How Drainage Affects your Foundation
It’s no surprise to hear that your foundation is one of the most important parts of your home. The foundation's goal is to support and distribute the weight of a house. The average house weighs somewhere between 80,000 and 160,000 pounds – that is, up to 80 tons.
You usually won’t need to think much about the weight of a home unless you are building it from scratch or moving the whole thing from one place to another. But that weight continues to affect the site of the home. It requires consistent, sufficient support.
Without a solid foundation, your home would (and can!) literally begin to sink.
The importance of the foundation isn’t just metaphorical. It’s very practical. While it’s normal for homes to “settle” on their foundations, most people don’t notice when the foundation starts sending up signs of distress. That may start with loud or persistent “settling”, more noticeable than what you’re used to.
Soon, you can end up with a very serious problem!
Homeowners often feel like they woke up one day only to find that they need foundation repair. The truth is a bit more complicated, as you can imagine. Foundation damage often spreads for months or even years before the situation becomes critical. However, the symptoms can be subtle.
That raises an obvious question: What kind of issue can go on for years without you noticing?
In all too many cases – here in Houston and around the state – drainage is the heart of the matter.
Inefficient Drainage Can Slowly Zap the Strength of Your Home’s Foundation
There’s nothing too complicated about the idea of drainage. It’s simply “where the water goes as it leaves your structure.” In an ideal situation, rainwater is captured by your gutter. It then runs safely off the side of the building. Usually, the slope of the terrain is used to optimize this effect.
Water should run downhill, away from construction. It should never be allowed to pool.
The problem comes in when a storm not only dumps a lot of water on your property but also damages the gutters. The gutters could still be standing and look intact, yet it’s not doing the work it’s supposed to do. Even a tiny, pinpoint leak may be enough for water to infiltrate where it’s not wanted.
Naturally, this process takes time. But once water is seeping into the foot of your building, it has begun. A small amount of water is enough to start attacking your concrete. That relatively modest quantity of water can sit for long periods of time before it gets absorbed.
Slowly but surely, the ground can become saturated. Then, as it's even less capable of absorbing the excess water, more of it flows toward the foundation and remains there for longer periods of time. Finally, when the concrete itself starts to absorb water, you are on the road to a severe dilemma.
Concrete Absorbs Water Like a Sponge: That Includes Your Home’s Foundation!
Concrete is one of the only materials suitable for modern home foundations. Other options, like wood, have their own trade-offs that most builders – and homeowners – have decided aren’t worth the risk. Just imagine what it would be like to have your foundation gnawed by termites or beetles!
But that doesn’t mean concrete is perfect.
Because it’s porous, like a sponge, concrete always absorbs some moisture level. The normal amount is based on the ambient humidity and is not enough to damage the foundation. However, add in excess moisture from any source, and things can turn critical within a short period of time.
As concrete becomes more inundated, it is more likely to crack. Believe it or not, small and superficial cracks in a home’s foundation do not always mean the slab is deteriorating. But these larger cracks will have repercussions throughout the rest of the structure that you’ll begin to notice.
A characteristic stair-step crack pattern can appear around doors, windows, and throughout hallways. You may find that you can no longer close windows or doors flush with its casing. In advanced cases, floors can become unstable as they respond to the more noticeable tilt of the building.
And, all along, the root cause might trace back to a broken gutter!
No Matter the Reason, Foundation Repair Is “The Sooner, the Better” Solution
The relationship between the home’s foundation and the roof is illustrated by very common drainage mishaps. No matter what the cause is, though, it’s crucial to move fast on foundation repair. A repair project may require house lifting or house leveling, so don’t assume there’s plenty of time to work with. On the other hand, when a problem has developed unchecked, you may be days away from foundation collapse.
Contact Allied Foundation to get started with Houston’s leading foundation repair service.