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How Quickly Can Water Damage a Foundation

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

Water damage to a foundation is typically an evolving process. But, it can occasionally manifest as a sudden event, too. Concrete foundations are generally sturdy and long-lasting—many existing homes built in the 1920s still have intact “original equipment” foundations with no modifications or repairs. However, the geology of the site where the house was constructed, the natural local weather patterns and even the attention to maintenance provided by its owners are variables that influence foundation water damage and the speed at which it may occur.

Here are some examples of slow and fast foundation water damage:

  • Natural groundwater. Rising ground water beneath a foundation may be a feature of local geology that occurs seasonally or year-round. Over a period of years, continuous upward pressure from rising water may permeate foundation concrete. It may generate foundation cracks, trigger leakage into the basement and generally degrade the structural integrity of the foundation.
  • Absorbent soil. Certain soil types drain water efficiently and dry rapidly. However, other types, particularly expansive soil or clay, retain a large volume of water during rainy seasons and expand, exerting lateral pressure against foundation walls. As time passes, this on/off water damage may crack the foundation and eventually even make the house shift or “heave,” causing severe structural issues.
  • Plumbing leaks. A leaky or ruptured plumbing line within or below the foundation provides a 24/7 source of water likely to fast-track foundation damage. While water damage such as foundation deterioration and cracking that results from ongoing plumbing leaks is similar to that due to natural causes, the rate of progression is accelerated and the effects will be more rapidly evident.  
  • Flooding. Outdoor floodwater moving just 10 mph exert as much stressful force on the house structure including the foundation as winds in excess of 250 mph. In just a matter of minutes, flooding may separate the house structure from the foundation. Floodwater also rapidly penetrates beneath the ground surface, undermining the foundation, moving and breaking foundation pilings and causing the entire foundation to shift.

Water Damage Causes: Foundation Cracks

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020
water damage foundation cracks

While water damage causes foundation cracks and other issues, this same process is likewise the origin of indoor or structural damage that frequently ensues later on. Because a concrete foundation is porous, water pooling on the surface or contained in the soil surrounding the home soaks into the concrete foundation and initiates gradual deterioration. Eventually, foundation cracks develop and/or the foundation destabilizes. Subsequent water damage causes a variety of long-term issues including the following:

Basement Damage

Water infiltration through a cracked foundation can be an intermittent problem as groundwater occasionally seeps upward through a cracked basement floor or leaks through damaged basement walls.  Eventually, however, occasional water damage causes long-term issues inside the basement, such as toxic mold growth as well as rotting exposed wooden structure. Vulnerable electrical components like the main breaker panel installed in the basement are at risk from water, as are the home’s furnace and HVAC ductwork. A finished basement usually includes drywall that readily absorbs water and deteriorates, as well as carpeting and other materials susceptible to damage.

Structural Changes

Defects in the house structure are also among the water damage causes that can that be traced back to foundation issues.  During winter weather, water infiltrating foundation cracks may freeze and expand, gradually deforming and/or shifting the foundation. As changes in the foundation may eventually cause separation at the joints between exterior walls and/or between walls and the roof, subsequent water damage occurs to the structure during rainy weather.

Plumbing Issues

Among the major water damage causes inside a home, broken pipes rank high on the list. These events may actually be initiated, however, by previous foundation water damage. When severe outdoor flooding—or long-term standing water from any cause—occurs, the ground beneath a house may become unstable and the foundation may gradually tilt and/or sink. Foundation instability and movement eventually stress house plumbing, particularly water supply lines, potentially triggering an indoor pipe rupture that causes flooding inside the house.

How to Stop Foundation Water Damage to Your Home

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Every element of your home’s structure ultimately relies on an intact foundation. A damaged or deteriorating foundation undermines the stability and strength of the entire house. What’s worse, a permanent fix can be exceedingly costly—a major reason why a defective foundation is often a deal-breaker when a home’s up for sale. Ironically, one of the biggest threats to the integrity of that solid concrete structure supporting your house is simply water.

Chronic exposure to water deteriorates concrete foundations and also undermines the soil supporting it. Here are some ways to keep water and foundation separated and avoid highly expensive consequences.

Manage Drainage

Grade landscape so water flows away from the foundation. The slope away from the house should decline by at least 6 inches over a 10-foot distance. For best results, create the graded slope using dense soil such as clay that carries water away instead of absorbing it.

If drainage by grading isn’t adequate, consider adding a french drain around the foundation perimeter. Installed in a gravel-filled trench about two feet deep, a perforated plastic pipe conveys accumulating ground water away from the house to a deeper portion of the yard.

Maintain Gutters

Clogged, overflowing gutters pound water deep into the soil adjacent to the foundation during heavy rain. Chronic moisture from saturated soil infiltrates the pores of a cement foundation as well as seeping through cracks and crevices, causing ongoing deterioration. Keep gutters flowing freely and extend downspouts to discharge water at least three feet (more is better) from the house.

Resolve Plumbing Issues

Water supply lines are frequently routed beneath the slab foundation of a home. Unseen leakage from these pipes can erode supporting soil, causing the foundation to shift and crack. If a hidden plumbing leak is suspected due to unexplained water bill increases or other signs, have it checked out by a qualified plumber.

Install A Sump Pump

In some locales, the continuous pressure of natural ground water rising under the foundation causes deterioration and seepage. A sump pump installed in the foundation or basement floor relieves pressure by collecting water and automatically pumping it outdoors.

What Does Water Damage To The Foundation Mean For My Home?

