Last time we talked about exercises in prevention and today we will build upon that. While it is pretty much impossible to do something about the nature of the soil we live upon, which as we have previously mentioned, is the main culprit of foundation damage in our state, there are things (and services) that we can lean on to take further care of our foundation, and as a result, our house.
But before getting into it, we cannot overstate that, if you have suspicions of foundation damage, you should definitely call for an evaluation. If the foundation is damaged then you should repair it as soon as possible, before the problem gets any worse. If the foundation is sound then you can breathe at ease for the moment. Yet, regardless of the results of the inspection you have to be on the lookout for potential causes of future damage.
The one thing to keep in mind is that you have to keep the soil from getting too moist. So the first thing you can do is to periodically check your soil moisture levels. On our previous post we discussed how you can do this.
Now you have to look for any situation that may lead into the soil beneath your home being saturated with water. A simple walk around the house will inform you of this potential situations. The good news is that most of this problems can be solved through different additional services.
The first thing to check is if there are any water and sewer pipes broken. An evaluation by a licensed plumber will shed some light into this. If the house has a pier and beam foundation then access should be easier, but if it is a slab on grade foundation then the only two ways to get to it is by breaking the slab at the location of the leak or by tunneling through the side of the house. Regardless of the type of foundation, this situation must be addressed immediately as broken pipes will cause saturation of the water in no time, which in turn will expand the soil and start pushing against your foundation.
The next thing to look out for as standing water around your home. This can be caused by gutter downspouts or negative slopes. There are quite a few different services that can help you deal with standing water, so let’s have a quick look:
Area drains. These are common for houses with extensive landscaping and they pretty much work just like the drains on kitchens and showers. The are made of a grate-covered underground catch basin, making sure to keep excess water from your yard and into the street drain. Now, like any other drain they can potentially clog, so you must make sure to keep them as clean as possible.
French drains. Also known as subsurface drains are trenches which contain a perforated pipe, which redirects the water away from the determined area. This are then filled with gravel or rock, giving an attractive finish to it from the surface while also being cost effective and long lasting.
Retaining walls. These are rigid walls used for supporting soil laterally in order to keep different levels on the two sides. These are designed to hold a mass of earth in place to prevent it from eroding while also managing water runoff helping keep the water away from your home and foundation.
Positive/negative slopes and water pumps. A few paragraphs ago we mentioned slopes. A negative slope will cause the water to flow towards your home and foundation and you definitely don’t want that to happen. To prevent this you need to make sure that the soil around your home is a the proper grade, which is at least 5% so the water will flow away from your house; this translates to approximately 6 inches for the first 10 feet. If this is not the case then a drainage system, much like the ones we discussed above, is one way to solve the problem. Otherwise the installation of a water pump will do the trick as this will pump the water way from your house and, through a series of pipes, send it to the street drain.
Root barriers. One other thing to take into account are large trees near your home. There are two potential ways they can cause problems, the first being lowering the moisture content in the soil, while the other is by pushing its roots into the house foundation. Trees over 10 feet away from the house should be ok, but if it is nearer than that then a root barrier is the ideal solution.
These are underground walls placed to block plant roots. This will keep the roots from reaching the foundation/piping while also preserving soil moisture around your foundation. Nowadays they are mostly made of plastic, given their resistance to cracking caused by soil movement and moisture. They generally extend down to a lower soil layer that is impenetrable by roots so the roots will not grow under the barrier.
Soaker hoses. Finally, if you have a garden the installation of a soaker hose might be ideal. Soaker hoses are a tool used in drip irrigation. This is a micro-irrigation system that will not only save water by allowing it to drop slowly into the soil, but will help in keeping a steady moisture level of the soil.
All these services are ideal investments that will help maintain the integrity of the foundation. And remember, ere at iFix we specialize in not only the actual repairing of the foundation, but in also providing any type of service that will help keep your foundation safe and sound, for the longest time.