Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Foundation Problems: Water Is Not Our Friend!

The foundation is what holds up our home! As such, while doing routine checks outside our houses in the fall, we need to pay special attention to the quality and maintenance of our foundation.

There are many reasons your foundation could begin to erode,  especially depending on where you live in the country. For example, homes near saltwater bodies need to look closely for damage caused by salt air. Certain other areas have distinct types of soil that are highly compressible and can cause cracks. Problems can also arise simply due to poor maintenance.

But no matter where you live, water is usually the main component in foundation failure. I remember early in my Real Estate career learning from an old Home Inspector that “water is not our friend!”

Concrete is porous and water can leech in and during freeze/thaw cycles can crack the foundation. Walkways and patios need to pitch away from the house to divert the water. Downspouts and gutters need to be present and of sufficient size to take the water flowing off the roof away from the house. 

Pro Tip: Make sure that the downspouts are set in such a way that the water is not dumped too close to the house. Gutters can’t save you if the water coming out the downspout simply runs back towards the foundation! 

Unfortunately, water is always the greater force and sometimes our best efforts can’t keep away all damage. The good news is our houses often give off tell-tale warning signs of foundation damage before it becomes too late!

Rotted wood on the base of exterior door frames and windows can indicate a water problem, as well as sloping upper-level floors, horizontal or diagonal cracks in the foundation or walls, and efflorescence left on masonry surfaces, mainly on basement walls near foundation windows and corners where downspouts are located, usually identifiable by white minerals or stains. A moldy smell in the basement is also a big indication of a water problem.

 If you find any of these warning signs, have your foundation inspected immediately! Take it from me: it may not be as bad as you think, but delaying it will only make repairs more expensive. 

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago