How To: Prevent Foundation Damage

Fixing a damaged foundation is costly and can devalue your home. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent it.

Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012  |  Updated 3:10 PM EDT
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How To: Prevent Foundation Damage

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Unstable soil can lead to a damaged foundation.

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This article is sponsored by Michael & Son, the leading full-service plumbing, electrical, HVAC and remodeling company serving the Washington D.C. area for over 30 years. Learn more about Michael & Son at MichaelandSon.com.

Of all the upkeep problems facing a home owner, one of the worst is a damaged foundation. From last summer's earthquake to improper drainage to unstable soil, a house's foundation takes a big beating from the elements. And while many of the structural problems can first appear to be cosmetic, if they aren't attended to they can take a devastating toll on your home.

Ironically, repairs are not only expensive and inconveniencing, but they can also devalue your home. Therefore, it's better to assess the strength of your foundation and take any preventive maintenance measures before any damage occurs.

Below, we take a look at typical foundation problems and the best ways to avoid them.

Foundation Problems

  • Uneven or sloping floors: Floors that aren't level can separate from the wall over time. Make sure to inspect the floors in your basement from a distance (stand across the room to see the slope) and make sure to bring a level since a change in gradient isn't always visible to the naked eye.
  • Cracked bricks: Cracks on either exterior or interior brick walls are a telltale sign of a failing foundation. Look for cracks around the windows or any outdoor stairs.
  • Interior molding cracks: Cracks in exterior brick walls almost always lead to cracks in your home's molding.
  • Wall rotation: Unstable soil can cause interior support walls to rotate and crack the brick exterior of a home. Like all foundation problems, this can be dangerous if not addressed.
  • Wall separation: When combined, all of the above problems can lead to wall seperation, which is when exterior support walls separate from the home.

Preventive steps

  • Gutters and downspouts: Since pooling water can cause soil instability and erode your foundation, always make sure to keep your gutters clean and well maintained and point your downspouts at least three feet from the home.
  • Keep hydrated: During dry spells or droughts it's important to keep the soil surrounding your foundation well hydrated. Dry soil can contract and expand, causing damage to the foundation. Just remember to water your soil in moderation so as to avoid pooling.
  • Adjusting the slope: If your home is situated on a sloped plot of land, you'll need to level out the property.

Remember, foundation problems are complex, expensive and can wreak havoc on your home. If you think your home might be susceptible to foundation damage, have a Michael & Son expert take a closer inspection. With a little awareness and vigilance, you can avoid costly damage. 

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