Instead of looking at foundation repairs as a cost, you should look at them as an investment. Once a foundation has failed, any attempt to repair it will skyrocket in cost. By confronting foundation problems early on, you can cut the eventual costs down greatly. You could invest the money you save, and that is how a timely foundation repair can make you quite rich! Let’s go over some basics about what could go wrong with your home’s foundation, and when you should spring for repairs.
Check for moisture in the basement
Basement walls are made from porous concrete, which can cause problems if there is water built up outside the walls. This pressure can cause cracks or water exchanges which allow the moisture into your basement.
If the air feels very thick and humid, you may have some water intrusion problems.
Look for bugs in the basement. If you find very many bugs, that means there is a source of water nearby. Bugs in your basement are another sign of moisture problems.
Smell the air. A basement with moisture problems will have a musty, usually moldy smell.
These can eventually cause the concrete pylons underneath the house to become compromised. As these are all related to water build-up outside the house, a good solution is to improve drainage. Consider having french drains installed to collect the water and run it off to another spot. See our page on basement waterproofing.
Check the slope of your grade
When a new home is built, the ground around the foundation is usually graded at a slope, with the house at the top of the slope. This causes water to run downhill, away from the structure. Over time, rainwater and wind can cause erosion of this grade. If rainwater is running downward and building up around your house, this can compromise the foundation by putting overmuch stresses on the structure.
Consider having your property re-graded if you find that your home is sitting in a depression, rather than on a slight hill. A good grade should drop about 6 inches over the first 10 feet from the wall. Also make sure to move any plants at least 5 feet from the wall, to avoid constantly pouring water into the soil around your foundation.
Look for signs of structural damage
Inspect your walls for cracks, both in the basement interior, and on all of the exterior walls of the house. Look for any bows or bends in the floors, walls or ceiling. Issues in the foundation can allow the floors, walls, or roof of the building to move. Listen for popping, creaking, or cracking sounds that are telltale signs of structural instability. If you have these problems, you are likely in the advanced stages of foundation failure, and must take action soon.
Foundation failure can render a home unlivable, and may even get the building condemned. This is why foundation repairs, when conducted at a proper time, can save you tons of money. Money that could be better put to use making you more money.