Steps You Can Take to Prevent Foundation Problems

Steps You Can Take to Prevent Foundation Problems

Your foundation is literally what the rest of your house is built on, so keeping it in good condition is one of the basics of home maintenance. There are many things that can damage the foundation, such as excess water, or not enough water, intrusion by tree roots, and more. Here are four steps you can take to keep your home in good health and prevent foundation problems.

Step 1: Protect Your Foundation From Water

Water is perhaps the most insidious attacker of home foundations. Not only can water attack quietly while you’re not looking, but it can also damage the foundation from either the inside or the outside. Protect your foundation and head off foundation repairs by:

  • Making sure your gutters divert water 5-10 feet away from the house
  • Installing a basement waterproofing membrane
  • Repairing plumbing leaks immediately
  • Controlling basement moisture levels with sump pump installation and/or dehumidifiers
  • Making gravity work in your favor by creating a downhill grade away from your house so rain drains away easily

Step 2: Protect Your Foundation From Roots

Other things that can damage your foundation include tree roots and natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. You can’t prevent hurricanes, but you can use these tips to reduce the possibility of foundation damage from tree roots:

  • Avoid planting trees with notoriously strong, pushy roots.
  • Don’t plant any trees so close that the foundation is within the normal scope of their root network.
  • Make sure there are no leaks or other water sources near your foundation that would attract thirsty plant roots.
  • If you have a big tree nearby already, place a tree root barrier to keep it from drinking all the water under one side of your house, which can cause your foundation to settle unevenly.

Tree next to house foundation

Step 3: Get Proactive About Preventive Maintenance

Once you’ve set up your foundation for success, you’ll still need to provide occasional attention to make sure things are still in good shape. This includes preventive tasks such as:

  • Cleaning and inspecting gutters for blockage regularly
  • Keeping your lawn watered so plant roots won’t feel the need to pull water from beneath your foundation
  • Adding more compacted soil as necessary to keep the ground sloping away from your house on all sides
  • Keeping an eye out for trouble spots such as erosion or puddling near your house
  • Inspecting your plumbing regularly for drips and other leaks

Step 4: Inspect the Foundation

You should also keep an eye out for signs that your house’s foundation is changing. To do this, perform a DIY foundation inspection regularly and make notes of any changes you find. These changes could indicate a harmless degree of settling or could highlight a real problem.

Stairstep Cracks

You may even notice symptoms between inspections if the changes are severe. For example, if you notice cracks in the walls and floors of your house or doors and windows that don’t open and close as well as they used to, it’s a good time to call in a professional to take a look. You should also have a professional inspection if you find significant changes, such as horizontal or stairstep cracks or indications that the foundation wall is leaning or bulging.

If the inspector finds significant settling or other issues that put your foundation in danger of collapse, a full-on failure can still be headed off with a repair solution such as foundation piering, which can take the load off your foundation so it’s no longer under so much pressure.

With these four steps, you should be able to keep your foundation in good repair and stop any significant foundation damage before it takes hold.

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