How to DIY repair a crack in your foundation wall in Winnipeg?
What do I need to DIY excavate?
Sometimes all you need to do is excavate around the top of the problem area, stopping the water from coming in at the entry point is always worth a try.
You will need a shovel. You will need a trowel. A 2” flat masonry hand trowel, a chipping hammer or “ripping” hammer. Air chisel or simple hammer and chisel if you’re really old school. Masonry glue, it doesn’t matter what kind, it could even be wood glue, just add some glue for better and stronger repairs. Glue makes stronger grout stick better. It really does. It’s amazing. ALWAYS use glue during masonry repairs. Spread some tarps around the area to keep clean up simple and your ready to go!
Jump on the shovel. Stick it in the ground and step on it while wiggling the handle to get it down into the ground. Toss the contents onto the tarp. Keep going until you’re a good two feet down. Widen it out so you can sit down while you repair the wall.
You are now ready to DIY foundation repair!
Step 1- excavate
Step 2- chip and patch
Step 3- asphalt emulsion
Step 4- backfill
Step 5-clean up
Step 1- Excavate! The first thing you have to do is dig it out, dig it down to a comfortable depth and width in order to get in and use an 18oz masonry chipping hammer. About 1 foot on either side of the crack and 2 feet down is a good depth to DIY a small problem area. You only need enough to area to swing a hammer and get out comfortably and do a bit of hand repairs.
Step 2- Chip and Patch! After your digging is done, don your personal protective safety glasses and put on your gloves. Clean the wall with a scraper or wire brush, get the hammer and hit the crack from top to bottom until the crack is 1/8th of an inch or 2mm wide. The reason for this is for the mortar to stick inside uniformly, the mortar does not stick well to flat surfaces, this way penetration is almost always guaranteed.
Next you will need something called hydraulic non-shrink grout. The secret is that it does not shrink when it dries, you don’t want it to shrink when it dries or it will defeat all your efforts. Take a trowel and large pail and water and mix it about two scoops, for larger cracks use more. Mix to a silly putty like texture. You don’t want it dripping and drooping like soft ice cream. Make a weak masonry glue mix with water, this is to put on the crack, any two masonry surfaces bond better when wet.
Apply the glue mixture directly to the crack with a brush and commence pasting the grout into the crack using the trowel. Using the underside of the trowel is the secret to a good patch. Take golf ball sized chunk of grout and put it in your palm, then using the trowel, take the slice onto the underside. Hold it up to the bottom of the crack and spread it like peanut butter upwards holding it steady and evenly as your stroke upwards. A thin ¼ inch or 3mm thickness of grout is desirable and about the width of the 2 inches wide, 1 inch on either side of the chipped out crack.
Repeat the process all the way up to the top on your first pass. Clean it up a little on the sides. They make very good premixes, very fast setting. Its best to wait until dry, using regular grout, could be 24 hrs depending on the weather.
Experiment on some out of the way area applying the grout, play with the slump by adding water to make it softer and more pliable. It should be thick enough not to run down or slag off the repair. ALWAYS start from the bottom and slather upwards working against gravity for best results.
Step 3- Asphalt Emulsion! When dry, you want to clean the area completely with a wire brush. Clean the grout edges of the repair. Simply rubbing it with a wire brush should remove any protruding edges. Apply the asphalt emulsion to the area of repair with gloves or scraper.
Why asphalt emulsion and not just simple tar or foundation coating? The emulsion stretches. Further settling will cause new cracking, the crack is already there, this adds a further layer of protection to the repair.
Step 4- Backfill! Cover it with plastic and commence backfilling. The plastic helps protect the whole area during backfilling and also acts as a barrier to further moisture penetration. Stomp with boots so you get it all back in while you’re filling the hole.