This can lead to the foundation settling, which in turn causes cracks and other structural problems.

The best way to protect any building is to treat minor foundation issues as a warning sign – and call for a foundation inspection. Cracks in a pier and beam foundation or cracks in brick, mortar, tile, or sheetrock may only be signs of normal settling, but only a professional foundation engineer can make that determination.

It’s important to have a foundation engineer do a proper inspection of your building’s foundation to identify any damage and help assess proper action to take, if any, in preventing future damage.

What is a Foundation Engineer?

foundation engineer is someone who inspects foundations for cracks, settling, creep, or sliding. Foundations engineers are tasked with the responsibility of inspecting the building’s foundations for any signs of instability. The inspection is done visually and is typically followed by geotechnical testing.

How Does a Foundation Engineer Inspect the Building’s Foundations?

A foundation engineer performs a visual foundation inspection of the building’s foundation looking for signs of damage and strain. If any of these signs are found, or the engineer feels it is necessary, then they will continue on to the geotechnical stage which involves testing the soil/soil conditions and setting up a monitoring system to keep an eye out for any settling that is occurring.

Why Is It Important to Have an Inspection Done by a Professional?

It’s important to have an inspection done by a professional because they can find any issues that you may not be able to see on your own. Having the engineers there also helps save time and money since they have the equipment to identify problems that are hidden deep within the ground.

The Risks of Not Having an Inspection Done

Being able to inspect the building’s foundations is important because it allows engineers to find anything that may be causing instability. This can keep a building from moving and cracking, which could make it unsafe to use or inhabit in the long run. By not getting an inspection done, there is a chance that damage that would have been fixed could get worse, and end up being more expensive to fix. The risks of not having an inspection done include the building not being able to support its own weight, not being able to properly function or stay standing.

What Does a Foundation Engineer Do When They Find Settlement in a Building?

If an engineer finds that the building is sinking, then they will look into what caused this movement and make recommendations on how to fix it before it gets worse. The foundation engineer will prepare their inspection report and advise the home/building owner on a repair plan. The repair plan can then be executed by a qualified contractor.

Foundation engineers are tasked with the responsibility of inspecting the building’s foundations for any signs of instability. The inspection is done visually and is typically followed by geotechnical testing. If any of these signs are found, then they will continue on to the geotechnical stage which involves testing soil/soil conditions and setting up a monitoring system to keep an eye out for any settling that may occur. This process can help save time and money since it identifies problems that would otherwise be hidden deep within the ground.

It’s important to have this type of inspection done because not doing so could cause more damage than necessary in both residential and commercial buildings or structures. If you are in need of a foundation inspection, contact Independent Foundation Engineers, serving Plano and neighboring areas.

You just bought a home in Fort Worth…and at the closing, you got some paperwork about an existing “Foundation Warranty”. That sounds like a good thing since you were told that homes in North Texas are typically built on clay soils which can sometimes settle and damage the foundation.

Now, if you find a broken pier or a crack in your slab, does the warranty automatically cover any foundation repair? The answer may depend on the type of warranty, the age of the home, the nature of the damage, and the individual builder or foundation repair contractor who provided the warranty.  Let’s take a closer look.

Which Types of Warranties Cover the Foundation?

Home Warranty 

A home warranty typically covers major household systems such as HVAC, hot water, plumbing, and electrical. It may also cover kitchen and laundry appliances installed by the builder. However, the foundation, roof, and other structural elements of the home are not covered.

Builder’s Warranty

One of the most comprehensive home structural warranties is the builder’s warranty on a new home. This type of warranty may cover all materials and workmanship from roof to foundation. Depending on the builder, the warranty may cover foundation defects for up to five years, and in some cases, the warranty can be transferred to the next owner when the house is sold.

Foundation Repair Warranty

A foundation repair warranty covers only the repair work performed by a contractor or foundation repair company. Warranty coverage may be for a term of years, or in some cases, a “lifetime” warranty is provided.

What is Not Covered Under a Foundation Warranty?

What all warranties have in common is the promise to make good on (1) any defect in the work performed; (2) by builders or foundation repair companies who provided the warranty; (3) for the term of the warranty period; and (4) while the provider of the warranty is still in business.

Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Foundation Repairs?

Homeowners insurance covers the structure of your home, including the foundation. However, like all other coverage provided by your policy, the foundation is only protected against the covered perils which are specifically named in your policy.

Covered perils may include fire, vehicle crash, or water damage from an overflow of your HVAC or plumbing systems. You may need separate coverage for flood, windstorm, or earthquake, all of which can cause foundation damage — and none of which are typically covered by a homeowner’s policy.

When Would a Foundation Warranty be Considered Void?

A foundation warranty can be voided by various actions (or failures to act) by the homeowner:

Do All Builders and Foundation Repair Companies Offer Foundation Warranties?

Many do not. When you need foundation repair, consult a qualified foundation engineer to provide a foundation inspection and to help you choose a foundation repair company that will provide a warranty, and can back up that warranty with a solid reputation for satisfied customers.

Independent Foundation Engineers has helped hundreds of Fort Worth families with foundation repairs. Visit our website or to speak with an expert advisor today, call (214) 769-8355.

Who analyze the dynamic relationship between a building site’s unique characteristics and the given specifications of a particular structure.

Builders have long understood the fundamental importance of a well-laid foundation. Some Egyptian, Greek, and Roman columns still stand after thousands of years, mainly because their builders knew that the sub-structure of a building is in some ways more important than the super-structure.

The Gospel of Matthew includes the parable of The Wise and Foolish Builders: “And the rains came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation upon the rock.”

Foundation engineers focus on the substructure; that portion of a building that rests on the surrounding soil to support the load of the superstructure and protect it from the elements.

Foundation engineering may be involved in designing construction plans for a building substructure, or they may be called upon to consult on a foundation repair, developing remedies for foundation issues found or suspected beneath an existing building.

Foundation Design: Site, Soil, and Structure

The Site. Before designing a foundation repair plan, the foundation engineer begins by studying the basic site survey. The lot may be level, low-lying, on a hillside, in a flood zone or near a body of water. Each of these are elements that must be factored into the design of an effective foundation. A poorly drained site will require techniques that move the rainwater away from the house. A hillside site may require planning to convey a neighbor’s water across the property to street drains or rural ditching.

The Soil. Before a new house or subdivision is built, a geotechnical survey may find that the soil under the new building is clay, sand, or rock, infirm or lose strata, helping the builder determine factors such as load-bearing, water retention and the prospect of soil expansion or subsidence. In North Texas, expansive clay soil is common, requiring specific techniques to avoid foundation damage from the swelling and shrinking of the soil which can be caused by alternating periods of rain and drought.

The Structure. The building design is a complete system of walls, beams, and joists which work together to support the whole.

Based on the site, soil and structure, an appropriate deep or shallow sub-structure will be built, which may include footings, pilings, piers or different types of concrete slab, with the primary design objective of transferring the building load to the ground, while avoiding any future negative effects of unusual topography, soil instability or harsh local weather.

Common Foundations: Slabs, Piers, and Pilings

Most modern homes use a slab-on-grade foundation, where concrete is poured directly onto a prepared surface.  Depending on the characteristics of the soil and the structure, the slab may be a supported slab, which rests on the same footing as the building walls; a monolithic slab, which incorporates the slab and footing in the same concrete pour; or a floating slab, which touches the footing at an expansion joint. Sometimes the slab and footing are reinforced with steel rods to prevent cracking, and the slab may be poured on a base of gravel, to facilitate drainage.

Some homes are built with piers built of concrete. Piers raise the floor joists of the structure above the ground, leaving a crawl space. In coastal areas, the builder may raise the structure even higher above the ground on pilings, allowing floodwaters or storm surge to pass under the building without damaging the structure or contents.

Foundation Maintenance: How Foundation Engineers Prevent Costly Foundation Problems

Issues. As a building begins to age, the foundation can be threatened by changes such as soil movement, water intrusion, or a seismic event. Initial effects may be minor, such as a door that sticks or a crack in wall plaster. However, if left uncorrected, minor issues can lead to major structural problems.

