Sometimes when a repair is complete our customers will say to us; “Thank you for repairing my foundation, and except maybe the grocery store, I hope we never have to see each other again.” While necessary to protect your home (and people love us), foundation repairs can be expensive, dirty, disruptive, and in general painful.
Foundation walls may bow, crack, or push in or out due to pressure from moisture and soil conditions. Clay in the soil expands and contracts. Over time this causes strain on foundation walls, and they will begin to fail. In many cases, this results in not just water in the basement. It can cause uneven, bowing, or sagging floors, doors/windows that stick, and cracks in your walls.
Here are some things you can do to avoid future foundation problems:
Make certain all drains, such as rain gutters, extended drainpipes, French drains, and other types of drainage are functioning correctly. If after a storm – or any time – there are puddles of water around your foundation, you can fill these spots with dirt/gravel after removing the water to help control the moisture. Water remaining idle can be damaging for many reasons, especially if these places are near your foundation.
Make sure rain gutters and downspouts are cleaned occasionally (at least twice a year), so they transport water away from a foundation. If they’re blocked, heavy rain will send cascades of water down the side of the house and straight into the ground around the foundation. It is a good idea to have the gutters screened to help prevent leaves from clogging the drainage.
Make sure the downspouts are draining at least 10 feet from your home. If necessary, extend the downspouts to ensure that they are effectively routing the water away from the foundation, not pouring it right next to your home. If you find downspout extensions unsightly (as you need to add pipes or other fixtures at several points around your home) or inconvenient (the pipes are a tripping hazard and make it more difficult to mow the area around the house), consider recessed downspout extensions or extensions that can be buried – they will keep water from the downspouts away from the foundation without interfering with the beauty or accessibility of your outdoor area.
Keep trees 8 to 10 feet away from your foundation. If you cannot, then water trees that are close to your house. One tree can absorb up to 150 gallons of water every day from the soil. If these trees are not watered enough, they will take any water that might be in the soils around your foundation, causing these soils to become dry and shrink.
Make sure the ground slopes away from your foundation. This will enable runoff water to flow away from your home instead of seeping into your foundation. Whatever you do, ensure that the ground does not slope toward your home. A good guideline is for the ground to slope away from a foundation about 6 inches for every 10 feet, horizontally.
Check for water pooling near your foundation. You can either do this after a substantial rain event or by spraying water with a hose at various points around your home. If pools of water do form, then remove the water and fill in those areas with dirt to keep it from happening again. There are several ways to divert surface water, including French Drains, Swales, Retaining Walls, Grading Improvements, and Gutter/Downspout Management.
Keep track of changes around your property. If a neighbor puts in landscaping or alters his or her drainage system, or if construction crews dig up underground cable or work on your street’s sewer system, your property’s drainage could be affected.
Ensure you have the proper drainage. Landscaping/gardens should have room for proper drainage and should be on slopes leading downwards so that the water will drain away from your foundation.
Consider landscaping on every side (if possible) of your foundation. If you have a garden on one side of your house, then you will probably end up watering that side more often, causing the soil on that side of the house to swell significantly, pushing against the foundation, and causing imbalance. Watering equally on all sides of your foundation is important to maintain moisture balance.
Also, make certain there are no cracks or other damages to the pipes which would prevent them from working correctly. If these drains become clogged with debris, water is trapped and will overflow directly beside the foundation, which can be damaging.
Inspect the inside walls of your home (pay special attention to the foundation walls) for cracks and deteriorating mortar joints. If you find any, take quick and efficient measures to professionally fix the problem.
Check the roof to make sure water isn’t trickling from the top down. Be sure to replace any broken roofing tiles and fix loose or misplaced ones as soon as you notice them.
Inspect the plumbing system on a regular basis and keep it in good condition
replace or repair damaged or rusty pipes and valves and protect them against the winter cold
Check for leaks under sinks, around toilets and bathtubs, behind appliances, etc. Look for dark spots where pipes might be dripping on floors, ceilings, or walls and immediately repair any leaks you find
Inspect the perimeter of your home. Obviously, you’ll want to look for signs of cracking or breakage. But you should also try to make sure that the siding, brick, wood, vinyl, or other exterior coverings are at least six inches above the bottom of the foundation. Many times, dirt and debris can shrink this clearance and provide a place for moisture to invade the top of your foundation. If possible, clear away the dirt or other material to improve the clearance — even if you can’t get six inches’ worth.
Voids under concrete slabs can be a highway for water to enter your home. They will eventually cause the concrete to crack. Consider filling this void with a Urethane injection. This will stop water from entering cracks, may be painted, is inexpensive and the repair is quick.
If you are considering having your failing foundation repaired you have choices. If you want the repair to last and want peace of mind from having 2 warranties, you really only have one choice, Spartan Ram Jack.