Many foundation repairs are due to years of neglect and could have been prevented or delayed if the homeowner took preventative measures to maintain the foundation. As a homeowner, there are four maintenance techniques you can apply to make sure your foundation stays healthy so you can avoid foundation repairs.
When a foundation is first put in place, the soil around the foundation is graded or sloped downward away from the foundation. This is an extremely vital aspect of laying a foundation. If water pools near your concrete foundation, it can leak down and under the foundation which can cause movement under the concrete slab if too much moisture builds up. It is up to the homeowner to maintain the slope away from the foundation and to regularly inspect the foundation after a good rain shower for any water pooling around the foundation.
The slope should have a minimum slope of 5% which is a difference in height of 6 inches for every 10 feet. The more slope, the better the drainage. In San Antonio and Austin, the soils are highly permeable which means they absorb water quickly. Therefore, the slope that was originally there when the foundation was created, can start to even out over time with erosion.
Gutters take rain water that runs down your roof and carries it all away to a few exit points away from your home foundation. The key here is that it is keeping water away from the base of your home.
As explained above, the slope around your foundation is beneficial in making sure that water does not collect around the foundation and permeate below it. Gutters are just another obstacle and preventative measure. Make sure that your gutter exits are a few feet away from the house to further prevent water from getting close.
Large trees close to the foundation may develop root systems that begin to grow into the foundation under the ground. Typically when a foundation is first put into place, there is a root barrier installed to divert the roots away from the foundation.
Trees also pull A LOT of moisture from the surrounding soil which can effect your attempts to maintain a consistent level of moisture around the foundation. So keep in mind you may need to water more in areas around a tree or shrub. A trees root system typically spreads the width of the trees branches. Keeping a tree pruned to not touch your home or roof is a good practice.
Consistent Moisture Levels – Watering
Consistent moisture levels can be maintained with an irrigation or sprinkler system. The idea is to keep the soil at the same wetness so that minimal movement is made due to shrinkage and expansion. Keep in mind that when maintaining soil moisture, you don’t want to get water in between the soil and foundation of the house so that it leaks down along the foundation. This is what needs to be avoided as mentioned in the gutter section above.
There are a variety of sprinkler heads that allow you direct the spray exactly where you need moisture. Be sure to inspect your sprinkler system yearly to be certain all sprinkler heads are continuing to direct the correct way and are functioning correctly.