Inspection.  The best way to protect any building is to treat minor foundation issues as a warning sign – and call for a foundation inspection. Cracks in a pier and beam foundation or cracks in brick, mortar, tile, or sheetrock may only be signs of normal settling, but only a professional foundation engineer can make that determination.

Reporting. The work product of an engineer’s inspection is the professional inspection report. The foundation engineer’s report has many uses when an authoritative finding is required. A home buyer may wish to be assured that a floor crack can be permanently repaired. A home seller may need to show that a wall crack is not a sign of a more serious problem.

Corrective Action. When a foundation problem is determined to be a significant threat to the integrity of the structure, a foundation engineer is best qualified to advise the homeowner or contractor on a detailed repair plan.

Repair plan. The foundation engineer draws up a foundation repair plan based on the inspection and subsequent analysis. The plan can then be executed by a qualified contractor. The foundation engineer may also be called to approve completed work done by a contractor for city permitting procedures.

Maintenance. A good foundation engineer’s report provides the basis for an effective maintenance plan. The foundation engineer should also recommend improvements such as lot drainage or modest repairs which can prevent a minor issue from becoming a major problem.

Monitoring. After repairs or maintenance issues have been addressed, the foundation engineer’s report will continue to serve as a guide for the homeowner or contractor, to follow up and monitor whether a slab repair or a new drainage system has been effective.

For more details, please visit Independent Foundation Engineers at https://foundationprofessor.com, or to schedule an inspection, call IFE today at (214) 769-8355.

If you think there may be a problem with your foundation, it’s essential to act immediately. Most foundation problems start small and easy to fix, but they may point to hidden conditions that must be corrected.

Ignoring a foundation issue can lead to some of the most expensive home repairs.

Foundation Problem Repair Costs

Every foundation is laid on a unique building site that presents a particular combination of grading, soil type, drainage, and local weather. Over time, the soil under a foundation (including the clay soils across much of North Texas) can expand by holding water or can shrink during dry spells. This swelling and sinking can cause cracks and other problems in your foundation and walls.

Most of the time, this soil settling becomes stable on its own, perhaps requiring only a cosmetic repair of a wall crack or a floor tile. However, in some cases, a soil movement or water drainage problem can worsen, leading to costly repairs or even unsafe conditions for you and your family.

In this article, we’ll review how much you might pay for common foundation repairs when an expert opinion is needed, and where to go for help.

What Does it Cost to Repair a Crack?

A crack in your slab, floor, or wall may be the first indication of a foundation problem. The crack may have been caused by normal settling of the soil, by a drainage problem or even by tree roots pushing against the foundation.

Whatever the cause, you now have two important objectives:

First, try to determine the probable cause of the crack so that you can take immediate action to correct the underlying issue. Don’t wait. If the cause is apparent, get rid of tree roots, fix gutters, or re-grade near the house to move water away. If the cause of the crack is not obvious, hire a foundation engineer to inspect.

Second, evaluate the crack itself. If it is wider than 1/8-inch, the root cause could be severe, and you should call for a professional inspection. If the crack is 1/8-inch or less, you may be able to repair it yourself, patching and repainting an interior plaster wall, replacing a floor tile, or filling an exterior foundation crack with waterproof concrete filler. These DIY repairs can be handled for $20 to $50, or if you would rather call a professional, the cost of material and labor should be under $300.

In any event, don’t try to wish the problem away. If a crack in your foundation or an exterior wall is left unfilled, it will hold moisture in the summer and ice in the winter, causing further deterioration.

What Does it Cost to Repair Water Damage?

If your lot is poorly drained or water is allowed to gather in pools near the house, your foundation can be damaged by prolonged exposure.

If you see water in your basement or if you feel the moisture in the plaster, your foundation is exposed to water damage. Other signs of potential damage include chalky deposits on interior walls or concrete flakes, which are loose and easily removed. Protecting a soaked foundation will require two lines of attack: one to keep water away from the house, and another to repair the damage already done.

When rainwater is falling from the roof and pooling near the foundation or in the crawlspace, use gutters and downspouts to move water away. The national average for installing new gutters on an average size home is about $1000. Improving water diversion from existing gutters may cost $100 or less, but will provide essential protection.

