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Foundation underpinning repair

Updated April 17, 2017

If a foundation is damaged, cracked, or unable to take the weight of the building above it, it can sink and move in the earth, causing serious structural damage to the building. One way of shoring up a foundation is to underpin it, which means increasing the strength of the existing foundation. This is a difficult and very dangerous task, and must only be carried out by an experienced contractor.

Cut a hole through the bottom of the wall you are shoring using your hammer and chisel. Make sure the hole is large enough to insert a needle beam through the wall horizontally. Make sure you use the jacks to support both ends of the beam to take the weight of the wall.

Excavate the earth under the wall section you have just removed with a shovel. Make sure you do not dig beneath the supporting jacks. Only dig deep enough to reach the base of your new foundation.

Install your new foundation using known data regarding the strength of the soil. This can be a micropile, but most often it is simply a case of filling the void you have just dug with concrete.

Slowly transfer the load of the cement wall to the new foundation by placing a jack between your new foundation and a steel plate, under the wall you are shoring.

Transfer the load of the wall away from the jack by inserting masonry wedges between your new foundation and the wall you are underpinning. Take away the jack and fill the space left behind with concrete.

Continue Steps 1-5 in an adjacent section of wall, and continue until the entire length of the wall you are shoring is underpinned.

Tip

Wait for each section of new concrete to cure before moving on to the next. This takes 28 days.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 solid concrete blocks
  • 3 adjustable jacks
  • Utility chisel and hammer
  • Needle beam
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Concrete blade (for the saw)
  • Shovel
  • Masonry wedges
  • Concrete
  • Concrete mixer
  • Steel plate, 6 inches by 4 feet
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About the Author

Ben Wakeling graduated from Coventry University in 2009 with an upper second class honours B.Sc. degree in construction management. Wakeling is also a freelance writer, and works for a number of businesses, such as Demand Studios, Suite 101 and Academic Knowledge.