Owning a home is part of what’s been called the “American Dream” and, for many people, it is a dream come true. There are a great many benefits to home ownership, such as living space, financial security and the ability to make the environment your own.
There are a few downsides to owning a home – routine maintenance inside and out, paying the bills and, of course, fixing stuff that breaks. Sometimes that’s no big deal: replace a light fixture or a broken window, repaint the kitchen or fix a sticking doorknob. Other times, well, it’s those other times can drive homeowners crazy and put a big dent in their bank accounts.
Not surprisingly, when a home suffers structural foundation damage it can fall into the latter category in a hurry, particularly when the repairs involve rebuilding foundation walls or underpinning houses. However, fixing foundation damage doesn’t always have to be costly; taking some preventive steps and knowing the early signs of damage can cut repair costs significantly.
It is true of foundation damage just as it is of most home repair problems – the best way to fix the damage is to prevent it from happening in the first place. As is the case with just about every basement and foundation problem, the culprit is water and one way to prevent foundation damage is to manage water outside the foundation by practicing proper yard drainage.
The key to preventing the oversaturation of soil around the foundation and lessen the pressure that comes with it is to keep surface water at least 10 feet away from the foundation so that it doesn’t soak in. Several ways to do this:
Keep Gutters Clean – keep rain gutters clear of leaves and debris so that water flows to the downspout and doesn’t spill over the edge
Extend Downspouts – Extend downspouts at least 10 feet so that concentrations of water aren’t just dumped at the corners of the house
Ensure Proper Grading – Eliminate any lawn grading that slopes toward the house and redo landscaping features that create “dams” to hold water inside the 10-foot zone
Eliminate Standing Water – Install drains or fill in low spots to avoid large amounts of standing water in the yard.
Of course, sometimes even the best preventive maintenance is no match for hydrostatic pressure in the earth or soil desiccation caused by drought and damage may occur anyway. Spotting damage in its earliest stages is the key to repairing it quickly and economically. Some things to look for:
Sticking Doors and Windows – When a foundation moves, the house moves with it and one of the first places it shows up is when doors and windows are hard to open or close
Cracks – Cracks in interior drywall are a very early sign, particularly those that emanate upward from the corners of doors and windows. On the outside, “stairstep” cracks in brick or stone faces are a dead giveaway.
Level and Plumb – When floors, either in the basement or above grade, seem out of level or walls out of plumb, this is a good sign that there’s been foundation damage.
The sooner these signs are spotted, the sooner a foundation repair professional can fix the damage, keeping it in check both structurally and financially. For example, a foundation wall that has shifted only slightly can be stabilized with carbon fiber strips; one that has moved several inches requires structural steel. Carbon fiber can be done much more quickly and economically.
When you see the signs of structural foundation damage, call a professional foundation repair contractor to assess the damage and create a plan of repair. At U.S. Waterproofing, our foundation repair exerts employ engineering data and state-of-the-art methods and materials to fix foundation damage quickly, conveniently and cost-effectively. Why not ask for a free consultation?
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