When you spot water pooling in plantings or elsewhere on your lawn, move water away by filling low spots with native soils of Texas clay, ditching, digging a French drain or surface drain system, or using other techniques that can cost $100 or less. Should you call in a landscape professional, effective grading or drainage jobs may cost $300 to $500.

Once water is prevented from gathering near the house, a foundation contractor may excavate around the slab or piers, improving drainage, repairing any cracks, and applying a waterproof sealant. Depending on the size of your home and the techniques used, total repair costs may vary from $2,000 to $8,000.

What Does it Cost to Level a Sinking Foundation?

When shrinking or swelling causes serious damage to walls, floors, and foundation, a foundation engineer may recommend various techniques for supporting or lifting the foundation to its original position.

Piering & Underpinning is the most costly repair solution, but it is also the most permanent. This type of repair involves digging under the slab to place piers and using hydraulic jacks to lift the foundation to correct the deflection. Each pier can cost $500 to $3,000, so an extensive repair may cost $6,000 to $15,000.

Three Rules for Avoiding Costly Foundation Repairs

  1. Stay alert for common warning signs. Minor cracks can be filled before they are allowed to get worse. Landscaping can be modified to keep water and roots away from the house. Drainage problems on your property can be corrected before they cause foundation damage.
  2.  Monitor any previous signs of trouble. Is that crack in the slab the same or getting more prominent? Are the doors sticking? Are the exterior walls remaining level? Has there been any more moisture in the basement? When you probe the foundation, is the concrete firm, or is there any loose material?
  3. Call for backup. Should you spot signs of trouble or just aren’t sure — hire a foundation engineer to take a look. If they find nothing, that’s great. You can sleep soundly, and if you ever sell the house, you can show their report to your buyer. But if they do find trouble, you’ll get expert advice on how to repair the damage, and how to eliminate the cause.

For more details, please visit Independent Foundation Engineers, or to schedule an inspection, call IFE today at (214) 769-8355.

There may come a day when you look at a familiar wall and wonder: Were those cracks in the walls always there, or did they just happen? What would cause the plaster to crack like that?

The good news is that, in most cases, cracks in walls don’t reflect anything seriously wrong with your home. Most wall cracks are cosmetic and easy to fix. In this article, you’ll learn how to examine a simple wall crack, and how to make it disappear with an easy and inexpensive repair. You’ll also learn a few signs that could indicate a more serious problem, and what you should do to protect your home investment. If you are ever in doubt, call an independent foundation engineer to do an evaluation of your home before the problem escalates.

The most common cracks in walls are caused by slight movements of the structure known as “settling.” In a new home, the frame and walls are assembled using new materials that can move slightly, as green wood becomes dry and as the weight of the structure settles on the building site.

This slight movement of a rigid wall creates stresses, particularly in the hard parts of the wall. Plaster, brick, and mortar are unable to flex or twist, so the wallboard may come apart at the joint or may crack in a weaker area of the plaster, such as over a door or window.

Cracks in Walls Can Develop in Homes of any Age 

If your home is new and the movement was caused by the drying of the building materials or the settling weight of the house, it might be a good idea to wait up to a year to let the house finish this normal process. Otherwise, as the house continues to settle, a repaired crack might re-appear.

Other causes include variations in temperature or humidity levels, which sometimes occur in vacation houses or homes which are vacant for sale. Changing temperatures cause materials to expand and contract, which can crack plaster, bath tiles, and flooring.

A more serious cause of cracks in walls, floors, and ceiling cracks is the movement of the soil under the structure. Extreme cold or heavy rain can cause the ground under the house (or just a part of the house) to sag downward or heave upward, sometimes causing structural damage. How can you tell whether a crack is merely cosmetic or a sign of a more serious problem? Examine the damage closely. If it’s mostly hairline cracks, less than 1/8-inch wide and dry, they are most likely caused by settling and do not merit much worry.

