If you were to guess which spot on the North American continent boasts the most structures with foundation problems, where would that be? Bob Hillier, President of Paul Davis of Greater Houston, Texas, answers this pressing query at the end of this blog. In the meantime, he hastens to point out that foundation problems can happen to anyone.
We interviewed Sullivan for tips about smart home maintenance. He responded, “smart home maintenance starts from the ground up, namely, pay attention to your foundation” and then provided specific knowledge and advice.
PD: What signs of foundation damage should I look for?
KS: Foundation damage is often signaled by seemingly small inconveniences. A door won’t close. A window won’t open. Caulk separates repeatedly. Nails pop out of sheetrock. Outdoor stucco walls crack. You may see what look like minor cracks in the foundation walls but beware: no foundation crack is ever minor.
PD: Why does foundation damage happen?
KS: Water is the most common cause. There is either too much water near the foundation or not enough. Too much water comes from bad drainage or even a plumbing problem. If there’s not enough moisture, the ground pulls away from the foundation and creates voids that channel surface water down where it eats away at foundation walls. It’s rare, but occasionally an underground seep or hidden spring damages a foundation.
PD: Can foundation problems arise from other sources?
KS: Trees that grow too close to the foundation may anchor roots that break foundation materials as they grow. Trees may indirectly cause problems by growing into sewer lines that then overflow and degrade foundations. Poorly compacted soil around and beneath foundations may be to blame, too. Usually this happens when a home is built on fill or on a spot in which a tree was removed.
PD: What can I do to prevent foundation damage?
KS: A couple of fairly simple maintenance steps go a long way. First, ensure downspouts are clear of debris and drain at least five feet away from the house. Second, keep soil moisture even around the house – not too dry or too wet. Plant responsibly. Site trees far enough away that they won’t impinge on foundations when they are mature. If you see warning signs of foundation issues, don’t wait to call a professional.
PD: Convince me in one sentence to pay attention to my foundation’s health.
KS: Prevention and maintenance are key because foundation damage is incredibly expensive to repair. Finally, to answer the blog’s opening question, Texas appears to hold the record for the place with the highest number of foundation issues, if we can judge by the number of online searches for, “foundation repair services.”