Do you have a loved one’s monument that is crooked, tipping, sinking, or falling apart? Perhaps the foundation is crumbling or the ground has settled to a point where the stone is no longer standing straight or even has fallen over completely?
Over time, monuments age and wear, the ground moves and settles, and things tend to go awry and start looking a little sad, especially in the older sections of cemeteries. This is the point when we’ll have family members call us to see if we can help them bring the dignity back to their loved ones’ monuments and, most of the time, we can!
Continue reading this article to learn more about headstone repair and resetting.
How We Actually Reset Stones
The amount of work required to reset a stone can vary greatly from stone to stone depending on an assortment of variables. Typically, what we’ll need to do is to either re-seal the stone to the foundation, re-level the stone, or remove and replace the entire foundation.
It’s hard to tell exactly how much work is needed on a stone until we are able to actually go out and see it in person. Over the years, we’ve discovered that looks can be very deceiving and you truly never know what you’re dealing with until you start poking and digging into the ground around the stone.
Re-Sealing the Stone
Sometimes a stone will lose its seal and start to move around on its foundation. Once the seal is broken water is able to get between the stone and the foundation. If the foundation isn’t perfectly level or when the moisture between the stone and the foundation freezes, the stone will begin to slide around on the foundation.
To re-seal a stone we’ll have our setters go out to the stone, remove the stone from the foundation, clean the bottom of the stone and the foundation, and then reseal it to the foundation. We reseal it using the same process we use when we’re setting a brand new stone. To see how we set stones according to the highest industry standards, check out this post.
This is an example of a reset where we had to reseal the various pieces back down to each other and to the new foundation.
Re-Level the Stone
The earth beneath a monument is constantly moving and settling. Over time, this movement may have an effect on the stone and cause it to lean or tip in a certain direction. If this is happening and the foundation is still intact and in good shape, we’ll simply re-level the stone.
We’ll do this by using our tools to get under the foundation and lift it to a level position. While it’s level, we’ll use packed sand to backfill under the foundation. We’ll double check that the foundation and stone are level and then shore up the foundation to ensure it stays level.
This is an example of a reset that just needed to be re-leveled and resealed.
Replace the Foundation
If a stone’s foundation gets to the point where it’s crumbling and falling apart, then our only option will be to replace the foundation entirely. It’s not going to do any good to try to relevel a stone with a crumbling foundation. Attempting to do so might even cause more damage to the foundation!
Ideally, the stone will have a flat bottom, which means we’ll be able to simply remove the old foundation and set a new foundation in its place. The new foundation will be about four inches of concrete with a concrete pre-cast foundation floated on top. The stone will then be sealed to the pre-cast, just like our normal setting procedure.
This is an example of a reset where the stone had a flat bottom.
If the stone does not have a flat bottom, which is common on older stones, we won’t be able to use a pre-cast foundation. Instead, we’ll need to set the stone in a freshly poured concrete wash. This takes a more effort and skill, but our setters know what they’re doing and will make it look beautiful (and level) again!
This is an example of a reset where the stone had a rough bottom and had to be set in a wash.
Now that we’ve gone over the methods we typically use for resetting stones, here are some important considerations that we will need to consider before we are able to give you an estimate regarding price and time-frame. Again, resets are very hard to judge without seeing the stone in person, so, if you’re looking for some work to be done, please give us a call!
Granite or Marble
Marble is typically much softer than granite. This is an important aspect to consider as there are instances in which we will not be able to remove a marble stone from its foundation, especially older marble stones set directly in a wash of wet concrete. The marble is to “breakable” to try to chip off the concrete that has adhered to it. In this case, we’ll have to go about resetting a marble monument differently than a granite one.
Granite, on the other hand, is much stronger and able to withstand just about anything.
Flat or Rough Bottom (Age of Stone)
Whether or not a stone has a rough bottom or flat bottom plays a large role in the effort required to replace a foundation. The older a stone is, the more likely it is to have a rough bottom, which requires a much more labor-intensive process to reset on a new foundation.
How Big is the Existing Foundation
The biggest unknown we face when replacing a foundation is what we’re going to run into once we start digging. There have been times where the concrete foundation has been absolutely massive compared to the stone sitting on it. For some reason, when foundations were being dug and poured in the past they would dig them huge and fill them with a mixture of concrete, rock, and other random metal and junk.
Sometimes we’ll be able to get the old foundation out using only manpower and other times we’ll have to bring out the jackhammers and boom trucks to get the job done.
How Big is the Stone
The bigger the stone the more work it will take to do any of the jobs mentioned above. A full foundation replacement on a small marker can be done in a half an hour, but that same job on a 5-foot monument can take a few hours or more, depending on the other variables involved.
Small or Big Resetting Project? Give us a Call!
Whether you are an individual thinking about straightening your grandparent’s stone or a cemetery board wanting to straighten an entire section of your cemetery, we would be honored to chat with you about the work you are looking to do!
Fixing a monument brings it back to life to tell the stories of those it is memorializing. We love to do this work and look forward to working with you to bring your stones back to life!