A failing foundation can be a precursor to a whole range of structural issues within a home or structure. Changing soil conditions due to weather and moisture, along with poor quality construction or aging materials can all contribute to foundation failure. When it comes to foundation repair, there are two methods to be utilized: mudjacking or polyurethane foam lifting.
Mudjacking is a process in which a mixture of sand, water and concrete is mixed together and pumped underneath a sinking slab of concrete to raise it back to its original position. Poly lifting, while similar in process, differs in that it entails the use of polyurethane foam, which has a lower pressure per square inch (PSI) and expands to fill the void underneath.
There is an ongoing debate over which method is “best”, and certain circumstances can lead one option to be better than the other. While poly lifting has been around for a few decades, mudjacking goes back all the way to the early 1900’s and is a prime example of a tried-and-true process. A major disadvantage of poly foam lifting is that it can be 4 – 5 times more expensive than traditional mudjacking, and the material can break down after 10 – 12 years. Additionally, the EPA has issued warnings stating that polyurethane foam contains hazardous chemicals, and studies have shown that polyurethane foam contains toluene diisocyanate and methylene diphenyldiisocyanate which may cause cancer.
Another disadvantage to foam leveling is that because it expands so quickly (around 15 – 20 minutes after injection), it often doesn’t fill the surrounding voids as effectively as mudjacking can. In such cases, it may only mask the problem and lead to worsening settlement issues overtime. Because the slurry used in mudjacking requires one to several days to set, it often guarantees a better distribution of material and a longer lasting fix. Since larger drilling holes are required to pump the slurry mixture used in mudjacking, some may argue that it is more invasive, however more holes means more even distribution of material and a longer lasting solution.
Poly foam lifting has only been around for a short time, but is already being implemented on a vast scale without full knowledge of potentially harmful chemicals it can harbor. While there are some circumstances that favor a foam injection, such as when continued use of the affected area is required, mudjacking is a preferred method in the majority of cases, especially when it comes to raising driveways and garage floors.
So the next time your home is experiencing foundation issues that may require concrete lifting, consider what is best for your needs. While some contractors may view polyurethane foam as the latest and greatest in foundation repair, remember that there’s a reason mudjacking has been around for more than 60 years.