Foundation Mudjacking Done Right
LESLIE: Robert in Alabama listens to The Money Pit on WRJM and you have a question about mudjacking. What can we do for you?
ROBERT: Well, when I was in California, before I moved here, I had some specific applications but … and because I wanted to use it there, I wanted to find out more about how to find someone who does it and who regulates it and whether there are any conventions where you can kind of learn about it where they might go.
TOM: Now, is there a specific problem that you’re having with your house that’s causing you to investigate this?
ROBERT: Well, I made the mistake of digging underneath a footing, one time. And the city told me, “Okay, you’ve got to bring the footing down to the “underskirt girth” and somehow seal in the dirt on the inside.” And I used some plastic things to push the dirt up underneath the house and then made the footing sound. But there was still a void in there; I knew there was a void. And I wondered if I should drill through the hole in my bathroom and pump some clay in to fill that void; because I knew that, even though the footing was sound, now, on the edge of the house that that void was (inaudible) out there.
TOM: Well, how much of an area of the house that is not supported are you concerned about?
ROBERT: Well, I think it would have been anywhere from 10 square feet at most.
TOM: That’s a pretty big area. Okay. Well, I mean mudjacking is a technique and, usually, what happens is the mudjacker will use like a sandy loam soil; sometimes there’s an epoxy mix. They basically get an access point and then use a pressurized delivery mechanism, like a hydraulic hose, to fill in the area and, hopefully, lift the house. Now, in your case, it sounds like you don’t need to lift it; you just need to stabilize it.
In terms of how do you find the right pro for that, well, there are specialists that do this around the country. If I had a serious structural problem and I was going to rely on this as a repair mechanism, I would probably hire a structural engineer that would specify exactly what kind of material needs to be used and where it needs to be placed and certify that it was supported properly.
And, if you have a building code dispute, that is probably one of the only ways that you will satisfy your code official is to have a design professional certify that the correct material was used and that it was installed properly. Because the contractor – unless he has that kind of design expertise and the license to go with it – his word, even though he may be an experienced pro, is just not going to cut it when it comes to code officials. Typically, you’re going to want to have an architect or an engineer specify that repair.
And also, if you ever decide to sell the house, if you have a report from that design pro, that can be very valuable if the issue ever comes up in the transaction in terms of …
LESLIE: Well, it gives you a pedigree on what’s exactly happened to maintain the stability of the house, so that when you do go to sell and the person says, “Hey, my inspectors noticed something weird,” you can say, “I have all the documentation and it was done properly to code.”
TOM: As opposed to, “This guy Joe squirted some stuff in there and it’s okay.” (laughing)
TOM: You know what I mean? So that’s the best way to do it. I commend you for trying to find the school of certified mudjackers. I’m not aware that that exists. But a design engineer, a structural engineer or an architect could specify that repair for you and make sure it’s done right. And those guys are probably going to know …
LESLIE: (overlapping) Well, and the structural engineer would know someone.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. They’re probably going to know who can … who can do that job in your area. I hope that helps.
ROBERT: It certainly does.
TOM: Okay, Robert. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.