foundation repair advice?

A part of my foundation has been in need of repair for quite some time. I now have the opportunity to do this, but after looking at it today, I'm not sure I can handle the task. I really want to try it, but not sure how to proceed.
The damage I'm seeing isn't like the web info I keep coming across, so that's the reason for my uncertainty as to a repair course. I've decided to take some pictures and will explain each below.
The first damage I describe as a "foundation gap" of around 2-3" deep by nearly 36" long.
http://img241.imageshack.us/img241/3977/foundationgap.jpg To make matters worse, parts of the gap are quite deep and I can fit at least half of the yard stick in spots:
http://img35.imageshack.us/img35/1382/foundationgapdepth.jpg I can easily chisel and break parts of I guess what would be the cinderblock within the deep depth. Very easy to break and crumble. There is also some foam filler someone attempted to inject, but I have removed most of that. Lots of dirt and debris around this area. The big question is how do I repair this gap? Can I just fill in with cement and what type and how would I go about cleaning the entire area?
Lastly, there is a crack just beyond the gap:
http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/1713/foundationcrack.jpg I assume this could be filled in with hydraulic cement patching that I keep reading about.
There you have it. I can't find anything on repairing this type of foundation separation/ decay damage and all I keep running across are cracks or small to moderate sized holes, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Just to note, the separation only occurs at one end of my house and is about 36" long as I said. The rest of the foundation in other areas seems intact and not separated, plus there are no cracks. Any idea of the cause of this would be appreciated also so, if I can repair it, it doesn't happen again.
Thanks in advance, Bill Skype
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Just to add, this is a single floor home with no basement or crawl space. Bill

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It looks like what you've pictured there is a straight concrete "slab" with no support or footings. Some homes are built on a slab only . [See "Post tensioned slab] but yours doesn't look like that. The pictures look like a 'plain ol' slab w/o any perimeter support. Like someone said: more details and pictures that show a lot more (ZOOM back) needed.
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Rudy,
Thanks, at request, I took a couple more images:
http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/9882/lightedgapinterior.jpg
The above is a lit up version of inside the gap.
And:
http://img132.imageshack.us/img132/7977/normalzoomedoutfoundati.jpg
This is a zoomed out view of a normal part of the foundation. It is about 8" high.
Bill

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Bill-
What Rudy & aem both said.......
WAY zoomed out photos are needed, to provide context. Imagine the guys in this newsgroup have never seen your house....closeups are good but not with context. The photos you take & post have to substitute for being "on-site".
While most of your photos give good close-up information.....there appears to not be "zoomed out" and various stages of "zoomed in" of the same foundation location
Compose and post the photos necessary to understand this "elephant" that we've never seen in person.......we need your photos to tell the whole story.
Get rake / broom & remove the extraneous / unimportant debris from the ground in the photos.
cheers Bob
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I don't know that any amount and quality of pictures will help with this diagnosis. Eyeballs on the situation - paid knowledgeable eyeballs - is the only way to figure out for sure what is going on.
That being said, let's talk theoretical situations for a bit. The soil has subsided substantially. A fair bit of soil had to go somewhere, so there are probably two major scenarios that would cause such a situation.
The first would be improper subgrade preparations. Either there was organic matter that rotted and compressed, or the soil was disturbed during excavation and not properly compacted before the slab was poured. If the gap is no longer increasing in size, mud jacking would probably take care of the problem.
The other scenario would be flowing water washing away the soil. That could come from improper drainage around the house, an underground stream, or a leak in a water/sewer pipe under the slab. If there is a bathroom near the gap that would increase the odds that it were a pipe leaking. To fix this sort of problem you have to determine where the water is coming from and where the soil is going. Mud jacking may of may not take care of the problem.
It is not a good situation and the OP's comment that the foundation has been in need of repair for quite some time scares me. Hire a pro and fix it.
R
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wrote:

