Foundation problems are insidious. They often present themselves as cracks in the walls or sagging floors, but the most common problem associated with a damaged foundation is dampness. Water can be both a cause and a symptom when it comes to a damaged foundation. In many cases, it is the soil beneath your home that is the real problem, not the foundation itself. Underground water sources, heavy rainfall, and even serious droughts can all take their toll on the structural stability of your home and undermine the very foundation on which the building rests.
If you think you may have a problem with your property’s foundation, it’s best to have a professional check it out sooner rather than later.
Foundation Cracks Start in the Soil
While it’s true that some foundational issues begin because of a badly designed or built foundation, an overwhelming majority of structural instability issues begin outside your home. The soil underneath your home is essential to the health of your foundation and property as a whole. These are some of the most common external issues that can cause water leaks under your foundation.
Consistent, heavy rainfall can saturate the soil under your home and make it unstable, causing your foundation to shift. If this happens, your foundation can begin to sink. If it sinks unevenly or dramatically, your foundation can crack too, which will allow water into your home. Once the soil dries out again, your home will remain in this new position causing stress and pressure on your foundation and the overall structure of your property.
Most homeowners understand that excessive rainfall or flooding can cause the foundation of a property to shift or crack. Few realize, however, that one of the biggest causes of dampness in a home can be foundation damage as a result of a drought. When the soil under your home becomes incredibly dry, it can shrink and crack. When the cracks under your home become large or very deep the uneven support can cause an issue known as settlement where the foundation of your home settles into the uneven surface of the soil. This can cause serious cracks, and when the drought breaks and the soil re-saturates, these cracks allow water into your home.
Poor Yard Drainage
If your yard is poorly graded, or you have insufficient drainage systems, heavy rain will see water collecting beside and underneath your foundation. This will cause a buildup of hydrostatic pressure, which can cause cracks in your foundation and basement walls.
Underground Water Sources
All homes are built to withstand a certain level of hydrostatic pressure, but if you are close to an underground water source, you could face a higher level of hydrostatic pressure than neighboring homes.
This excess pressure can cause cracks to form and allow water into your basement.
Whatever causes the cracks and instabilities in your home to form, however, the result of leaks under your foundation remains the same—water and dampness in your basement.
Dampness, Mold, and Musty Smells – The Results of Foundation Leaks
When you have cracks in your foundation that let in moisture you can expect a host of other problems to follow soon after. The most common side effects of water leaks under and in your foundation are:
If you have water pooling in your basement, or multiple cracks letting moisture in, dampness is most likely to be the first problem that develops. While dampness itself is a relatively minor problem, it can be very damaging to your personal property and is sure to snowball into larger issues.
Dampness and humidity go hand in hand. Humidity will make the environment in your basement incredibly unpleasant and uncomfortable, but it can do more than that. Raised humidity levels will increase your energy bills by making your HVAC system work harder to heat and cool the air in your home. More than that, humidity creates the perfect environment for mold formation.
When you have a damp, humid basement full of organic materials, mold formation is almost certain. Most mold is fairly benign, but it will make the environment in your basement very unpleasant. Some mold, by contrast, can be damaging to your health. Whether it’s benign or not, however, mold is notorious for spreading and attracting pests.
In the grand scheme of things, a musty basement smell is not the worst problem you can have, but it is capable of quickly spreading to the rest of your home and making your living situation incredibly uncomfortable.
Dampness, humidity, and mold—these are three things that are almost guaranteed to cause rot and attract pests. Bugs like cockroaches, termites, and mold mites love conditions like these, as do rodents like mice. Once you have an infestation, they can be hard to get rid of and incredibly damaging.
Water Leaks Under Foundation
If you already have cracks and leaks in your basement, it can be tempting to try a DIY fix, but you should not do this. Structural damage requires professional assessment and attention to ensure that all underlying causes have been addressed.
- Book an Inspection
If you have found spreading cracks in your basement walls or floor, the best thing that you can do is book a professional inspection to figure out the exact cause. You must be able to identify all contributing factors if you are to get a complete solution. Contacting a professional will help you to find a tailored solution that suits your home.
The benefit of booking a professional inspection are many, but the most pressing is the fact that a professional will also be able to spot any other issues in your home. If, for example, the cracks in your walls are letting in water and you have a mold problem forming, they will be able to spot it and suggest a solution that nips it in the bud.
- Keep Your Drainage Systems Clear
The drainage systems in and around your property are hugely influential in keeping the structure healthy through even extreme weather. They do this by diverting water away from your foundation and preventing it from pooling around your perimeter. When these drains are blocked, hydrostatic pressure can quickly build.
Though installing or cleaning out drains will not repair damage already done, it could help to minimize damage while you wait for professional help to arrive. By minimizing the amount of water seeping through the cracks, you can also manage the humidity in your basement to some extent. This will keep repair costs low.
There are many possible reasons why your basement floor and walls could be cracking. The most likely cause is outside of your home, however. Once these cracks form, they allow water to seep into your basement, causing many other issues. These same issues can also cause your house to sink.
