Even the strongest and fanciest homes can be ruined if they are not built upon a solid foundation. Not surprisingly, foundation repairs can get very expensive very quickly — easily running into the tens of thousands of dollars for even minor problems.
That’s why it is vital that you do everything you can to prevent foundation damage to your home. Here are eight ways to help keep your foundation in tiptop shape:
1. Inspect the perimeter of your home. Obviously, you’ll want to look for signs of cracking or breakage. But you should also try to make sure that the siding, brick, wood, vinyl, or other exterior coverings are at least six inches above the bottom of the foundation. Many times, dirt and debris can shrink this clearance and provide a place for moisture to invade the top of your foundation. If possible, clear away the dirt or other material to improve the clearance — even if you can’t get six inches’ worth.
2. Make sure the ground slopes away from your foundation. This will enable runoff water to flow away from your home instead of seeping into your foundation. Whatever you do, ensure that the ground does not slope toward your home.
3. Check for water pooling near your foundation. You can either do this after a substantial rain event or by spraying water with a hose at various points around your home. If pools of water do form, then remove the water and fill in those areas with dirt to keep it from happening again.
4. Keep track of changes around your property. If a neighbor puts in landscaping or alters his or her drainage system, or if construction crews dig up underground cable or work on your street’s sewer system, your property’s drainage could be affected. So take the necessary steps to counter those problems.
5. Clean and inspect your gutters. You should remove debris from your gutters at least twice a year (but don’t just scoop it out and leave it on the ground next to your home — that could cause pooling). Whenever you undertake gutter cleaning, you should inspect your gutters to make sure they don’t have any cracks, holes, or gaps; and also check to see if they are pitched correctly so water flows through them properly.
6. Inspect your downspouts. Like your gutters, make sure that no leaks are present in your downspouts. But also ensure that they are effectively routing the water away from your foundation — instead of just pouring it next to your home.
7. Monitor foliage near your home. Cut back plants or vines that are up against your home so they don’t hinder the air circulation process and trap excess dampness against your home when they get wet. Also, refrain from planting any trees close to your foundation; they can soak up much-needed moisture that helps keep foundations from cracking.
8. Water your foundation during the summer. In periods where rain is scarce, the spoil of your foundation could dry and shrink, which could upset your foundation. So giving your foundation a good soaking periodically during dry season can help prevent that problem.