Even when drywall cracks are less than 1/8-inch, you should check closely for any moisture or water damage, which could indicate a roof or wall leak. Look for discoloration near the crack. Feel the drywall panels with your fingertips. If there is any sign of moisture, you will need to locate the leak and call a roofer. If the crack is dry and if there is no reason (such as recent freezes or flooding) to suspect movement of the foundation, then a simple plaster repair is in order.

DIY Wall Repair 

In most modern homes, interior walls are assembled using vertical studs which are faced by gypsum wallboard. Large sheets of wallboard cover walls and ceiling and the joints are hidden using tape and plaster compound. A long, straight crack is probably a separation right at the joint between two sheets. When the crack is crooked, you can still use the DIY approach outlined below.

A good repair will require cleaning out the crack with a flat-bladed tool such as a putty knife to remove all loose material. Plaster that has lifted from the wall, loose tape, and any other debris should be scraped away until the remaining material around the crack has tightly adhered to the wall.

Next, the crack should be sanded thoroughly to remove all rough edges, leaving a smooth valley in place of the crack. Then vacuum or sweep away the gypsum dust, wipe the repair site clean with a moist cloth and allow the wallboard to dry.

Wall cracks should not be filled with spackling compound, as that material is best for small holes only. For wallboard, use joint tape and wallboard compound. DIY stores sell joint tape in rolls and compound in 5-gallon buckets. However, it may be possible to buy a repair kit with just the amount you need. The joint tape is a fiberglass netting which reinforces the repair. The compound should be applied in a series of thin layers that are allowed to dry and sanded between each layer.

Pro Tip: If you take your time here, working in thin layers and sanding smooth between each layer, your repair will be invisible and will last for many years. However, if you rush and apply the compound too thickly, it will crack as it dries and the repair will be both visible and weak.

Signs of Potentially Serious Foundation Issues 

As noted earlier, if there are signs of moisture, contact a roofer or building contractor. When any cracks in the walls, ceiling cracks, or floor cracks are very long, wider than ¼-inch, or when there is a visible “stair-step” outlining concrete blocks or bricks – these cracks may be indicative of foundation problems and should be evaluated by a foundation engineer.

Foundation engineers are trained to inspect your house and evaluate the entire weight-bearing system which includes the building, the particular type of foundation, characteristics of the underlying soil, and the effects of any external factors such as drought, freezing, or heavy rainfall.

A foundation engineer may find that there are no serious foundation issues necessitating a foundation repair and you can proceed with a cosmetic repair. However, only a qualified professional can evaluate your particular combination of structure, foundation, and local soil, so their advice is well worth a modest fee.

If your home is in North Texas, please visit Independent Foundation Engineers at https://foundationprofessor.com. To schedule an inspection, call IFE today at (214) 769-8355.

Unfortunately, when significant soil movement happens under a house, the result can be foundation problems.

Some foundation issues are not severe and may only present a cosmetic problem. In contrast, other problems can be serious enough to have a costly impact on the function of plumbing and electrical systems, or the basic structural safety (and resulting value) of the entire house.

If you own a home or plan on buying a home, you need to learn how to spot the common signs of foundation issues and determine whether you are looking at a simple DIY repair or a red flag that needs to be further evaluated by a foundation engineer.

Signs of Ordinary Foundation Settling

Fortunately, not all settling is a sign of serious foundation issues. In fact, in many cases, settling is entirely normal and does not require foundation repair to remedy issues it may cause.

New homes are built square, but over time, normal curing of the construction lumber and settling of the foundation can show up in a door which no longer fits perfectly, or a window that no longer operates smoothly.

The frames around doors and windows are more rigid than the adjacent walls, so this is where stress on a structure often shows up first. A door that is hard to open or will not latch could indicate that the frame has slightly moved out of square. The same goes for a window that is stuck or will no longer close. Above or near windows and doors, cracks in the wall plaster or floor tiles may also indicate stress caused by settling of the foundation.

These common new foundation issues do not necessarily indicate a serious problem, but they should be monitored, and they should prompt you to look for more serious signs. Whether you are the current homeowner or are planning on buying a home in the near future, small signs of foundation settling like a sticky door so that won’t close, or a crack in the sheetrock should motivate you to look deeper, for the warning signs of issues that could be more serious.

