Wall Damage From Foundation Movement: What Can You Do About It?

2 Nov, 2023

Unsightly cracks in your walls can be more than just a cosmetic problem. It’s essential to understand the cause of the issues, as many times, it must be eliminated to ensure the cracks don’t return after being repaired. So, what happens when wall damage is caused by foundation movement?

cracked old concrete wall repair

Foundation movement can cause problems as small as hairline cracks in your walls and ceilings and as massive as structural support problems leading to sagging ceilings or leaning walls. When you identify foundation movement as the problem behind your wall damage, taking action to prevent further damage and rectify the issue will save you money in the long run. As a Sydney plasterer, Paul often repair walls and ceilings that have been adversely affected by foundation movement, but before we start repairing the interior walls, the problem that cause the issue needs to be addressed first. First, you’ll need to have the foundation addressed. If you skip this step, repairing the wall will waste time and money. Once the foundation problems are identified and remedied, you can call a reliable plasterer for wall repair.

This article explores steps you can take when you think you may have foundation movement that has led to issues in your walls and ceilings. 

Have the foundation assessed

You should start by having your foundation evaluated. You’ll need to know how extensive the movement was, which can also be indicated by the severity of the wall damage. The greater the damage, the more movement has occurred, and the greater the need for foundation repairs.

If your home is on stumps, you’ll likely need to go through the re-levelling process. Over time, your foundation may have become unlevelled due to several reasons. Natural wear and tear can take its toll, while soil reactivity can cause structural movement. Additionally, too much moisture can lead to rot if your stumps are timber. This results in the stumps sinking, moving or settling. 

With the re-levelling process, your home’s foundation will be lifted with hydraulic jacks so that the stumps can be repositioned where they need to be to provide the correct support for the structure. The purpose of this process is to adjust the home’s level, leading to even distribution of weight amongst the stumps. Some houses are built on adjustable stumps, which means a quicker, less expensive re levelling process than if the stumps are traditional timber or concrete.  

The re-levelling process is a bit different when you have a concrete slab foundation. The surrounds of the house will be dug up to access the slab and the concrete pilings underneath the slab, then using a hydraulic jack, the pilings are pushed further into the soil and new ones placed on top, this process is repeated until the jack cannot push the piling any further below the earth. Alternatively,  depending on the severity and the company you hire to do this job, they may access the foundation through floor jacking, small holes are drilled into the concrete where it is sinking. Then, a special releveling polymer is injected through the holes to stabilise the soil beneath the slab. As the soil becomes stabilised, the concrete is re-levelled.

There may be cases where the cost to repair the foundation is beyond what the homeowner is able to afford, this leaves the option to not address the problem. By making an informed decision after having their foundation assessed, a homeowner is choosing to invest in the aesthetic repairs of a place, knowing that the problem will likely reoccur and that the cause is not being addressed and may get worse. Some situations where this is the case could be if someone is renting their home out, with plans to do major renovations or demolition in the future, therefore simply addressing the cracks is what is required to make the property rentable. 

Some properties require drainage to be fixed to address shifting foundations, this could be as simple as addressing gutter problems or changing the slope of the soil near the foundations of the house, because water causes movement in soil therefore swelling or contracting in the soil beneath the slab or stumps leading to movement. By addressing drainage, the escalation of the problem can be significantly reduced. 

Hire a plasterer to repair the wall damage

Once the foundation is level or you decide to not do anything about it, then it is time to find a reliable, skilled and experienced plasterer to repair the wall or ceiling damage if you want it to look like it was never there. The level of damage will determine the course of action they take when completing the repairs. Extensive foundation movement could result in severe damage that requires entire plasterboard panels to be replaced.

They’ll evaluate the damage and decide which option will be best suited to eliminating all signs of damage from your walls. When you hire a plasterer with a history of delivering excellence, you’ll get smoothly flowing plaster that shows no signs of damage or repairs.

ceiling gyprock repair in Manly NSW

Plaster repair is not for the faint of heart or those not fully trained in it. If an entire section needs to be replaced, you’ll definitely want a professional on the job. This will ensure all your joins are nice and clean and the walls flow smoothly from the old plaster to the new. Once they’re done with the plaster repair, your wall will be ready for new decor or a coat of your favourite paint colour.

Don’t wait until foundation movement is causing major damage

Foundation movement starts with more minor issues like cosmetic wall damage. While unsightly, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. However, it’s a surefire sign that you’re on the way to structural problems if you don’t address your foundation or drainage.

Once those repairs are out of the way, you can focus on plaster repairs. With your foundation re-levelled, the wall damage isn’t likely to return once repaired. Like with many other repairs, eliminating the cause of the problem in this situation is essential to ensure long-lasting results.

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