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Fixes to Avoid Major Foundation Problems

Water can enter a home from the exterior and interior, so buyers and homeowners need to keep their eyes open for signs of its presence—or worse—its damage.

The good news is that there are many experts available to spot and diagnose a problem and suggest the best fix.

Share these solutions with clients to help them minimize a foundation’s damage in various scenarios.

Waterproof a foundation.

Keeping the foundation dry will prevent moisture from accumulating on the outside or entering inside. If wet, the best fix is to waterproof the exterior perimeter and interior walls of a basement or crawl space to prevent capillary action from building up. A sump pump will help if there’s moisture and water inside. It must drain far enough from a house, so water doesn’t recycle back inside if the property slopes or there’s an opening.

Install gutters and downspouts.

Water flowing off a roof will land near a house and possibly cause damage over time. A good line of defense is to have both gutters and downspouts installed around a home or building’s perimeter. The downspouts should extend far enough to carry away the water rather than have it sit near a foundation. To keep gutters and downspouts functioning, they must be cleaned.

Keep large trees and bushes away from a house.

Tree roots and other plant materials try to grow toward water, which can destabilize a structure and penetrate foundations. If large trees already grow near a house, check that plumbing lines are free, and confirm there aren’t foundation cracks. If problems arise, the tree may need to be taken down or bushes transplanted.

Don’t ignore diagonal cracks.

Movement, temperature changes, and time may cause foundation cracks to develop. But large diagonal ones require attention from a structural engineer to avoid bigger issues. Among the problems are moisture and salt destroying anything made of steel and non-pressure-treated wood, which may rot. Cracks that appear in foundation walls due to settlement may be visible in a first floor’s interior. Hairline cracks are common, but when it’s a quarter-inch in width and V-shaped, it may indicate pressure on an exterior wall.

Check for significant leaks and stains, especially efflorescence in a basement.

An unfinished basement is the best basement because it’s easier to see problems. When a basement is finished, experts recommend looking for clues. For example, a rust color that shows through paint can be a sign of moisture. Efflorescence—white powder left behind from minerals in water—may also appear. Mold is another indicator, most likely visible at the base of a wall where moisture accumulates. Sometimes areas covered over need to be checked.

September 24, 2021. Realtor Magazine.7 Fixes to Avoid Major Foundation Problems.

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