As homeowners, we often don’t think much about ways that moisture affects our house foundation until we start to notice signs of issues—like cracked walls and floors, water leaks, and moisture damage. But with some practical knowledge about what moisture can do to a home foundation, it’s possible to avoid many problems before they have a chance to begin—preserving the house’s structural integrity and ensuring you feel safe in your home.
Wondering what you need to know to safeguard your home? Here’s a handy look at how moisture affects the soil around your home foundation, the reasons moisture can cause problems, and how to spot and prevent issues before they become significant.
The big issue with moisture is that more of it causes the soil around your house to expand, while too little of it causes the soil to contract. The repeated expansion and contraction cycle puts pressure on your foundation.
Common Causes of Moisture Issues
Moisture problems around a home’s foundations can be caused or worsened by:
Poor drainage—A lack of proper drainage leaves some areas of soil around your home wetter than others, causing the home to shift unevenly.
Heavy rains and melting snow—Excessive moisture makes a home shift. Significant storms or large amounts of snow melt can cause flooding that can damage your foundation.
Extended dry periods—In droughts or long, dry summers, your soil shrinks and contracts, causing the home’s foundation to settle unevenly.
Earthquakes—Oklahoma has seen increasing earthquake activity in recent years—experiencing hundreds of magnitude 3+ earthquakes in the last few years. These quakes can worsen any small existing cracks in your foundation, and cracks can lead to water leaks.
Plumbing leaks—Another common source of moisture problems is faulty pipes. And the leak doesn’t have to take place in your crawl space either. A water main leak that overly dampens the soil in your yard can also cause excessive moisture around your foundation, leading to potential problems.
Faulty construction—Issues for a home’s foundation can begin even before the house is constructed. If the contractor skipped or skimped on important steps such as testing the soil, preparing and compacting the soil properly, or designing adequate footing, the foundation may suffer, especially if exposed to excessive moisture or drastic soil expansion and contraction due to weather extremes.
Trees too close to a home exterior—Trees are a beautiful aspect of your home’s landscaping, but it’s important to keep them a safe distance away from your exterior. If the trees are too close, the roots can expand underneath the foundation, drawing in moisture. This can cause the soil around your home to become dry, shrink, and lead to shifts in your foundation.
What Happens When Your Home Foundation Shifts
We all know that homes settle over time. But Oklahoma’s drastic weather shifts can exaggerate these effects, leading to several issues that can threaten a home’s structural soundness.
Signs of foundation issues can include:
- Water leaks
- Cracks in walls
- Cracks in floors
- Bowed walls
- Gaps in the soil around your home exterior
- Pools of water around your foundation that don’t drain properly
- Cracked concrete slabs
- Cracked chimney bricks
- Doors that are off-kilter or don’t close properly
- Windows that stick or won’t open or close completely
Keep in mind:
- By the time you notice these issues, your foundation may already have sustained a good amount of damage.
- It’s important to have a professional foundation expert evaluate any issues you notice as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
Tips for Preventing Foundation Problems
Fortunately, there are some simple steps that homeowners can take to keep an eye out for potential issues and prevent them before they cause foundation damage.
- Do periodic checks—Walk around your foundation at least a few times a year, looking for cracks, soil contraction, and other signs of foundation issues.
- Check drainage—Maintain the gutter system and be sure it drains water safely away from your foundation rather than creating pools of water around it.
- Test the concrete—If you have a poured concrete perimeter, inspect it closely. Look for flaking or chipped concrete, and test its resistance to pressure.
- Water the foundation—Remember, soil that is too dry can cause problems, just as soil that’s too moist. In Oklahoma’s dry seasons, follow our tips for properly watering your foundation.
- Have a professional inspection—Every year or two, have a foundation company inspect your home. They’re trained to spot issues the average homeowner might miss.
Gain Peace of Mind about Your Home’s Foundation
You deserve to feel safe and secure in your Oklahoma home. When your foundation is protected from moisture damage, you can relax, knowing that you’re doing all you can to preserve your investment in your home.
So, if you’re seeing cracks, bowing, or other signs of foundational issues, or if you’re concerned that your foundation isn’t as secure as it needs to be, don’t wait any longer to get peace of mind. Contact our trusted, experienced team to request a consultation. We’ll meet with you, inspect your foundation, address your concerns, and give you a free estimate for any repairs needed to get your home foundation safely back in shape.