The most common causes are:
- Foundation Heave
Foundation heave is a unique and destructive type of damage that occurs when your foundation bulges upwards as a result of pressure from below. This can be caused by sudden freezes producing soil expansion, or even by tree root incursion. Either way, it can be recognized by an upward tilt to the cracked areas.
Foundation heave generally starts small, but over time, the bulges caused by this unusual occurrence can become quite prominent. As such, it is generally easy to tell when foundation heave is the underlying cause of damage. While all properties can theoretically face this, very light properties are the most at risk, especially in areas where frost heave is prominent.
- Subsidence or Settlement
Settlement and subsidence are foundational issues that occur when the soil under your home is unable to support it properly for any reason. This can either lead to sections of your foundation settling lower than others, cracking the foundation and floor, or uneven sinking which puts pressure on the structure of your house as a whole.
The most common causes of subsidence and settlement are expansive soils. Expansive soils are those which react strongly to the presence or absence of moisture. Clay-based soils, for example, expand dramatically when saturated, but will shrink when dehydrated. Neither is ideal for a property built upon such soil.
- Excess Hydrostatic Pressure
The water in the soil around and under your home exerts pressure on your walls and foundation. This can cause cracking and water intrusion into your home. All homes face some hydrostatic pressure, of course, but expansive soils or poorly compacted backfill soil can lead to some properties facing excessive levels of hydrostatic pressure.
Once the level of pressure exceeds a property’s ability to withstand it, many issues can arise. Bowing walls, for example, are a common issue in properties that are struggling with hydrostatic pressure. As are spreading cracks in the floor and walls. Once these cracks form they will let water seep into your home.
The Benefits of Professional Repair
While you can address and fix the tertiary damage caused by a damaged or unstable foundation, you will not be able to fix the foundation or the water leaks beneath it yourself. As such, the problems will recur and escalate. That’s why it is so important to contact a foundation repair professional to fully assess the damage and make all the necessary repairs.
The benefits of professional repair are:
Unlike even the most skilled DIY enthusiasts, who are unlikely to have the right tools to hand, professional foundation repair specialists use the best tools and materials available. They also have the skills to make sure that the repairs are durable and of high quality. This means that you can expect the very best results from a professional job.
By contrast, trying to undertake the job by yourself will necessitate hiring expensive, specialist tools and is almost guaranteed to end up in a lower-quality repair. This is partly because professionals have access to materials and products that are not sold over the counter in hardware stores, but it is mainly because even the most skilled amateur does not have the experience of a foundation repair professional.
When it comes to structural repairs, safety should be a huge concern for you and your property. A professional team will make sure that your home is safe and secure, but they will also be able to do the job with no danger to themselves. This is something that you, as an amateur cannot be certain of; structural repairs require intensive work.
Many things could go wrong when it comes to structural repairs because the process requires specialist tools and knowledge. Of course, damage to your property can be fixed, but if you happen to injure yourself or someone else when using the heavy machinery involved in structural repairs, this could be far more worrying! As such, it’s better to leave it to the pros.
Fixing Your Foundation Cracks
Foundation Recovery Systems specializes in repairing the damage caused by water leaks under the foundation and ensuring the same damage does not recur again in the future. We offer a range of solutions from drainage options to foundation repair and stabilization services.
Foundation Repair Solutions
Before we can deal with the damage the cracks in your basement have caused, we first have to repair the issues with your foundation. This is often a dual process of drainage improvements and stabilization solutions. Common foundation repairs include:
- Foundation Underpinning
If your foundation has been permanently destabilized as a result of water saturation in the soil, we can install a piering system like push or helical piers to bolster and lift them once more.
- Wall Reinforcement
Foundational damage can cause serious issues like bowing walls, which in turn exacerbate the dampness problems within your basement by letting in more water. Carbon fiber wall reinforcement, wall braces, and wall anchors can rectify this damage to keep dampness out indefinitely.
Once your home is structurally sound again, our team will undertake the process of dehumidification and waterproofing. Common waterproofing solutions include:
- Drainage Installation
The best way to prevent the recurrence of cracks in your foundation after the repair is to improve the drainage around your foundation. Interior drains, proper yard grading, and a working sump pump will keep your foundation free from excess water and reduce hydrostatic pressure.
- Dehumidifier Installation
A dehumidifier is the most effective way to dry out your basement once the source of the water has been repaired. Installing a dehumidifier will not only make your basement more comfortable but will also prevent mold from reforming.
- Vapor Barrier Installation
Installing a high-quality vapor barrier will keep your basement dry, clean, and comfortable going forward.
Foundation Recovery Systems Is Here for You
Our team of skilled specialists is here to help you deal with every aspect of water leaks under your foundation. From repairing the cracks and restabilizing your home to dehumidification and waterproofing, we won’t leave your side until your home is safe and dry once more. All you need to do is contact us to book a free inspection appointment – our team will do the rest. Our experts service homes in St. Louis, Kansas City, Moberly, Des Moines and Springfield.