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esblair 02-20-2012 08:33 AM

Foundation crack on old milk barn. How to fix??
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Good morning,

I have an old cinderblock milk barn that I am trying to repair/remodel and have some questions about the foundation and how I need to repair it. I plan on finishing the inside of the building with sheetrock, replacing the windows/doors, etc. Other than the cracks in the foundation, the rest of the building is in good shape.

One of the corners has been washed out from erosion and the corner of the foundation has cracked and that corner of the building is leaning to the side. At the top itís apprx 2Ē. The walls are 7í so itís leaning apprx. 2 degrees.

I have a few questions:

1) Does the foundation need to be fixed? Is it possible to stop the runoff and seal the 2Ē cracks in the walls and proceed from there.

Is it possible to fix the walls w/o digging out the foundation and jacking it up and repouring concrete?

If I need to repair the foundation what is the best/simples way to go about it. Iíve never done this before, but Iíd like to do it myself if possible.

Is there anything else Iím missing?

Iíve attached some pictures. I can take more if more detail is required. Any advice is greatly appreciated.


Daniel Holzman 02-20-2012 09:31 AM

Let's start with the question of do you need to fix it. If you are not planning to use the building as occupied space, i.e. you are going to store things in it, I don't believe I would try to fix it. If you do plan to use the building as occupied space, then you are probably going to want to fix the underlying problem, as otherwise it could be a hazard.

As to fixing the problem. It is almost impossible to tell the exact cause of foundation issues without a site visit, as the photos and description almost never tell the whole story. In your case, there are cracks in the concrete block walls, and the slab has a large, displaced crack in it. This suggests foundation settlement. It is possible to check if the foundation has settled bv performing a careful instrument (level or laser) survey of the elevation of the slab and the block around the building.

If you have foundation settlement, and it certainly appears that you may, the fix is unfortunately not so simple. In general, you need to build a foundation on strong, relatively incompressible soil. If the building was constructed on soil prone to settlement, such as weak clay or silt, organic soil, or uncompacted soil, then you are likely to get differential settlement of the foundation, meaning part of the foundation settles more than another part, leading to cracking, out of plumb walls, and out of level floors. Repair of such a problem generally requires temporary support of the building in the area of the settlement, removal of the foundation, replacement of the unsuitable soil with proper structural fill, and replacement of the foundation. Generally not a DIY job unless you are experienced and have the appropriate tools.

My suggestion is to perform the very careful elevation survey first to see what is really going on. If you are not comfortable doing such a survey, hire an engineer or surveyor to do it. Interpretation of the results usually requires an experienced person like a structural engineer with foundation experience. Once you know the cause of the trouble, you can formulate a plan for repair, and decide if you can handle the work.

esblair 02-20-2012 12:34 PM

Thanks for the great reply. I'm starting to think that it's not worth putting a lot of time and money into.

Thanks again,
Scott Blair

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