Because the foundation supports everything in your home, it is one of the most important assets that you have. Unfortunately, many homeowners completely ignore their foundations — “out of sight and out of mind.”
This is a huge mistake since repairing a damaged foundation not only carries its own costs, but you’ll likely spend money correcting other issues throughout your home, including:
- Buckling walls
- Poorly fitting windows
- Stressed support beams
- Water damage (even in the attic)
- Electrical issues (closely related to water damage)
Some homeowners try to wait these problems out long enough to sell their properties. But trying to pass on these issues to the next homebuyer is unwise. According to a 2011 National Association of Realtors survey, nondisclosure lawsuits about unreported damage are incredibly common — and costly.
The best strategy is to take proactive steps to keep your foundation in optimal condition, regardless of how long you intend to stay in your current home. The following is a quick rundown of strategies for accomplishing this.
1. Fix Hairline Cracks ASAP
Given the weight and strain foundations undergo, the concrete slabs supporting your home will eventually develop cracks. This is inevitable.
However, if you can detect these cracks early enough, it’s possible to clean them out and fill them with epoxy glue. Wait too long, and you’ll have to bring in a professional foundation repair expert.
It’s best to check for hairline cracks after heavy rainfall or after rapid changes in outside temperatures.
2. Check for Water Damage
Arguably the biggest threat to your foundation is water damage, or rather, major fluctuations between dry spells and wet ones.
During drier seasons, it is important that you keep the foundation moist to prevent soil shrinkage and subterranean shifts. One of the best ways to do this is to install rock beds about 2 feet away from the foundation (all the way around the house). Doing so allows sprinkler and rainwater to soak deep into the soil.
However, you don’t want to overdo it. Future rainfall is unpredictable, and excessive water buildup is just as harmful as excessive drying. This is because soil can over-expand causing unnatural shifts below the foundation’s surface.
As a general rule, let nature be your guide. Water the surrounding landscape around your foundation just enough to keep your lawn and plants looking healthy.
3. Proper Drainage
Unnatural pooling around your foundation is another potential warning sign. In addition to rock beds (mentioned earlier), you’ll want to install downspouts and gutters that redirect water a minimum of five feet away from your home.
Equally important, the land surrounding your home should slope away at a 5 percent grade to prevent excessive water buildup. With some properties, this isn’t always possible. If that’s the case with your home, consider installing moisture barriers that can safely capture and store water runoff. These collection systems must be at least 5 feet deep in order to be effective.
4. Reduce Erosion
In areas with high rainfall (and steep slopes), erosion is a relatively common phenomenon. Although you can install a number of erosion control systems, one of the cheapest strategies is to plant shrubs and trees around your home. Their root systems can help keep loose soil in place — even after unusually heavy rainy seasons.
5. Check Your Home’s Plumbing Regularly
The majority of water-related issues are external (courtesy of Mother Nature). But don’t neglect your home’s internal plumbing — including sprinkler systems and septic tanks. Periodically check to make sure that all of the pipes in your home are in proper working order. At the first sign of any leaks, bring in a professional plumber ASAP.
Remember that Constant Monitoring Is Essential
Some homeowners wrongly believe that their insurance policies cover foundation repair. And the mistake is understandable given that many insurance providers market their policies as “all perils” contracts.
But when you read the fine print, you may be shocked to discover any number of exclusions, including:
- Subsidence and expansive soil (mentioned above)
- Sewage damage and surface water (also mentioned above)
- Landslides, mudslides and floods (i.e. really fast erosion, also mentioned above)
In other words, you’re often NOT covered for the causes of and solutions to foundation damage.
This is why the aforementioned steps coupled with year-round monitoring are so important. The extra time and money that you invest upfront could save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road.
For more serious repairs of a home you'd like to buy, or one you're living in now, you may be able to use the FHA 203k renovation mortgage to finance the work and mortgage together in one loan. Learn more at the button below with the 203k Survival Guide.
Author Bio: Brandon Cartee is the owner Foundation Repair Services. A full service specialty contracting that helps both home and business owners throughout North Carolina.