How To Prevent, Detect And Repair Summer Foundation Damage
At Foundation Repair Services, our technicians are busy throughout the year, but we receive a disproportionate number of foundation repair requests during the summer months. There are several reasons for this:
- Property owners have more leisure time to focus on major home improvements.
- There is less precipitation during the summer, allowing us to work uninterrupted.
Though arguably the biggest reason is that summer heat waves place a tremendous amount of pressure on foundations.
Note that it isn’t necessarily the “heat” itself that is causing the damage. Rather, rapidly changing temperatures and moisture levels place added stress on your home’s foundation:
- During the spring months, the soil tends to be wetter, allowing it to expand.
- When summer hits, the heat dries out the earth, causing the soil to rapidly contract.
- Once fall arrives, the process is reversed with cooler and wetter temperatures causing soil expansion.
Although the concrete used to create your foundation was designed to withstand much of this stress, the pressure can slowly build up after years of seasonal soil expansion and contraction. In fact, the process doesn’t have to be gradual at all. If summer temperatures reach a certain level, the concrete itself can dry out and lose much of its structural integrity. This is why it is imperative you conduct periodic foundation inspections. This is especially important during the summer months when excessive temperatures and dryness pose the greatest risks.
So what should you be on the look out for?
Early Warning Signs of Summer Foundation Damage
In most cases, the damage starts small. You might notice hairline cracks on walls, floors or ceilings throughout the home. Rotting drywall and water stains are also telltale signs that your house isn’t properly settling.
If you don’t attend to these issues, more severe signs are likely to emerge, including:
- Doors and windows that no longer close properly.
- Sagging roofs, leaning walls and tilted chimneys.
- Buckling supports, beams and girders.
- Gaps wherever the wall meets the floor or ceiling.
- Crumbling concrete and flaky bricks.
- Leaky pipes, faulty toilets and other plumbing issues.
Sometimes the problem is completely hidden — but you can hear it.
All homes settle with time and make occasional groaning noises, but if your property continues to make sounds non-stop, consult with a foundation repair team immediately. These types of “settling” sounds can be extremely “unsettling.”
However, remember that signs of potential damage won’t necessarily come from within the home. You should periodically inspect the surrounding soil to ensure that it is properly draining and retaining moisture:
- If the ground is dry after a heavy rain, this means that water is draining away too quickly.
- If the soil is super damp after a dry spell, the water isn’t draining quickly enough.
Either of these is cause for alarm, and you should consult with a foundation repair team ASAP.
Reducing the Likelihood of Summer Foundation Damage
Now that you understand the early warning signs of foundation damage, what can you do to reduce their frequency and severity? There are a number of steps you can take to protect your home’s foundation; but during the summer months, the most effective strategy is to maintain consistent moisture levels around your home.When temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s a good idea to water the surrounding soil and the foundation itself — especially if it’s made from concrete. You don’t have to sit there and actually “water” the area like you would a garden. Most hardware stores sell soaker hoses that do all the work for you. Place these about 18 inches from your home and let them run for 15 minutes whenever it gets really hot or dry.
Although this strategy is effective, it’s not always practical. Many homeowners associations and local governments place restrictions on water use — particularly during the hot and dry summer season. Yet you can reduce total water consumption with some intelligent landscaping. It’s a bit counterintuitive since plants need water to grow, but strategically placing trees and bushes throughout your property allows the underground root systems to trap moisture – even during the hottest and driest days. When the season becomes wetter and cooler, those roots absorb the extra water. Once again, the moisture level around your home remains consistent.
However, it is important that you plant strategically — i.e. not too close and not too far.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recommends planting “no closer to the foundation of light building structures than the anticipated height of the particular plant.” Therefore, a tree that might one day become 15 feet tall should be planted approximately 15 feet away from the foundation.
What If Summer Foundation Issues Have Already Started to Appear?
The above steps are preventative measures that can help delay damage. Though even with the best strategies, your foundation will eventually succumb to seasonal wear and tear.
The moment you spot any of the early warning signs of damage, contact us for an immediate assessment. Our foundation damage repair technicians will inspect your property and recommend the most appropriate corrective measures.
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