You have finally purchased your own home and are excited to spend a long time there. However, you know that being a homeowner means home maintenance but aren't sure exactly what that entails. This article will cover one aspect of home maintenance: taking care of your home's foundation. We've done all the research to give you the details on how to keep your foundation in good shape.
Maintaining a house's foundation is essential because it ensures that your home stays standing, helps keep pests out, and prevents wood rot. There are a lot of ways to maintain your foundation. A few of them are:
- Do regular foundation inspections
- Make sure landscaping has proper drainage and is properly maintained
- Keep soil moist
- Avoid getting water near the house
- Maintain consistent temperature
- Test your plumbing
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to maintain your foundation. The rest of this article will go into depth about the reasons behind each of these methods and how to do each task. Later, we will discuss how you can prevent foundation shifting as well as how much it costs to fix a foundation that is settling.
Regular Foundation Inspections
At least twice a year, it is absolutely essential that you inspect your foundation. These inspections all0w you to deal with any problems before they become an emergency or major expense.
To perform a foundation inspection, walk around the interior and exterior of your home.
You want to look for any cracks that may have formed, buckling walls, sagging roofs, and check to see if your doors and window frames are fitting nicely.
To assess foundation cracks, take note of things like when you first observe the crack, how it changes over time, temperature, rain exposure, and if it leaks.
If the crack is leaking or gets wider or longer over time, you will want to call in a foundation expert to assess the damage.
If you notice any of the above foundation problems, call in a specialist as soon as you can because the sooner you address a foundation problem, the cheaper it will be to repair.
Plus, you can avoid potential damage to the inside of your home and your personal belongings.
If you have shrubbery near your home, you will want to keep them under three feet because large plants require a lot of water, and water can damage your foundation.
You will also want to plant shrubs and hedges at least three feet away from the house to prevent any problems.
Tree roots can cause damage to your foundation by causing soil shrinkage. Because of this, you should install a root barrier for trees that are near your home.
You can find root barriers in physical or chemical form. However, physical barriers are recommended as they are more environmentally friendly.
This barrier redirects tree roots without damaging the tree.
Flowerbeds should be at least three to four inches over the finished elevation of the wall. Any landscaped areas should have proper drainage that is sloped away from the foundation.
Avoid Getting Water Near The House
Standing water from storms and sprinkler runoff can cause damage to your foundation if allowed to sit for a long time.
So, when inspecting your foundation, make sure your sprinklers are functioning properly, and that downspouts are directing water away from your house.
If you notice that your sprinklers are leaking or that an excessive amount of water is gathering around your foundation, you will want to address it quickly.
You can do this by replacing leaky heads, installing a new system, or hiring a professional to fix the leak.
Problems with your downspout can be addressed by cleaning your gutters or adding a downspout extension. Downspout extensions are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.
Keep Soil Moist
While you should avoid having standing water or constant moisture around your foundation, you need to keep the soil moisture around your foundation consistent.
This is important because soil that is too wet or too dry can move and put stress on your foundation.
If you live in a dry climate, you will want to install a soaker hose system or a sprinkler system. Soaker hoses are recommended over a sprinkler system because they release water slower.
However, if the opposite is true, and you experience a lot of wet weather or have a wet season, you will want to ensure your soil is graded so that the water won't pool around your foundation.
To learn more about installing a soaker hose system, take a look at this video:
Does Watering A Foundation Really Help?
Watering your foundation can help keep the moisture levels even and prevent damage to your foundation. It is especially important in places that are extremely dry or have a lot of clay in the soil.
When soil contracts from the lack of moisture, it contracts unevenly, which can cause different parts of your foundation to sit in different places. Once that dry soil receives moisture, it will expand again. This expansion can worsen cracks.
How Often Should You Water Your Foundation?
When your yard gets dry, you should water your foundation. When it needs to be watered, you will notice that the dirt and plants that normally are against the foundation pull away from it.
This will leave a space you can put your hand in. It's recommended to water it at least once a day during the summer.
If you are using a sprinkler system, you will want to run it for 15-20 minutes a day, preferably after the sun has gone down. You will need to run soaker hoses for about 45 minutes to an hour.
How Do You Water A Foundation By Hand?
To water your foundation by hand, simply grab a garden hose and water all the way around your house.
Be careful not to put the water directly onto the foundation. Instead, water about 10-15 inches away from the base of the house. Make sure the ground is thoroughly moist.
This method isn't recommended because it can be difficult to control how much moisture the soil around the house is getting. Sprinkler systems and soaker hoses offer more consistency in the amount of water than hand-watering does.
Maintain Consistent Temperature
Maintaining the outside of the foundation is important, but so is making sure the temperature of your house remains at a relatively consistent temperature.
You will want to ensure that your house's temperature stays between 40 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even when you aren't home, leave your thermostat on a low setting to prevent the house from reaching extreme temperatures while you are gone. This will prevent your foundation from cracking due to extreme temperatures.
Test Your Plumbing
To prevent leaks and water damage, you will want to regularly check that your plumbing is functioning properly. Problems with plumbing can cause wood rot, water damage, and foundation settling if not addressed promptly.
It is recommended to annually have your plumbing checked for leaks and problems by a professional. A plumbing inspection costs from about $180 to $225 and can help prevent thousands of dollars of damage.
How Do I Keep My Foundation From Shifting?
Foundation shifting is caused by soil displacement. Poorly compacted, dry, or wet soil increases your chances of foundation shifting. All the methods above will prevent this issue.
However, there are a few other things you can do to prevent this major issue.
You can pay a contractor to add helical anchors, steel piers, and helical piers to add stability to your foundation. These are deep foundation systems that will greatly reduce your foundation's chance of shifting.
However, they can be quite expensive; they cost between $950 to $2,100 per piling, depending on what material is used.
Another thing you can do is add retaining walls to prevent soil from slipping away, make sure your gutters are clean and working properly, and you can have a push pier added if the soil under your house is clay-rich or poorly compacted.
How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Settling Foundation?
How much it costs to repair your foundation depends on what type of foundation you have, the soil composition under your house, the amount of foundation settlement, and how big the home is.
A house with a failing foundation can cost between $5,000 to $9,000 to repair.
On average, it costs about $8,000, but simple jobs can cost $2,000, while more complex ones can go all the way up to $20,000. This doesn't take any other necessary repairs into count, which can add to this cost.
This cost can go up more if you need to do things like hire a structural engineer, get a soil report, or if the laborers deal with any unknown obstacles in the ground.
These unknown obstacles can be tree roots or extra-deep footings and can add about $1,000 to $2,500 to your cost.
In this article, we covered various ways you can maintain your foundation and why you should water your foundation. We also covered ways to prevent shifting and how much it can cost to repair your foundation if it does settle.
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