When was the last time you looked closely at your home’s foundation? If you can’t remember, then it’s time to go outside and check it out.
Foundation issues can affect both new and old homes and are usually caused by water that does not drain away from the house correctly due to a few common reasons. Learn how to spot foundation damage before it turns into an even bigger problem.
Common Reasons for Foundation Damage
- Overflowing Gutters
If your gutters were not properly calculated for the area and slope of your roof when they were installed, they might not be able to handle the amount of water that flows into them. So, that water will spill over the sides and pool around your foundation. Similarly, if your gutters are not well maintained or are old and need to be replaced, water can become backed up from leaves or flow freely out between the joints and cracks and again pool around your foundation.
- Incorrect Downspouts
If your downspouts, the pipes that carry rainwater from the gutters down the side of your house and away from the foundation, are not appropriately extended away from your house, they will deposit water around your foundation. Downspouts also prevent soil erosion around your home. The soil surrounding your house supports your foundation, and when it is removed, there is more stress on the building materials, which can cause structural damage.
- Climate Changes
Hot and dry weather causes the soil around your foundation to shrink and pull away from the house. In turn, this can cause your foundation to move and fracture and eventually become uneven. In the winter, these cracks can fill with water that freezes and expands, only making the issue worse. Keep an eye on the soil around your house during times of high heat and low rainfall to ensure that it isn’t completely dehydrated.
How to Avoid Foundation Damage
- Maintain Your Gutters
Gutters are your home’s most important defense against pooling water around your foundation. In the fall and spring, you should check your gutters and remove any debris that has been collected inside them. Flush them out with a garden hose and make sure the water is moving away from your house. Repair any minor leaks and tighten gutters to the fascia board if needed. If your gutters have large cracks, are sagging, or are over 30 years old, it’s probably time to replace them.
- Keep Soil Moist
It may seem counterintuitive as we have made many points about keeping water away from the house. However, it is a balance. The soil around your home helps to support the foundation, and when it shrinks from drying out, that support is lost, and the foundation can become stressed. To keep the soil around your home at the proper moisture level, consider installing a sprinkler system or watering around the house when there are low rain levels and high temperatures in your area.
- Plant Away from the House
Plant bushes and trees that have longer roots away from the house. Not only do they pull out much of the moisture from the soil, but the roots can also expand and push into the area around your foundation. However, a great alternative is a flowerbed with low-water flowers with a few inches of mulch. That way, you can still landscape while keeping the soil hydrated and temperature regulated.
What to Do if You See Foundation Damage
As with most problems around your house, the earlier you spot the signs of foundation damage, the better. As soon as you see any cracks, leaks, or signs of settling, call a company that specializes in foundation repair immediately. Most contractors are neither the expertise nor the specialized tools to evaluate and repair foundation issues. The longer the problem is allowed to continue, the more it will cost to repair. According to Home Advisor, the average price for fixing cracks can be below $1,000. But, if you allow cracks to turn into more significant issues and your foundation needs to be stabilized, you will be paying upwards of $12,000. And, depending on the type of foundation your home has and how much area the damage covers, the cost could be even higher.
Now that you know the signs of foundation damage, go take a look around the outside of your house. The earlier you catch the problem, the easier and less expensive it will be to fix.