Whether you are buying, selling, or just living in your house, you should take a look at what’s supporting your house….your foundation. And you should have at least one home inspection performed on your property by a professional inspector to identify any foundation issues on your home and if necessary, consult with a structural engineer or other professional qualified to detemine level of concern and develop a solution, and still another contractor to perform a solution.
- Look for separation or cracks on the floor to see whether insects or water is entering property. If you are covered by a termite protection system with a company, you can ask them to perform a service inside the home where there are natural openings or cracks discovered in your slab floor. If there is water coming through the floor, then consult a water foundation solution inspector to reveal where water is coming from and develop a solution.
- Look under kitchen and bathroom sinks on main floor. I once found a 6″ mound of dirt (i.e., termites) coming through the floor up through the lower under sink cabinet…If you find termites, call your pest control company.
Some comments about slab foundations
- If there are vents in your crawlspace, make sure they have screens on them to prevent rodents or insects from accessing the crawlspace.
- Previous rule of thumb was 1 square foot of vent per 150 square feet in crawl space.
- Most inspectors recommend that there be a vent within 3 feet of the corner of the crawl space.
- Vapor Barrier: Usually sections of plastic sheeting material (overlapped by 6-12 inches) laying on top of exposed dirt floor of crawl space blocking moisture from the ground eating away and damaging supports and floor joists under the main floor of the home.
- Insulation installed properly (paper facing toward conditioned space) against your floor between the floor joists to reduce heating/cooling costs. Be sure that if insulation is installed, that it is checked regularly that it remains attached and doesn’t fall away from the flowing and hang or fall to ground.
- Footings under the outside walls or under the center or strategic concrete block or other types of columnar support structures may be sinking, cracked, leaning, mortar eroded, made of wood materials (which can rot or be infested with termites and lose structural integrity) or otherwise unsafe.
Source of water leaks:
Normally, pipes inside the home don’t leak, but you still need to check them. If water is seen inside the home after hard rains, then check area immediately surrounding the perimeter of the home after the rain. It could be as simple as cleaning out your gutters since waterfalls can develop after leaves block flow of water. Normally I have seen splash guards pointed back to the foundation and were never properly turned around to displace water from downspouts away from the home.
- Landscaping the grade of the yard to slope water away from foundation.
- Place black corrugated drain tubes to the down spouts to divert water away from the foundation and let water flow somewhere else.
Word for today is – efflorescence: a glistening/reflective growth on interior crawl or basement walls indicating moisture penetration.
Cracks: A few words about cracks…there will be no concrete floor/wall anywhere that will not have cracks…most are relatively minor in nature and due to normal expansion and contraction; shrinkage; settlement; the appropriate mixture of materials (water, cement, gravel, etc…); or normal curing cycle/time of concrete itself. But if the cause can’t be explained by a simple reason, then a professional may need to be consulted.
Abnormal cracks, those identified by a qualified professional inspector, usually reflect the movement or shift of masonry.
Brick mortar: Mortar is the “glue” holding the bricks together. Mortar can disintegrate over time and will require reapplication (repointing) by a masonry professional.
Walls: If you see a wall leaning or cracked and displaced (one section sits further out from wall than the other), then you should call in a foundation expert to discuss solutions.
Floor joists can be over spanned (longer than load can handle) and can bow and cause dip in flooring; or can be split/drilled/cut or notched to compromise structural integrity of the support. Good news is that splicing pieces or replacing the joist itself can be performed.
References to products and services are not a specific endorsement, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others.