Preventing Foundation Damage
One of the most important aspects of being a homeowner is maintaining the integrity of your home’s foundation. Poor soil conditions, improper construction, invasive tree roots, and an improperly installed pool are just a few of the many factors that can cause foundation damage. Water, on the other hand, causes the most damage.
The saturated soil expands and shifts when water collects around your house due to rain, snow, or burst pipes. As the pressure on the foundation walls increases, cracks and leaks form, allowing water to penetrate and cause electrical hazards, mold growth, and structural damage to the house.
Water damage to your foundation can cause cracking, weakening your foundation, jeopardizing your home’s safety, and resulting in costly repairs.
Here are a few tips for preventing damage to your home’s foundation.
Protect your Foundation From Tree Roots
Trees, vines, shrubs, and other plants hide the foundation’s appearance. Plants will also obstruct the flow of air around the foundation. Allow at least one foot between the foundation and the foliage. This is better for the plants as well as your foundation.
A tree that sends invasive roots toward your foundation damages it by sucking moisture from the soil underneath and around it. The ground sinks over time as tree roots absorb water. As a result, your foundation will shift, twist, crack, and settle. Since the soil on the side of the house nearest to the tree has dried out and sunk several inches, a house will frequently lean toward an invasive tree. Most of the time, removing a tree that is too near your house is the best thing you can do for your foundation.
Landscaping should always be graded to gently slope away from your home. A general rule of thumb is that the landscape should slope at least 6 inches for every 10 feet to keep water flowing away from your foundation rather than pooling near it or even running toward it. Because the ground can shift and settle over time, it’s critical to look for any low or sunken spots around the perimeter of your foundation and fill them in as needed.
Remove any vines that are growing on your foundation. They will cause moisture problems, which will lead to mold growth in addition to causing foundation damage.
Divert Rainwater Away from House with a Gutter System
Gutters are terrific for diverting rainwater away from a home’s foundation. Rain on the roof naturally spills next to the foundation, causing differential settling, hydrostatic pressure, and erosion.
Rain gutters that become clogged with debris will be unable to direct rainwater away from your home correctly. Every time it rains, water will be allowed to accumulate inside the gutters, eventually pouring over the sides and landing near your home’s foundation.
Cleaning your downspouts and gutters several times a year will keep them from overflowing and prevent water from entering your foundation. Install downspout extenders if your existing gutters and downspouts do not divert water far away from your house.
Install underground diverters if the downspouts are not adequately funneling water away from the foundation. Install the metal diverters, so the water flows into a storm drain or a low point in the yard far from your house.
Extend Downspouts Away from House
Even if your gutter system is clean and functioning correctly, if your home’s downspouts aren’t diverting the water far enough away from your home, you may experience water damage as a result of rain. Downspouts should divert water at least 10 feet from the foundation, and even in significant storms, water is kept from returning to your foundation. Suppose your downspouts aren’t currently emptying water at least 10 feet away from your house. In that case, the solution is usually as simple as purchasing downspout extensions that can carry water as far as you want away from your house.
A splash block is an excellent addition under the downspout to keep water flowing away from the house. The splash block must be angled away from the house and never towards it. It may also move during weather events, so you may consider installing a permanent one.
In Texas, Water Your Foundation
When there is no rain for an extended period, the ground around your foundation will dry out and shrink. The earth will expand too quickly after a drought, such as during a thunderstorm, which could upset your foundation and cause cracks. Although it may appear counterintuitive, regularly watering the soil around your home’s perimeter will keep it at the proper density.
To avoid this, water the soil around your home’s foundation regularly during the dry season to keep it moist enough to prevent shrinking. It is also a good idea to avoid planting trees near the house because they can absorb the soil’s moisture and cause the foundation to crack.
Some areas in Texas have experienced soil shrinkage of more than 15%. This has far-reaching consequences for a homeowner’s foundation watering schedule. You may need to water your foundation daily in these areas.
Preventing Foundation Water Damage
Improving drainage and diverting water away from the foundation will help prevent moisture and rainwater from seeping into the porous cement foundation. Here are a few suggestions for improving drainage around your foundation:
- Increase the slope of the ground. To divert water downward and away from the house, grade the lawn and change the foliage. Direct the water to a low point on the lawn to make a lovely rain garden. Within 10 feet of the foundation, the soil should slope at least 6 inches. If this is not the case, dense soil (preferably clay soil) must be added to the area to create proper grading and prevent moisture from accumulating beneath the foundation.
- Set up a French drain. A perforated drain is buried. It’s used to keep water away from your foundation. Because it is underground, the French drain will not detract from the appearance of your yard. Make a trench around the foundation, line it with gravel, and install a drain with perforations to drain the water. Cover the drain with gravel and then cover it with soil. Ensure that the trench has a 3-5 percent downslope so that water flows away from the foundation.
- Make a dry well. Installers dig a deep, large hole and fill it with gravel, which captures and diverts excess water away from your home. This is an excellent solution for diverting rainwater after heavy rain.
If the drainage around your foundation is poor or if your foundation has cracks or other damage, use more than one of the above-mentioned techniques.
A Sump Pump Can Help Protect Your Home’s Foundation
No matter how hard you try to keep water away from your foundation and home, groundwater will inevitably get the better of you and find its way in.
Protecting your foundation from the water inside your home is just as important as protecting it from the outside. A sump pump can quickly eliminate foundation damage caused by standing water. The pump is located on the basement floor and will continuously remove any groundwater that seeps into your home and floodwater.
Maintain existing sump pumps properly to ensure they are operational. Schedule a yearly inspection, contact a professional immediately to fix any problems, and keep dirt and debris out of the sump pit. The best way to avoid this is to clean the floor around the sump pit.
Heavy rain, flooding, and power outages will cause extensive damage to the foundation of your home. This disaster can be avoided by installing a backup, battery-powered sump pump. Like your primary pump, the battery-powered secondary pump should be inspected yearly to ensure it is ready when needed.
Protecting your foundation from the damage caused by excess water will save you money on future repairs.