.

Steel piers can lift foundations up to 36 inches and provide a permanent stabilizing solution. They work well for severely settled or unstable foundations. Installation takes 1-3 days and costs between $4,000 to $15,000. Steel piers require less invasive excavation than other methods.

Concrete Pilings

Concrete pilings are poured and set deep in the ground underneath the foundation. They act as sturdy columns to provide support and lifting power where needed. Pilings range from 12 to 24 inches wide and can be driven 25 to 60 feet into the ground until they hit bedrock.

Concrete pilings work for all foundation types and soils. They can lift foundations up to 36 inches and offer a permanent solution. Installation takes 1-2 weeks and costs $7,000 to $30,000. Extensive excavation is required, so this method works best during new foundation construction.

foundation leveling methods

Polyurethane Foam Injection

With polyurethane foam injection, expanding foam is pumped beneath slabs and other concrete foundation elements. As the foam cures and hardens, it expands and lifts the concrete back into place. Added benefits are stabilization, crack repair, and insulation.

Foam injection works best on foundations with minor settlement of 1 inch or less. It offers a light-duty solution at a lower cost of $500 to $1,500. Installation takes less than a day, which means minimal disruption to the home. However, results are temporary and multiple applications may be needed over time.

foam insulation on concrete foundation blocks

Shimming

Shims are sloped wooden wedges that are tapped under the foundation to fill gaps and provide lift in settled areas. Shimming offers a simple, low-cost temporary fix for minor settling under $1,000. However, it is a short-term solution that requires ongoing adjustments and maintenance every 1-2 years.

Conclusion

There are several quality foundation leveling options available for Midwestern homes. Which method works best depends on factors like the age of the home, foundation type and materials, the extent of settling, and budget. A professional can assess your unique situation and recommend the right solution for your home's needs. With periodic maintenance, a properly leveled foundation will provide a stable base that can last for decades.

About Lexington Foundation Repair Experts

Since 1997, Lexington Foundation Repair Experts have been servicing residential and commercial foundational needs. The company is fully bonded, licensed, and insured for customers' peace of mind. To schedule a zero-cost inspection and quote, please call (859) 955-1990.

FAQs

What is the best way to stabilize a foundation?

The best way to stabilize a foundation depends on the extent and cause of the problem, as well as the foundation type, soil conditions, and budget. For significant settling or foundation wall bowing, steel piers driven into the ground or concrete pilings poured deep into stable subsoil are often the most effective permanent solutions.

Can I level my foundation myself?

Leveling a foundation is not a do-it-yourself project for the average homeowner due to the complex techniques and equipment involved. While smaller settling issues can sometimes be addressed with shims or mudjacking kits, most foundation repairs, like installing steel piers, pilings, or foam injection, require professional equipment and expertise to be done safely and successfully.

How do you fix uneven foundation?

To fix an uneven foundation, the high and low areas need to be identified, and the amount of settlement measured so the proper leveling method can be determined. Some options for lifting and stabilizing sunken sections of the foundation include mudjacking, pressurized foam injection, steel piers driven beneath the footing, or concrete pilings poured deep into the ground below.

How do you stabilize an old house foundation?

To stabilize an old house foundation, a homeowner can have steel piers driven and sunk deep into the ground underneath sagging areas to shore them up and prevent further settlement. Another option is to have new concrete foundation walls poured inside the old crumbling ones to reinforce the base of the home.

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