For many homeowners, the words “foundation repair” can elicit feelings of alarm, and even terror. Images of excavators and back hoes ripping up carefully cultivated gardens or homes collapsing at the corners come to mind–and always alongside astronomical invoices.

Leaky basements and cracked walls often lead to these woeful words “foundation repair,” causing much worry and concern. However, in many cases addressing the need for the repairs need not be a cause for alarm. By arming yourself with some helpful information on the subject you will not only ward off frightful feelings you can be sure to avoid those hefty invoices, too.

In this article we address some common questions like

  • How common are foundation cracks?
  • How often should you have to repair a foundation?
  • How to know when your foundation is in need of repair?
  • What to do about a leaky basement?

Here are the top 5 things homeowners should keep in mind to ward off worry and avoid big bills.

Foundation Cracks are Common

If you are to take a look at the outside of your home right now you will likely see more than one crack on your foundation walls, especially if you live in Canada. Cold weather climates are prone to produce cracks in foundations even in homes built to be structurally sound. Freezing groundwater can exert pressure on the foundation, and the constant freeze-thaw cycles make cracks inevitable regardless of whether the home is a few months or a few decades old.

Just because you see a crack doesn’t mean that your home is in need of costly foundation repair. As we will see (later in this article), the key is discerning the type of crack, its cause, and repairing it immediately.

Foundation Cracks are Avoidable

Keeping water runoff and tree roots away from the walls of your foundation can go a long way toward preventing cracks. Here are 3 basic questions to ask yourself:

How close are the trees and shrubs to my home? If branches are touching the top of your house then the roots are touching the foundation beneath it. This can be cause for serious concern as time goes on and any interference of this type should be removed.

Is there a sufficient slope away from your home? To prevent water pooling around the base of your home you need at least half a foot of slope within a 10-foot circumference. Check to ensure that the ground (goes down – or – slopes away from the walls) all the way around your home.

Are my gutters and downspouts directing roof run-off far enough away? When the spring rains come you want to be sure that they are sent well away from your home—at least five but ideally ten feet away. This is easily enough achieved with the proper downspout installation. If you see that what you currently have isn’t keeping the water away, it’s easy enough to purchase and install downspout extensions yourself. And, if your gutters are clogged up, be sure to clear them out.

Taking the time to tend to these rather simple preventative matters can go a long way toward reducing the need for serious foundation repair the road. For further information on this topic read our recent blog article on waterproofing your basement.

Routine Inspections Can Significantly Reduce Foundation Repair Costs

Another simple and cost effective measure you can take to reduce the need for foundation repair is to conduct routine inspections of your basement. Take your cue from nature and after the snow has melted and the little green sprigs have poked through the soil, set aside an hour or so to examine the inside and outside of your foundation walls. Are there any new cracks? If so, mark and measure them. Examine the cracks identified in previous years and make sure they haven’t grown. Take a flashlight and a well-functioning nose to the inside of your basement walls. Look for any signs of mildew or moisture. A musty odour can be a tell-tale sign that water has managed to seep into your home from the outside.

If you do identify a problem, be sure to tend to it right away. Our article on foundation crack repair can provide you with many helpful suggestions as can some tips from Mike Holmes here.

If you make it a habit to identify potential problems when they first occur and tend to them immediately, you may dramatically reduce the need for large foundation repairs down the road.

Neglecting the Repair of Your Foundation Can Be Destructive and Dangerous

If, on the other hand, you choose to put off tending to more minor matters of foundation repair you should know that you are taking a huge risk. Small cracks can turn into gaping crevices faster than you might think and once the mounting pressure against a basement wall locates a source of release it will be no time at all before you find yourself with a leaky basement, or worse, a crumbling foundation.

What to do About a Leaky Basement?

If You Find Yourself with a Leaky Basement You Can Call For Help

Mould and standing water are clearly hazardous to human health and can cause long term damage to your home, so if you are wondering what to do if your basement is leaking then call us. Restore All Concrete has been conducting concrete repairs for more than years and our extensive experience enables us to help homeowners repair their foundations with as little disruption as possible. Working together, we can ensure that your worst foundation repair fears are never realized.