There is no room for homeowners to use presumptive or wishful thinking when it comes to a sound foundation intended to preserve the structural integrity of the home. Even a newly built home is going to go through significant settling in its first five years after completion of construction. No matter what you might do to mitigate foundational distress, you must face the fact that the foundation will move. Therefore, the one presumptive conclusion you can count on as a homeowner is the need to comply with a required maintenance program, not only as a condition of any warranty agreements, but also to reduce the effects of movement that tend to undermine how your house was originally intended to function.
A house built on a strong foundation is meant to stand. However, the stability of bearing soil is dependent upon protecting it from the natural effects of erosion from the elements. As a responsible homeowner, one good habit to establish is to address common check points in sequence as a matter of course to reduce movement. This is equally important before and following foundation repair, should the need arise, to preserve both the foundation and the structure it was originally intended to support.
Foundation maintenance companies like Seagate Roofing and Foundations are a great source to use for knowledge and practice as you develop your own procedures to follow. The single destructive element that can do the most damage to your foundation is water. Therefore, it is so important to understand grading and slope. Your primary goal for water is in keeping it properly draining away from the foundation. Slope maintenance must be a priority in maintaining positive drainage conditions.
Your regular maintenance checklist should include but not be limited to the following items:
Homes are built above the surrounding terrain purposely for drainage away from the structure. Within periods of regular weather and the increasing and prolonged periods of drought, the effects on the soil are significant. Look for signs of where water is either sitting or ponding. These areas should be re-contoured to establish a positive slope away from the building.
Perimeter grounds can be stomped or compacted periodically using a heavy 4x4 piece of wood. Add clay-like soil to correct slope as necessary. Ground cover such as gravel or mulch help to reduce soil erosion as well as limit the times you may need to improve the ground surface. Flatwork such as sidewalks and patios are useful in preventing evaporation and reducing under-slab seepage.
Select plants that fit your environment including drought-resistant species. Plant with an understanding of mature growth considering distance and watering patterns. Root barriers are useful when needing to eliminate penetration beneath the slab. Plan when it comes to trees as they can be the cause of foundation instability or even failure between the root capillary action and the potential of tree limbs invading the footprint of the house.
These are but a few of the necessary recommendations you should heed when performing regular foundation maintenance. The items to inspect are greater than what is shared here, and the help of a foundation maintenance company could come in handy as you prepare your own program. Once you accept foundation maintenance as a ritual you must keep, your vigilance can be taken in stride as will your familiarity with your home and the signs of what to look for before damage is already done.