Basement foundation damage is inevitable as homes age and settle. The process of basement foundation repair should begin with an assessment of the cause and severity of the damage. If possible, fix the source of the damage before fixing the damage itself. Once the source of the damage has been fixed, either repair the damage yourself if it is minor, or consult and hire a licensed contractor for more serious repairs.
One common cause of damage is simple aging. Many older basement walls were built using stones or bricks held together with mortar. This mortar eventually breaks down, and these older walls begin to sag and leak. If an old stone or brick basement wall is structurally sound, basement foundation repair is fairly simple, as the mortar can be chipped out and replaced using a tuck-pointing trowel. If an old brick or stone wall is sagging, it may need to be either replaced or tied into a new concrete foundation by a contractor. Situations in which the load-bearing portions of a basement wall are beginning to sag or crumble are especially serious, and this type of basement foundation repair should definitely be referred to a contractor.
Water can often be both a cause and a symptom of foundation damage. If water is building up in a basement, examine the wall for cracks. If cracks are present, they need to be repaired, especially in colder climates, because freezing and thawing will further damage the foundation. Small cracks can be repaired using a kit, which will include sealers, and sometimes, for larger cracks, hydraulic cement, which will expand and put pressure on each side of the crack so that no new water will be able to flow in.
Large cracks in the wall of a basement will require the assistance of a contractor specializing in basement foundation repair, as they may indicate structural damage to the load-bearing elements of a foundation. Cracks in the floor of a basement are often less critical because most basement floors are not part of the load-bearing foundation of a home. Small cracks in the floor can be patched, and mudjacking can be used to bring a basement floor back to level.
Seepage through a basement wall is another source of water in a basement and can be a sign that the waterproof coating on the exterior of the basement was improperly applied or has worn off and needs to be replaced. Basement foundation repair in this case begins by regrading the earth outside the basement, to ensure that water flows away. Sealant can then be reapplied to the exterior, or in mild cases of seepage, waterproofing paint can be used on the interior of a basement.