The foundation of a home is arguably the most important part of a home. It’s responsible for the structural strength and stability of the entire structure. Without a good one, the house can pose a safety risk to its occupants.
As a landlord, ensuring strict adherence to habitability laws is important. According to these laws, your tenants have a right to a livable, safe, and clean dwelling.
5 Foundation Maintenance Tips
- Check for plumbing leaks
Plumbing leaks are one of the biggest causes of foundation damage. These can occur in sprinkler systems, freshwater lines, sewer lines, and other parts of your plumbing system.
Usually, older homes are more likely to have under-slab plumbing leaks. When this occurs, soil heaving can take place. Over time, this puts pressure on your property’s foundation leading to foundation failure.
To prevent this from happening, you need to regularly check for signs of plumbing leaks such as:
- Stains on ceilings or floors
Warped walls or bubbling on the drywall may mean there is a leak nearby.
- Musty smell
Standing water or continually moist surfaces smell. If you notice a musty smell even after doing a thorough clean, chances are there is a hidden leak somewhere.
- Mold and mildew
Mold and mildew thrive in wet areas. If you begin noticing them, it’s likely there is water leakage.
- Running meter
A continuously running meter is indicative of a water leak.
- Increased bill
There is a big difference between a normal increase and an extraordinary increase. If there is no explanation as to why your water bill has skyrocketed, you could have a leak. Hire professional plumbing services immediately.
- Make sure that the trees around your property aren’t causing foundation problems
Trees with invasive root systems are bad for your foundation. To survive, trees require moisture and nutrients. These absorb the moisture and nutrients through a process referred to as transpiration.
With large trees, the rate of transpiration can be really high. This can cause the soil surrounding your property to shrink, leading to foundation failure.
To protect your home from damage, make sure that you plant trees at an adequate distance away. If large trees are already near your foundation, then you should install a root barrier. Root barriers come in either metal, hard plastic or stiff nylon fabric material. These help prevent foundation cracks.
- Install a good foundation drainage system
Poor water drainage is one of the leading causes of foundation damage. Water damage occurs in the following ways:
- Excess soil moisture
Too much water in the soil can create “hydrostatic pressure.” This causes soil expansion, which may lead to foundation heaving.
- Poorly sloped yards
Poorly sloped yards can make water to stagnate around your property. Over time, this can cause foundation failure.
- Inefficient gutters and downspouts
Make sure that your gutters are free of debris. Too much debris makes gutters heavy and causes them to pull away from the house, leading to rainwater spillage near your foundation.
To avoid these problems, invest in a proper water management solution.
- Inspect your home for cracks
Cracks take many forms and sizes. These can occur in foundations, walls, and floors. If you see cracks, don’t ignore them. These can signal a far much deeper foundation problem.
Not all cracks are created equal, though. Some are worth losing sleep over while others are not. If you notice that some cracks have gotten bigger since your last visit, get a specialist to check them out.
There are four types of foundation cracks:
- Step cracks
These are common in bricks or concrete block exterior houses.
- Horizontal cracks
These are worth worrying over. They are caused by a bowing foundation.
- Diagonal cracks
These run from about 35 to 75 degrees vertical to the wall. They are caused by differential settling.
- Vertical cracks
These are of least concern and are more commonly seen in many houses.
- Maintain a consistent moisture level around your foundation
The soil around your property should have a consistent level of moisture at all times. This is especially important in areas with expansive soil types.
The most predominant geologic hazard across the U.S. is expansive clay soil. Each year, shrinking and swelling behavior by clay soil causes billions of dollars in damage to building foundations and structures.
During the dry season, expansive clay soil shrinks. During the wet season, it expands. Without a consistent soil moisture level, this change in soil conditions leads to foundation failure.
Keep in mind that foundation repair doesn’t come cheap. To prevent this problem from happening, ensure that the soil surrounding your property has a consistent moisture level at all times. This may require implementing an efficient water control system.
When it comes to foundation problems, prevention is better than cure. Regular, routine foundation maintenance will go a long way in helping you avoid costly repairs down the road.