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

foundation water damageWater damage to the foundation of a home occurs in various ways. The consequences and cures are equally varied. It’s never welcome news to hear that your home’s most fundamental structure may be compromised in any way. However, it’s critical to know the facts and take corrective actions as soon as possible to prevent a bad situation from becoming even worse. Here’s how water damage to the foundation can happen and what it means.

Foundation damage may be non-structural or structural.

  • Non-structural water damage normally refers to seepage through small cracks in a foundation or cracks or gaps in joints of a concrete basement wall.
  • Structural damage to the foundation occurs when damage caused by water is prolonged and extensive. The house begins to shift under its own weight. Vertical stability is undermined and the structure often sinks further into the ground. Also, basement walls may begin flexing inward as they become structurally unsound.

Dealing with water damage to the foundation.

  • Remedies for limited, non-structural damage are generally not considered major projects. First, reduce the water content of soil around the foundation. Correct sources of water such as overflowing gutters or landscape grading that pools water near the foundation. An underground exterior drain tile may also be installed to carry soil water away from the house. Basement waterproofing techniques include injecting sealant into cracks in the wall or floor and/or installation of an exterior waterproofing membrane. Where rising ground water is permeating the foundation, installation of a sump pump is also recommended.
  • Re-stabilizing a foundation once structural damage occurs due to long-term water damage is often an extensive and expensive undertaking. After eliminating sources of underground water, a sinking foundation can be restored to original level with the installation of underground hydraulic supports (called “piers”) driven through the foundation footing. A basement wall flexing inward can be stabilized with carbon fiber or steel straps. The sooner professional intervention occurs, the more favorable and less costly the outcome will be.

For more about viable options when water damage to the foundation of your home, contact the experts at Rytech, Inc.

What To Do When Water Damages Your Home’s Foundation

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

foundation damageHow water can damage a home foundation is often a mystery to homeowners, especially those who’ve never been affected. The fact is, however, tough, heavy concrete is actually microscopically porous and quite vulnerable to moisture. With enough ground water under sufficient pressure, moisture eventually penetrates concrete pores and triggers deterioration. The result can be cracks in basement walls, shifting of the foundation, as well as water damage caused by infiltration into the basement or subfloor of the house.

Thinking about how water can damage a home foundation, all causes have one thing in common: excess water volume in soil. Here are some ways to reduce ground water around the foundation.

  • Maintain gutters. Roof runoff during heavy rain pounds the ground around the perimeter of the foundation, pushing water deep into the soil and exerting pressure against basement walls. Eventually, seepage enters the basement space. Make sure gutters are functional and not clogged and overflowing. Gutter downspouts should be long enough to discharge water well away from the foundation perimeter.
  • Install a drain tile. An underground drainage system, a typical drain tile consists of a four-inch diameter perforated plastic pipe installed in a bed of gravel. Typically the drain tile excavation runs around the exterior footing of the basement walls to collect and drain water away from the basement and foundation.
  • Grade the landscape. Pooling next to the house after a heavy rain is another source of ground water that may eventually penetrate the foundation. The soil should be graded in a gentle slope away from the house to divert water into the yard before it is absorbed.
  • Utilize a sump pump. To relieve hydrostatic pressure underneath the foundation, a sump pump basin excavated in the basement floor collects rising ground water. The pump automatically activates and pumps the water out of the basement to an outdoor discharge point. In areas of naturally high water table, a sump pump may collect enough water to activate multiple times each day.

To learn more about how water can damage a home foundation as well as effective steps to prevent it, contact Rytech, Inc.

3 Ways Water Can Damage Your Home’s Foundation

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

It’s sometimes surprising how water can damage a home’s foundation. After all, a typical residential foundation is a thick slab of poured cement set into the ground or heavy mortar blocks. What harm could a liquid like water do? As it turns out, water can affect the foundation in a number of ways, both directly and indirectly. Under the right conditions and given enough time, water can make expensive foundation repairs necessary, as well as infiltrate the house and cause indoor water damage. Here are three ways water can damage a home’s foundation.

  1. water can damage home foundationExternal pressure. If the local soil drains efficiently, rainwater quickly penetrates deep into the ground and is carried away. However, if the soil is dense and absorbent the ground surrounding the house swells, exerting significant pressure against foundation walls. In time, this pressure causes cracks and gaps and water seepage into the basement. As disintegration continues, foundation walls may eventually tip or rotate inward, requiring major foundation rehab work.
  2. Ground water. In areas where the local water table rises near the surface, it may push against the underside of the foundation. Called “hydrostatic pressure,” this force of rising ground water is powerful and continuous. While it’s not likely to lift the foundation out of the ground, it will infiltrate water into the basement through cracks and joints that widen over time, and even permeate solid concrete. A tile drainage system to divert ground water away and a sump pump installed in the basement floor are preventive measures against foundation damage.
  3. Pooling. Water pooling on the surface around the perimeter of the house eventually degrades concrete and mortar foundations. The most frequent cause is landscaping that slopes toward the house, instead of away. This causes rainwater to pool close to the house where it seeps down into the foundation. Other causes include clogged, overflowing rain gutters that cascading water to the ground, or downspouts that are too short and allow discharged water to flow back toward the house.

For solutions to the many ways water can damage a home’s foundation, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.

4 Key Ways Water Damage Can Wreak Havoc on Home Foundations

Monday, November 4th, 2013

water damage

Water damage represents one of the worst threats to the integrity to the basement or foundation. Since the base of your home is what the rest of sits on, being aware of these problems can help you avoid problems down the road: (more…)