Tuesday, August 3, 2010

5 Drainage Issues that Lead to Foundation Problems

1. Missing gutters to catch and carry away water from entering the basement or crawlspace.

Gutters are an important first line of defense to carry rain and melt waters from the peak of the roof past the perimeter of the home.  Sheets of water falling directly from the roof to the foundation can activate surrounding expansive soil and place your home under tremendous forces that will gradually crush the concrete foundation walls.  If your home is surrounded by hydrocompactable soil, sheets of water will cause the soil to subside toward the home.  This means that the entire slope of the land is affected.

2.  Missing downspouts leading to pooling near foundation walls.

Downspouts are essential to directing water far enough away from the home to keep the soil from activating.  Any time that you notice pooling or puddling of rainwater near the foundation, it is important to return the soil to level condition and prevent water from resting in a pool.  If the cause is a missing downspout, then the problem will continue until you replace that downspout.  Each day that you wait will allow further moisture penetration into soil and increase the amount of pressure on your foundation walls.

3. Concrete walkways or patiors that have settled and are sloping towards the foundation.

Patios and walkways become fast flowing streams in rainy conditions.  These slabs should direct water away from your foundation walls through subtle grade alterations.  Unfortunately, concrete is heavy and the soil underneath it can subside over time, especially where a slab meets concrete steps.  This area has more weight pressing on the soil, so it subsides first.  When you notice that your patios and sidewalks are directly water toward your home, it is a good idea to have the concrete releveled and/or replaced.  This is generally done through mudjacking.

4. Landscaping that is planted within 3 feet of foundation walls.

Planting bushes and flowers around the foundation generally seems harmless, but it can actually contribute to bowing or bending foundation walls.  Plant roots are tenacious and will grow down toward cool, moist soil.  This soil exists closest to your concrete foundation walls.  As you water your landscaping, the roots grow larger and add to the forces pressing against your foundation walls.

5.   Downspouts that are not extended far enough from your foundation walls.

Downspouts should extend 6' from your foundation to prevent backflow during Colorado's heavy afternoon rains.  If the downspouts are less than 6', you will experience backflow that can quickly cause clay soils to expand.

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