As the old adage goes, “You can’t build a strong home on a weak foundation”, and it’s true. Foundation water damage weakens the structure of your home, causes cracks, bowed walls– and in some extreme cases– causes the home to collapse.
Here’s how to identify the early warning signs of foundation water damage problems and address them before they turn into expensive home repair bills.
Warning Sign #1: Cracks
Cracks are a tell-tale sign of foundation water problems, and can occur both outside and inside the home.
Because they’re exposed to the outside elements, cracks in concrete foundations aren’t rare and few hairline cracks aren’t normally a concern. However, horizontal cracks and stair-step cracks in block walls or corners could indicate serious structural damage. You should consult a professional to determine whether any of these warning signs indicate normal settling or structural damage.
When foundation water damage finds its way indoors, you’ll start to see cracks over doorways, window seals, or where walls meet ceilings. Make sure to pay attention to areas that gather outside water, like window seals and door panes. If there are cracks in those areas, make sure you properly seal them to prevent moisture from leaking into your home and causing further water damage.
Warning Sign #2: Standing Water in a Basement or Crawlspace
Water in a basement or crawlspace could be a plumbing issue, like broken pipes or appliances, or it could be caused by water seeping in through cracks in the foundation or gutter runoff.
If you find water in your basement or crawl space time and time again after heavy rains, it’s most likely the latter two options. This seepage can lead to mold growth and weaken wooden support structures, making it critical to address. Check to see if your gutters are properly installed and cleaned.
You should also consult a professional to identify if cracks in the foundation are the true source.
Warning Sign #3: Jammed Windows & Doors
If you find that your doors or windows are getting stuck or won’t open or close properly, it could be an indication of foundation water damage. Excess water absorption causes windows and door frames to warp, which likely means you have a basement or crawlspace waterproofing problem. Excess outside moisture also can cause your foundation to shift, knocking doors and windows off their alignment. In this scenario, you might have a larger foundation problem that needs to be addressed.
Whatever the case, it’s important to make sure doors and windows are properly sealed and closing. If not, the result is water damage, mold, and potentially, even more structural damage.
Warning Sign #4: Mold Patches or Rotted Wood
Mold patches are a major sign of water damage, and if you don’t spot them, you’ll definitely be able to recognize that distinct mildew smell. This could be caused be a crack or opening in the foundation that’s allowing water to seep in.
Mold needs two things to grow: a moisture source and organic material. You might find it on interior walls or on exterior wooden support beams. Damp, moldy, or rotted wood is another clear sign of water damage, and one that needs immediate attention, as it could lead to an unstable structure.
Warning Sign #5: Flooded Soil
Go outside and take a look at the soil surrounding your house. If you find that it’s excessively damp or water pools in it, this could be a catalyst for foundation problems. Excessively wet soil increases the likelihood that water will penetrate the foundation of your home and cause future headaches.
This could be a natural problem with the soil itself and it’s water retention qualities. This could also be human error cause by improper water drainage or landscaping. When gutters or other drainage systems aren’t properly installed or regularly maintained, it can cause water to redirect back to your foundation instead of away from your house. The sloping of your land should also allow for water to flow away from your home.
Make sure to regularly do your chores and make sure gutters aren’t broken or clogged with debris.