How to Protect Your Home’s Foundation from Water Damage
To build something solid, something that lasts – a home, a relationship, a career – you need a solid foundation. And you need to keep it strong and steady, as even the soundest structures and brightest prospects can be ruined if the foundation fails.
While this applies to all aspects of life, it is literally true in reference to a building. If the foundation is compromised, the entire house may crumble and fall or, at least, sustain a lot of damage. The necessary repairs will cause a lot of hassle and inconveniences and will cost dearly, so you need to do everything possible to prevent foundation problems in the first place.
While a house foundation can be damaged by various factors – earthquakes, extreme temperatures, tree roots, etc. – moisture is the number one culprit that weakens and compromises the home’s base. When water collects around your house from rain, snow, or burst pipes, the saturated soil around the foundation expands and shifts. The pressure on the foundation walls increases and results in cracks and leaks that allow water to penetrate the foundation and cause electrical hazards, mold growth, and structural damage to the house.
To prevent such problems, you need to find a way to protect your home’s foundation from water.
Keep Water Away from House Foundation
To prevent water damage to your home’s foundation, you need to keep water away from it.
Ensure Good Drainage
The best way to keep water away from your home’s foundation and avoid the need for expensive water damage restoration is to ensure proper drainage.
- Make sure the ground around your house is graded away from the foundation – The soil around your house should slope at least 6 inches within 10 feet of the foundation. If this is not the case, you need to add dense soil (preferably clay soil) to the area to create proper grading and prevent moisture from accumulating under the foundation;
- Install a French drain system around the house foundation – Dig a trench around the foundation, line it with gravel, and place a drain with perforations in it to pull the water away. Cover the drain with gravel and add soil over it. Make sure the trench has a 3-5 percent downslope, so that the water flows away from the foundation;
- Make sure your basement has a functioning exterior drain system – a footer drain, weeping tile, etc. – to carry excess water away from the house (it would be best if the drain runs to a sump pump).
Keep the Gutters and Downspouts Working Properly
Make sure the gutters drain water effectively and direct it away from the house:
- Keep the gutters clear of leaves and debris so that the water can run freely through them. If they’re blocked, a heavy rain will send cascades of water down the side of the house and straight into the ground around the foundation. It is a good idea to have the gutters screened to help prevent leaves from clogging the drainage;
- Make sure the downspouts are draining at least 10 feet from your home. If necessary, extend the downspouts to ensure that they are effectively routing the water away from the foundation, not pouring it right next to your home. If you find downspout extensions unsightly (as you need to add pipes or other fixtures at several points around your home) or inconvenient (the pipes are a tripping hazard and make it more difficult to mow the area around the house), consider recessed downspout extensions or extensions that can be buried – they will keep water from the downspouts away from the foundation without interfering with the beauty or accessibility of your outdoor area.
Keep Your Property in Good Repair
To protect your home and its foundation, in particular, from water damage, you need to leak proof the entire building and maintain it in excellent condition:
- Inspect the walls of your home (pay special attention to the foundation walls) for cracks and deteriorating mortar joints. If you find any, take quick and efficient measures to fix the problem – restore the mortar, seal small cracks with caulk designed to repair masonry, and fix larger gaps with the help of hydraulic cement;
- Check the roof to make sure water isn’t trickling from the top down. Be sure to replace any broken tiles and fix loose or misplaced ones as soon as you notice them;
- Ensure that your eavestrough system is in good working order – inspect the gutters and downspouts for cracks, holes, or gaps every time you’re cleaning them and replace damaged or rusty drainpipes without delay;
- Inspect the plumbing system on a regular basis and keep it in good condition – replace or repair damaged or rusty pipes and valves and protect them well against the winter cold;
- Check for leaks under sinks, around toilets and bathtubs, behind appliances, etc. Look for dark spots where pipes might be dripping on floors, ceilings or walls and immediately repair any leaks you find;
- Check for water pooling near the foundation. If you find standing puddles close to the house after rain, remove the water and fill those areas with dirt to prevent pools from forming near the foundation in the future.
Do Not Let the Soil around Your House Completely Dry Out
During a drought, the soil of your foundation may dry out and shrink. When the next big rain soaks the earth, it will expand dramatically and exert great pressure on the foundation walls.
To prevent this from happening, you’re strongly advised to water the soil around your home’s foundation periodically during a dry season and keep it moist enough to thwart shrinking.
It is also a good idea to refrain from planting trees close to the house as they can soak up all the moisture from the soil and cause the foundation to crack.
Invest in a Quality Sump Pump
A quality sump pump installed in the basement floor can help prevent basement floods and water damage to your home’s foundation.
For best results, make sure your home has a sump basin that gathers water from rain or groundwater seepage. When the water reaches a certain level, the sump pump will turn on and drain the water away – into sewage lines, storm drains or dry wells, depending on the municipality. It is best, however, that the water be pumped out, not in the sewer system which can back up and send sewer water back into your basement.
You’re advised to perform several tests a year (especially during heavy storm seasons) to check if your sump pump is working properly. To test your sump pump, you need to fill its basin with water and watch to make certain that the buoy rises, the pump turns on, and the water level lowers.
A properly functioning sump pump ensures the best possible protection against flood damage.
Knowing how to drain water away from your home’s foundation effectively will save you plenty of troubles and all the money necessary for water damage cleanup and restoration. So, make sure you protect your home’s foundation well and keep it safe and strong at all times!