Concrete is a strong, durable, versatile, and cost-effective material, so it makes an excellent choice for any structure that needs a sturdy foundation. However, seasonal weather patterns, extreme weather events, and even climate change can affect the integrity of a concrete foundation and shorten its lifespan.
If you’ve just built or bought a new house, you probably won’t experience foundation issues for a while. But if you live in an older Houston home, it’s important to know what exactly may cause foundation trouble and what you can do to prevent or at least keep the damage to a minimum. To get started, let’s take a look at the most common factors that could negatively impact your home’s foundation.
Weather Patterns and Your Houston Home’s Foundation
Whether we like it or not, heavy rain is very common during the hurricane season that affects the Houston-Galveston area every single year. Rainwater and flooding may wash away some of the soil from around and under your house. That may lead to gaps developing in the ground supporting your foundation. Excess water will also make the clay soil around your foundation swell, potentially causing your home to move and settle unevenly. Once the hurricane season ends and dry weather returns, the soil around your home may dry out suddenly and shrink. Excess shrinkage could lead to cracking, which could cause further foundation damage.
Tree Roots and Your Houston Home’s Foundation
The roots of any trees and shrubs planted too close to your house could grow underneath and even into your foundation. Since roots spread and expand in diameter as they grow, they could cause serious shifting in the ground underneath your home. To prevent potential foundation damage, it’s recommended that you plant or move trees and shrubs at a distance of at least 15-20 feet away from your home.
Nevertheless, the overall condition of your foundation will affect the structural integrity of your entire house. To prevent structural damage, you need to ensure that your foundation is well-maintained, protected, and supported. That can be achieved by:
- Keeping a constant level of moisture in the soil around your home: You can easily avoid water content fluctuations that could cause volumetric soil changes by watering your foundation during the dry weather and ensuring proper drainage during the wet season.
- Using concrete piers to fix foundation problems: In Houston, clay soil is the biggest culprit for foundation failure. Installing concrete piers deep into the ground, where the weight of the structure will be transferred directly to the sturdy, load-bearing strata, is the only repair solution that can be used to address a wide range of foundation problems.
- Encapsulating your crawl space: An unenclosed crawl space could let a lot of moisture and water accumulate under your home. Once water has reached your foundation, it could build up into the concrete and wooden subfloor, where it may cause irreversible damage. Crawl space encapsulation is a simple measure to prevent foundation damage due to excess water and moisture.
- Inspecting your piping system: Pipe leaks could cause extensive damage, especially when there aren’t any visible signs. Inspecting your pipes and checking your water bill for any spikes in water usage on a regular basis could help you identify pipe leaks before they cause any serious problems.
- Installing root barriers: As their name suggests, root barriers are meant to stop root systems from growing under your home’s foundation and encroaching on your water and sewer lines.
- Cleaning your gutters and downspouts: This is an important home maintenance task that every Houston homeowner should do in the spring and fall. Fully functioning gutters and downspouts ensure that rainwater flows freely away from your home, so they play an important role in preventing foundation damage.
- Keeping an eye out for pest infestations: Certain types of pests can wreak havoc on different structural components, such as foundation beams, floor joists, and house framing. Since compromised structural components can weaken the structure of your home, preventing and dealing with pest problems as soon as you observe the first signs of an infestation could help you avoid extensive structural damage throughout your home.
The aforementioned points are some relatively simple things you could do to extend the life of your foundation and home. In the long run, they will translate into fewer home repairs and more money in your pocket. Additionally, identifying and addressing foundation issues in a timely manner will prevent them from escalating into serious problems that may affect the integrity of your home. That way, you can keep your home going for many decades, even centuries.
As an experienced foundation repair contractor, Allied Foundation is committed to providing the best foundation repair services to anyone who lives in the Houston-Galveston area and is interested in boosting the longevity of his or her home. No matter what foundation problems you may have, our team is ready to fix them with minimal disruption to your family’s routine! To learn more about how we can help you extend the life of your foundation or to schedule your complimentary foundation inspection and estimate, call us today at 832-400-6118!