In order to avoid future foundation repairs, when we take our clients out to look at a property, one of the things we always like to check for and point out to our clients is the grading and sources of water around the home.
Excess water around the foundation may cause settling of the soil, or absorption by foundation’s concrete resulting in effervescence minerals to the surface of the concrete, or cause rebar in the concrete to rust and expand.
The water can come from either above, think rain, roofs and gutters or, it could come from below, like sprinkler heads, leaking pipes or a high water table. Once you know the source or sources of the water, you need to develop a strategy to move it away from the home. (Photo 1)
If the home has planter boxes next to it, they would serve to collect water next to the house, so you need to either remove them or create a drain system to have them channel the water out.
In this example we see the entire front roof is exiting from one gutter to a spot that would allow the water to puddle next to the home. Fix would be to extend the water spout to a point where the water is directed away from the home.
Photo 2: roof and gutter. (Exterior of Garage)
Photo 3: where the water is currently draining.
Photo 4: Here’s an example where the water caused the rebar to expand and create a horizontal crack in the foundation wall. (Interior of Garage)
From the pictures, you can see how the soil, vegetation, and downspouts can cause structure issues. When the water gets into contact with the concrete, the concrete soaks up the water and the rebar that sits in the middle of the concrete would be exposed to the moisture causing the rebar to rust and expand, creating cracks in your foundation. Here are some ways to prevent structural damage caused by water.
- Perimeter Around Your Home – When you put a hard surface perimeter around your home, make sure to have it sloped away from your house. This is not only a great way to prevent standing water next to your home, but gives you a great pathway to walk around your property. If you have a hard surface perimeter already, you can check the grading by spraying the hose along the perimeter and see how the water reacts. If it stays in one area, then you will have a grading issue, but if it moves away from your home, then you should be ok. (Photo 5)
- Checking Your Gutter and Downspouts – The second option is to make sure your gutters are clean and that the water is properly draining like it’s supposed to be. Also, check your downspouts to see where it is releasing the water. Make sure your downspouts are pointed away from your home and the water funnels away. One recommendation for finding a redirect in your downspout is to use PVC piping instead of a plastic one. The plastic overtime, will deteriorate and create holes, whereas the PVC piping is more durable. (Photo 6)