Foundation Problems – the Best Defense is an Offense
Learn how to spot foundation problems. Get tips on how to address them as soon as they appear.
Foundation problems are one of the quickest ways to ruin a person’s day, as they can be costly and unpleasant. When the foundation already has an issue it is fairly easy to spot. Left unaddressed, even the smallest foundation problem can lead to more damage and much bigger and more expensive repairs down the road.
Foundation problems four most common warning signs:
- Foundation cracking, crumbling or compromised foundations
- Hairline fractures or cracks
- Cracks where the side is uneven
- Cracks that have opened up
- Crumbling or flaking concrete
- Water damage and shifting soil
Poor drainage is one of the leading causes of foundation problems. When the soil around the home rapidly expands (during wet seasons) it can push a foundation up (heaving) and then contracts (during dry seasons) resulting settlement, it can lead to excessive movement.
Watch the Foundation Problems Maintenance Plan Video
- Sloping floors and warped ceilings
Foundation problems can often become apparent in the form of sloping floors or warped ceilings. This is often caused by water pooling around the foundation and pushing the foundation upwards or by the soils drying out and causing the foundation to settle.
- Cracked, crumbling or buckling walls
Excessive movement (settling or heaving) is another cause of foundation problems. It’s most obvious symptoms appearing as cracks, buckling and crumbling in walls of homes and separations around windows. Moisture is another leading cause of unnatural settling.
Six Most Common Water Related Foundation Problems
Moisture is the root of all evil when it comes to foundation problems. Be proactive with water management. Protect your foundation from these moisture problems.
- Foundation Drainage
Provide proper drainage around your home. The ground should slope slightly away from the foundation. This allows the surface and subsurface water to flow away from your home instead of pooling near it. Pooling water causes soil to expand. When the soil expands and thrusts upward, it causes the foundation to move upward. “Heaving” is a common sign of poor drainage and occurs more in areas with clay soils.
- Roof Runoff
Roof runoff can cause a number or foundation problems if not properly directed. For example, runoff can pool around the foundation instead of draining away from it. There are several ways to solve potential roof runoff issues:
- Install an effective gutter system (pdf)
- Maintain your gutters to insure they are not leaking or clogged
- Route the downspout away from the foundation at least three feet to ensure the water is draining away from the home.
- Do not allow downspouts to discharge in gardens with borders that trap water.
Sewer lines are generally routed beneath the foundation. When a leak develops, the water flows under the foundation. If water lines run beneath a foundation, they can also pour water into the soil under a home. Water under a foundation creates all kinds of foundation issues. Consider getting a plumbing pressure test on your water lines and a static test on your sewers when you notice any of these issues:
- Wet patches in the carpet
- Tiny bubbles being released from floor crevices
- An abnormally high water bill
- Sloping doors or floors
- Foundation Maintenance
The soil at the perimeter of the foundation is exposed to more water evaporation than the interior, which can cause extra settlement around the perimeter. During dry periods, it is important to maintain a regular watering schedule. This helps maintain moisture levels and minimize movement caused by settlement. A soaker hose or a drip-line system should be installed around the foundation.
- Foundation Construction Related
Many moisture related foundation issues are directly related to the soil conditions when the slab was originally poured. If the soil was very dry when the slab was poured, the edges will absorb moisture from the rain, causing the soil to swell and push the edges of the foundation upwards. Proper foundation construction addresses these types of issues.
- Foundation Landscaping
Plants that have been planted too close to the foundation can cause numerous foundation problems. For example, tree roots extend outwards 2-3 times the height of the tree, so when the tree is planted too close to the home, the roots can get under the foundation. Roots can cause uneven settling of the foundation. Larger roots can also damage the plumbing, leading to leaks and heaves. Large shallow roots can even lift the foundation beam! If a mature tree is growing too close to your home, root barriers may be your best option.
No one wants to be stuck with unfortunate foundation issues. To avoid problems, make sure to keep an eye out for potential warning signs and keep up with routine maintenance. Most importantly, don’t forget to practice effective water management. After all, it is easier to prevent problems than to fix them.
About the Author
Frederick Marshall is the CEO of Advanced Foundation Repair, LP, a foundation repair company specializing in home repairs from the foundation up including foundation repair, foundation drainage, exterior foundation waterproofing, foundation irrigation, and plumbing services. Advanced Foundation Repair has specialized in foundation repair needs of Texas homeowners for over 100 years. Connect with him on Google+.