10 Ways to Check for Possible Foundation Issues

Are My Foundation Issues Serious?

If any of the foregoing tests give you a warning sign…or if you are just not sure… you may need to bring in a qualified foundation engineer for a professional home inspection. A foundation engineer will tell you what is really going on with the structure, the foundation, the soil, and the current conditions. At a minimum, they will advise you on problems meriting your attention and whether you need foundation repair. From that point, they can provide remedial plans or work with a contractor on getting foundation repairs permitted and approved.

Does Homeowners’ Insurance cover foundation Repair?

Your foundation is part of your home.

Consequentially, it is usually covered from typical hazards such as fire, windstorm, explosion, vehicle or aircraft damage, and water damage from an overflow of your plumbing or HVAC systems.

However, most home insurers specifically exclude your home’s foundation from coverage for damage due to natural settling and cracking, bulging or shrinking of the soil, pressure from tree roots, and flood or earthquake (although you may have a separate flood or earthquake policy).

Insurers will also reject any claim which can be traced to faulty construction, such as a poorly designed slab or a faulty mortar mix.

Likewise, if the insurer can blame the homeowner for negligence, such as failing to repair a swimming pool leak or planting a tree too close to the house, coverage will be denied.

What Does it Cost to Repair Foundation Issues?

Adjusting a door or getting a stubborn window to close on your home may only cost a bit of time and patience. Patching a wall crack, depending on the size, can be handled with a range of DIY repair kits which start at less than $10.

A small crack (less than 1/8-inch) in your wall, slab or pier can be painted over with concrete waterproofing for about $30 per gallon. The crack should be checked occasionally to determine whether the crack is stable or getting larger.

Should you note any of the 10 warning signs of serious foundation problems, you may need to schedule an inspection by a foundation engineer. Depending on the size of your home and the complexity of your foundation issues, this will cost from $500 to $800. Should the foundation engineer find nothing serious, the resulting peace of mind is well worth that cost…and should the inspection find the risk of damage to your foundation and structure or serious foundation issues, you will have taken an important first step toward safeguarding the value of your home.

Unstable walls may require steel braces or carbon fiber straps, which range from $300-700 each, spaced 6 feet apart at the site of the problem. Shoring up a foundation may require a series of $1500 piers or bolts every 6 to 8 feet. When a completely new foundation is required, the average cost is $50,000.

Should you buy a house with foundation problems? Certainly, as long as you rely on a professional inspection and take into account any remediation plan recommended by the foundation engineer.

For more details, please visit Independent Foundation Engineers at https://foundationprofessor.com, or to schedule an inspection to determine if you need foundation repairs, call IFE today at (214) 769-8355.

While it is true that nothing is softer than water…it is also true that nothing can resist the power of water to penetrate, undermine, and erode even the strongest materials. Water sometimes causes harm in a dramatic way, such as flooding…but more often, water on and under a property can quietly and invisibly damage the foundation, leading to further damage in the walls, floors, and plumbing or electrical systems. In this article, we will show you how to check your property for common drainage issues, how to solve common issues on your own, formulate a drainage plan, and when to seek advice from a professional foundation engineer.

Gutters and Downspouts

The roof of your home has two jobs: to keep you dry when it rains, and to send those hundreds of gallons of water away from the house. By catching the water in gutters and directing it into downspouts, you prevent the rainwater from saturating the soil around your walls and foundation. When rainwater flow is allowed to fall directly from the roof eaves, it erodes the soil and forms low spot pools which allow more water to stand and penetrate the soil directly at the foundation. Saturated soil also increases hydrostatic pressure, which pushes harder against the walls of a basement or the surface of a slab. This drainage issue can lead to water seeping into porous concrete, freezing and widening existing cracks, and repeated cycles of soaking and drying causes the soil to alternately swell and shrink, sometimes with enough force or persistence to break a concrete slab or a brick pier. To protect your foundation, the first line of defense is to keep your gutters clean and to make sure downspouts are directing water well away from the house, not just onto the ground. If necessary, you can add drainage pipes to move downspout water well away before allowing it to flow into the ground.