"I don't know that any amount and quality of pictures will help with this diagnosis. Eyeballs on the situation - paid knowledgeable eyeballs - is the only way to figure out for sure what is going on."
"That being said, let's talk theoretical situations for a bit. The soil has subsided substantially. A fair bit of soil had to go somewhere, so there are probably two major scenarios that would cause such a situation."
The first would be improper subgrade preparations. Either there was organic matter that rotted and compressed, or the soil was disturbed during excavation and not properly compacted before the slab was poured. If the gap is no longer increasing in size, mud jacking would probably take care of the problem.
The other scenario would be flowing water washing away the soil. That could come from improper drainage around the house, an underground stream, or a leak in a water/sewer pipe under the slab. If there is a bathroom near the gap that would increase the odds that it were a pipe leaking. To fix this sort of problem you have to determine where the water is coming from and where the soil is going. Mud jacking may of may not take care of the problem.
It is not a good situation and the OP's comment that the foundation has been in need of repair for quite some time scares me. Hire a pro and fix it."
Thanks, I have been told before that the cause was soil erosion from under the foundation combined with poor drainage. Please see my response to Bob for some additonal photos I added.
Bill
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Bill, I saw them. The stuff I'm seeing you can take care of fairly easily and mostly by yourself.
You have gutter problems as evidenced by the peeling paint on the right side of the door. The gutter is obviously blocked with leaves and overflowing. You need to clean that gutter and install some screens to keep the bulk of the leaves out of it. While you are up there check to see the condition of the fascia - it is probably that you have some rotten wood fascia boards.
You are right that the concrete walk is sloping in the wrong direction. It is difficult to raise the existing concrete walk and add dirt underneath it - it's much easier to either get some help to move it out of the way so you can fix the grade or to bust up the concrete back to a logical break point and replace it with some pavers. If the budget is really tight, you could use the broken concrete pieces and set them as individual "stones" - kind of like a mosaic.
Putting a concrete topping on top of the existing walk concrete and filling in the gap under the house with concrete could also work. The first thing you want to do is to fill in that gap under the house slab. Pounding dirt and gravel into the hole with a lump hammer would help if you have access, but the walk slab might be in your way.
You also should investigate digging a trench and installing some drainage pipe - it looks like the grade level drops off to the right of the house, so you'd have the far end of the drainage pipe running to daylight. The pipe would pick up the discharge from the end of the downspout and you could have a surface drain right next to the low point of the concrete slab by the door. That will help give the water an easy out instead of pooling next to the door.
While I'm spending your time and money, you should also take care of the stuff growing by the house. The plant growing by the hose has to go, and you should cut back the stuff along the foundation on the right side of the house (and anywhere else you have stuff growing right up against the house). You may have other problems over there that the plants are hiding. The plants also keep the area from drying out and make it attractive to carpenter ants and termites. You should be able to see the edge of the concrete house slab all the way around the house.
R
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Bill-
What Rudy & aem both said.......
WAY zoomed out photos are needed, to provide context. Imagine the guys in this newsgroup have never seen your house....closeups are good but not with context. The photos you take & post have to substitute for being "on-site".
While most of your photos give good close-up information.....there appears to not be "zoomed out" and various stages of "zoomed in" of the same foundation location
Compose and post the photos necessary to understand this "elephant" that we've never seen in person.......we need your photos to tell the whole story.
Get rake / broom & remove the extraneous / unimportant debris from the ground in the photos.
cheers Bob
Thanks, Bob, and here you go:
http://img32.imageshack.us/img32/9626/s6300325j.jpg
The concrete pads you see in front are not attached and were added later. Note the downspout on the right. One observation I have noted is that the pad in front of the door actually sinks towards it. Perhaps when it rains, the water has been flowing directly towards the foundation.
Another image:
http://img191.imageshack.us/img191/9992/s6300324.jpg
I've been told that this is the result of soil erosion from under the foundation and dirt needs to be compacted into the gap. I turned here because I wasn't sure this was the correct course of action, plus the cinder blocks within the gap have decayed around the exposed gap area.
Unfortunately, I am on a limited budget. I thought if I could repair this myself, it would be worthwhile. Although the pad seems to angle towards the foundation instead away from it, I wonder if there was any way I could still direct the water away and force it towards where the gutter drains. I would not be able to lift the pad myself.
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Bill Skype wrote:

Good closeups, but we need some wider shots to understand what sort of foundation you have. Is it just concrete/stone sleepers on packed dirt? Are there piers that actually hold the house up, and the visible blocks are just skirting? What is holding up the visible blocks? What year was house built? Unless there is a slab floor inside, you have some sort of crawlspace, even if it is less than a foot tall. (Yeah, I've seen houses like that.) As to what causes the damage- some combination of settling of fill material, water flow, frost heave, and maybe animals digging.
I'd recommend calling a foundation repair/house leveling company for a site survey and an estimate. A cosmetic repair is pointless, and a real repair is likely to require equipment and skill sets well beyond DIY.
-- aem sends...
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Is that a pair of eyes, looking out?
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Just looking at it quickly id guess its been like that a long time as its full of mold and dirt, to get a bond it must be cleaned real-real well. Bleach will kill mold and Muriatic acid will clean and etch it, id powerwash it out and chip out anything loose. If house isnt settling anymore it isnt to serious. You need to dig out the area so you can get in there to work on it then mortar it closed, ive had cracks like that go to the bottom. Does it leak.
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ransley wrote:

see www.epoxyproducts.com/cellar4u.html for some basic info and perhaps an idea or two... At least a starting place....
paul oman
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Bill Skype wrote:

Okay. When you say "in need of repair," to which "need" do you refer?
Are you seeing symptoms of foundation distress, such as out of level, cracked sheetrock, doors or windows that won't close, dinner plates sliding off the table, etc.?
Or are your "needs" merely cosmetic?
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