What causes foundation problems? The vast majority of them start with significant changes in the soil’s moisture content — such as excessive loss of moisture during dry periods of the year or excessive moisture absorption during periods of continuing heavy rainfall. For general foundation maintenance recommendations, click here.
To help avoid foundation issues from developing, we recommend doing all you can to control the seasonal variation of the soil’s moisture. Here are our Top 5 Foundation Maintenance Tips:
Landscape grades should be kept a minimum of four (4”) inches below the top of the finished floor on the main level — and should slope away from the foundation at a minimum of one (1”) inch per foot for six (6’) feet.
Use moderately plastic clayey soil to fill in areas needed to maintain these grades — sand and topsoil should be avoided. In addition, re-cutting and re-grading of the site may be necessary to ensure proper surface water flow away from the home.
Guttering should be installed around the entire perimeter of the roof. Downspouts should discharge into an underground drain or onto splash blocks (located at least three (3’) feet away from the foundation.
Run a test every few years to check for leaks and ensure the soundness of the incoming service lines and the sanitary sewer discharge lines. A hidden moisture source can be disastrous. (Learn how to conduct this test accurately, by clicking here.) Any leaks that are found must be repaired as quickly as possible!
During the dry months, keep the soil moist (but not excessively wet) around the foundation perimeter. The key is to keep the soil from shrinking away from the foundation. We recommend using soaker hoses around the foundation, but there is no standard length of time for running these hoses. You must watch and judge when the soil is moist but not soggy. It is advisable to use timers for consistent and even watering.
Because trees and large shrubs can absorb a tremendous amount of moisture from under the foundation, we recommend planting them further away from the home.
A good rule of thumb: Plant them a distance from the home that is at least their maximum height. Example: If the tree’s maximum height is twenty (20’) feet, plant it at least 20 feet from the foundation.
And if a tree is already present and closer than the distance described above, it should be cut down or pruned at the roots. It’s best to build an impenetrable barrier between the foundation and tree so that roots cannot grow under the foundation.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the extreme climates and expansive clay soil throughout the central United States, slight movements of the foundation should be expected even if the steps above are implemented.