Foundation issues typically creep up over time, unnoticed and right under foot. While foundation repairs need to happen as quickly as possible to prevent further damage from occurring, there are things you can begin to understand now before the issue worsens. One vital piece of information you can become aware of now is changes in soil are a huge reason your home’s foundation could shift or settle.
Soil erosion occurs when topsoil is washed away from groundwater or excessive rainwater and the soil underneath becomes exposed. If left like this, once the conditions dry up, the leftover soil will then crack and further settle due to the lack of moisture. Alternately, during the next downpour, the cracks in the coil create crevices for the new water to move through freely, creating the perfect conditions for more soil to get carried away. Over time, enough soil can get washed away that it begins to create a void underneath the foundation. Where there are voids under the foundation, there is not enough support to hold the foundation properly. Soil erosion will eventually lead to your home’s foundation either settling or sinking.
Soil expansion is more often found in denser soils like clay, notoriously found in the Greater Fort Worth area. Clay is known to swell up majorly during a downpour, soaking up the moisture like a sponge. The surface area of clay is so large that it creates the perfect spaces in between the clay molecules to absorb the most amount of water. (Hunker*) This, in turn, causes swelling in the soil, which over time can cause movement in your home’s foundation. Just as soon as the water dries up, the soil shrinks back down again, causing further movement in your home’s foundation.
Standing Water or Groundwater
Standing water is another way that water damages your home’s foundation. Whatever the weather, if drainage is not proper, you’re going to experience some type of rainwater around collecting around your home. If you have a concrete foundation, and because concrete is porous, this standing water will find its way within the concrete. True to its nature, water will then begin to damage the foundation by breaking it away slowly.
During winter months, when water is absorbed into the concrete foundation, the freezing will expand the concrete, thus causing cracks in the foundation, possibly the walls and the ceiling. And if the groundwater doesn’t damage the foundation, it’ll cause damage to the soil around the foundation, which could cause expansion or erosion.
How to Prevent Water Damage
Proper water drainage is the most powerful force against foundation damages. Where there is a lack of proper drainage around the home, water can erode or expand the soil around the foundation, causing damage and cracks in the foundation itself, or the home’s walls and ceilings.
Swales are simple and common for drainage around the home. A swale is a simple and light ditch that is created in the ground that gently guides water away from the home. Likewise, because of the use of the slopes created in the yard, it is absolutely imperative that the ditch is deep and sloped enough to drain the water. Otherwise, the swale will just create the perfect conditions for standing water. A great way to test your swale is to visit it about 1 to 2 hours after a rainfall. If there is water still in the swale, you know it’s not draining properly.
On the other hand, a French drain is the use of a pipe inside a ditch that is dug and lightly filled with gravel or rocks. Once this pipe is fitted within the ditch, it is then fully covered. As water gathers around and is absorbed into the soil, it naturally flows towards the holes in the pipe, which then carries it away from the house. It’s very important that a French drain be installed properly, or it can create the conditions for more standing water (just as improper swales).
Ideally, once water drainage issues are identified and fixed, the problems have been resolved before foundation issues arise.
Minor foundation problems probably won’t lower your home’s value. However, serious foundation problems will. So, either you’ll need to repair them before you sell or sell the house with foundation problems. Make sure the buyer acknowledges the issue and whether it was fixed or not in writing.
Written By: Elizabeth Jeter – Freelance digital marketer excelling in SEO, paid advertising, social media management and advertising, blogs, email marketing and more.
About Atlas Foundation Company, Inc. Family-owned and operated, Atlas Foundation has been serving the foundation repair needs of homeowners in Fort Worth and the surrounding areas for more than 50 years. Atlas Foundation Co., Inc. specializing in residential foundation repairs in the greater Fort Worth area, offering concrete pressed pilings & steel pressed pilings services as proven foundation repair methods.