Grading

The soil under your house may have been backfilled and graded during construction. If so, it may not be compacted as tightly as the natural surrounding earth, allowing water to penetrate more easily near the foundation. Do your lawns provide gradual slopes away from the house? When heavy rain overwhelms the ability of your soil to absorb water, the excess must be directed away from your walls and foundation. Do surface depressions or sunken areas of your yard trap water? Does your patio or shed allow water to form puddles or flow back toward the house? When these issues call for moving water away from a trouble spot, a French or a surface drain are proven solutions. A surface drain is a simple ditch designed to improve landscape drainage, running a solid pipe through the problem spot to a location that is better drained.  What is a French drain? A perforated pipe is placed in a ditch and covered with gravel. As rainwater gathers near the French drain, it falls quickly through the gravel and is carried away by the pipe. A SWALE IS LIKE A SMALL EARTHEN DAM THAT REDIRECTS WATER.  IT IS NOT A DITCH. In some cases where rains are frequent and pooling water is extensive, it can become necessary to completely re-grade a property to keep water away from the foundation. A recurring problem should be evaluated by a foundation engineer.

Landscaping

Even small hedges and ornamental plants can help water penetrate the soil, clog drainage pipes, or widen small cracks anywhere in the foundation. To protect your foundation, remove landscape plantings that are too close to the house.

Patios and Walkways

The sidewalk in front of your home, the front walkway to the door, the patio, and the paved pathways along the sides of the house can act as either dams or aqueducts, depending on their level and pitch. A raised sidewalk may prevent water from flowing to the street. A concrete walkway that has been tilted by tree roots may be forcing water back toward the house. To evaluate these conditions, watch the water on your patio and walkways during heavy rain. If a walkway is interfering with drainage, one good strategy is to remove poured concrete and replace it with pavers and gravel, allowing water to both passes through the walkway and sink into the soil.

Moisture in the Basement

Hidden drainage problems often show up in a basement. Some basements are equipped with sump pumps to deal with intermittent water, but more subtle signs of moisture may also indicate a persistent drainage problem. These signs may include water stains, mildew, and masonry conditions such as efflorescence and spalling. Efflorescence is a white or gray crust forming on walls. Spalling is when the masonry flakes off in patches. Both conditions are caused by exposure to water. A superficial crust may not be a serious problem. However, when spalling is deeper than a half-inch, it is time to call for an inspection by a foundation engineer.

Sand, silt, and clay

If your lawns seem to be muddy in one spot and dry in others, take a look at the composition of the soil. The most basic types of soil are sand, silt, and clay. Sandy soil allows water to pass through quickly. In North Texas, the most common soils are clays, which tend to hold water. Fill earth is sometimes trucked into level building lots, so you may have a mixture of clay and other soils. Does your home have a pool? Pool builders sometimes use the excavated earth or other soil to backfill the structure, with varying effects on drainage. This should always be checked in clay soils. NTX clay soils will hold that water all day. This is not applicable to North Tex.

Preventing Erosion

If your home is built in a hilly area, you could find yourself dealing with rain from your own downspouts, plus your neighbor’s runoff. In such cases, you will definitely need a strategy for moving the combined runoff across your lawns, or you will lose soil to erosion every time it rains. One strategy is to provide a permanent catch basin which gathers water, traps any debris with a grate, and pipes the runoff across your yard to adjacent street drains. This can be very effective as long as the runoff is not carrying too much silt or debris, which can clog the pipe. Another effective solution is a dry creek bed. This is a functional landscape structure that directs rain and runoff through a small valley lined with stone or gravel. A dry creek bed can be designed as you would an attractive water feature, with an EPDM rubber liner to hold the rocks permanently in place, preventing the accumulation of soil between rocks and keeping the water moving efficiently.

When to Call an Expert

Should you find that despite your best efforts, drainage remains a problem…or if you should find signs of water damage such as basement spalling or cracks in your slab, walls or floors…it’s time to call a foundation engineer for an expert opinion. The engineer’s report will put you on the right path to permanent solutions, and long-term security for your home investment. For more information, please visit Independent Foundation Engineers at www.foundationprofessor.com, or to schedule an inspection, call IFE today at (214) 769-8355.