When it comes to your foundation, finding an expert you trust to answer your questions is crucial. Your foundation is an essential part of your home, and avoiding repairs can be costly in the long run. There are some common questions you should ask a foundation expert when you are looking for help. A true professional will know exactly how to answer them and find a way to help you.
Before finding the right foundation expert, the first thing to do is determine if there is a problem with your foundation. If you notice cracks in your basement walls or floors, water leaks, hard-to-open doors, and windows or bowing walls, contact a professional right away. Upon inspection, your foundation expert should know the answers to these questions.
What’s Causing My Foundation Problem?
The first step in finding a solution to your foundation issue is to find the cause. Here are some of the most common reasons for foundation problems and failure:
- Freeze/Thaw Cycles: If you live in a climate where there are likely to be freeze-thaw cycles, the water in the soil freezes and can cause extra pressure on the foundation, which causes the walls to move. That often happens when a lack of gravel is used around the foundation allowing the water to drain quickly and go out the pipe around the house.
- Improper Grade: Excess water can build up around the foundation without the proper grading. This issue can also occur if you fail to clean your gutters regularly. Improper grading can cause pressure on the foundation, especially when the freeze-thaw cycles happen.
- Poor Backfill Material: Depending on what was done to protect the exterior of the foundation during the building process may make it more susceptible to leaks and other problems.
- Poor Construction: Lack of experience and knowledge from the contractor can put your foundation at risk for further damage.
Upon inspection, your foundation expert will do a full examination of the interior and exterior of your home and yard. Contractors typically look at grade, drainage, cracks, and bowing on your exterior walls during the inspection. They may also look for cracks and crumbling concrete on your sidewalk.
A contractor will look at support beams and check for water damage. The inspection will also include a search for high-risk cracks. They may also check your windows and doors to see if they close easily.
How Can It Be Fixed?
Once your foundation expert has determined the cause of your problems, it is time to talk about solutions. Depending on the cause, there are many ways to repair a foundation. Sometimes walls need to be rebuilt, and the home is supported temporarily along the wall getting replaced so it can be excavated, demoed, and rebuilt with a new block. Sometimes hydraulic jacking (piering) can be done, where they excavate to the footer and attach to the footing and put piers down into the ground. That helps the footing to be lifted back to its correct height without having to demo the walls.
There is also bracing to support leaning or bowing walls when they are not too far gone. That helps stop and correct the bowing of a wall over time.
The main factors determining the right repair method are the severity of your foundation problem and the soil type around your home. Your foundation expert should be able to find the right solution for you.
What If I Just Leave It Alone?
Leaving a foundation problem untreated can come back to haunt you. A small crack or slight bow in the wall may not seem like a big deal. But, the longer you wait to fix it, the worse it will get. Untreated foundation problems can eventually lead to costly repairs or structural failure. It is always better to stay ahead of it before it’s a larger problem.
How Can I Prevent Further Foundation Problems?
The easiest and cheapest way to avoid costly foundation repairs is through preventive maintenance. While it may be hard to spot certain problems, knowing the warning signs is the first step. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, contact a professional right away for a preventative inspection. Often these inspections are free. So you can have peace of mind knowing your foundation is safe and if you have issues to address.
Along with preventative maintenance, there are things to do around the home to ensure your foundation is healthy. Ensure that water is properly draining away from your home. Check that the grade is falling away from your foundation and not towards it. Take soil out if it is close to your siding or higher than your siding. Avoid planting anything with deep root structures close to the foundation, and keep your gutters clean!
At Ray Arnold Masonry and General Contracting, we pride ourselves on being the foundation experts for over 50 years. If you have any questions about your foundation or need to schedule an inspection, contact us today.