Calling contractors to have your house repaired means footing huge bills — not to mention the inconvenience of having workmen in your house for days on end. And then there are time overruns, delay in supply of material and other conditions.
People with a little artistic leaning may just take the chisel and the trowel in their own hands and repair minor cracks (and in some cases, even major cracks) in their house foundations themselves. There are a surfeit of TV programs and books on the subject – and don’t even lets get started on the number of websites pertaining to house repair. However, before attempting to repair the house yourself, you must judge a few things.
Of primary importance is the availability of time and patience. For first timers, repairing foundations doesn’t come easy. The mortar might just not hold in the crack the first several dozen times. It requires tremendous patience, and like everything else, one proceeds to perfect this task with experience. You have to work out whether you can devote so many days from your calendar to complete the job. Be realistic in evaluating your skills; ascertain yourself whether you’ll be capable to finish the job. It does not work if you have to leave your mission midway and scan through the yellow pages for a professional to come and repair the mess you have done. For starters, that would only increase the cost manifold. You should also check whether all the required tools are available, whether you have no social occasions to celebrate in your house on those days and other such tiny factors.
At a minimum, repairing the house yourself will require arming yourself with cement, sand, mortar and tools like a trowel (both pointing and plastering), hammer and chisel, screwdriver, drills, wire-brush and such other sundry tools. For a small foundation crack, first chisel away part of the mortar. Use a wire-brush to wipe away the dust and dried mortar pieces. Prepare the mortar mixture using two parts of builder’s sand with one part of cement. Use builder’s grade cement for better adhesion. Prepare the mixture with minimal amount of water, taking care that there is perfect blending of the cement and the sand.
With a pointing trowel, embed the mixture into the crack. Slowly and gradually, work your way along the crack, taking all precaution that there are no loose air gaps left in the crack. Use a wooden flat surface to flatten out the mortar before it dries up. Once the filling is done, leave the filled crack for drying. This will need two or three sprinklings with water so that the mixture can expand and fill the crack well. When it is completely dry (after about 2 days), paint on the surface.
However, if it is a crack in a tile, then the entire tile needs to be replaced. The procedure is entirely different if it is a leakage crack. In that case, the tiles have to be replaced and a drain tile has to be fitted with a sump-pump attachment to draw out the water.
Before attempting a do-it-yourself repair job, it is prudent to estimate the cost with a professional. The seriousness of the crack is another issue. There are also other things to be considered, such as electric wiring (if they pass through that area) and plumbing.
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