When You Might Need Foundation Repair
All buildings are constructed on top of (typically concrete) foundations to remain solid and secure, from the largest schools or libraries to the smallest suburban homes. Houses, in particular, may be built upon a number of foundation models, and some foundation models offer various features or advantages. A certified geologist on staff may be consulted before construction to ensure that foundation issues won’t arise, and foundation failure is something to be avoided. Otherwise, foundation repair experts may have to be called upon by the homeowner, and this may sometimes be expensive. All the same, someone who purchases a very old house (a “fixer-upper”) may call for foundation repair to get their basement in good working order. When is it time for foundation repair? What are the common foundation models in American homes today?
The Foundation Models
Various foundation models exist across the United States today, but four in particular are common and well-established. The first type is the “slab” model, which is exactly that: a slab of concrete that serves as a simple but solid foundation where a house may be built. This foundation model lacks some of the features and conveniences of the other types, but slab foundations are secure and may last for a long time, and many Texan homes younger than 50 years have them. A home that doesn’t need a basement and isn’t built in a flood-prone area may make good use of the slab model.
The second common model is the crawlspace, and this foundation type is named after the open crawl space that it offers. A crawlspace elevates the home 18″ off the ground, creating that space where workers and homeowners alike can visit to diagnose or fix problems with the foundation or plumbing. Not only is this space convenient for repairs, but the house is elevated over flooding water, helping to protect it from water intrusions. In flood-prone areas, this model may prove effective.
Another common model is the pillar and beam foundation. This particular foundation type also has a crawlspace, in addition to concrete and wooden pillars and beams underneath for support. This foundation model has proven popular and price friendly, but it should be noted that earthquakes may threaten it due to the pillars’ short length. A certified geologist on staff can be consulted to ensure that no nearby fault lines will damage it, or else foundation repair issues may be common for that homeowner. If an area is free of fault lines, this foundation model is safe to construct.
The fourth major type of foundation is the basement. This model is well known for adding a lot of square footage to a home, and many homeowners may appreciate the added storage space (or living space) that basements may provide. In addition, basements are known for being resistant to earthquakes and fire alike, making them a fine investment. It should be noted, however, that water is a major threat to basements, since they go deep into the ground and have a lot of open space. Plumbers may often be called upon in addition to foundation repair experts by homeowners with basements.
A crawlspace is a fine place to effect foundation inspections and repairs, and as basement may have foundation experts plug up water leaks if need be. Old basements were built from limestone brick, which cave in over time and develop cracks which leak water from rain-soaked soil. These basement walls can’t be pushed back into place, but contractors may build concrete walls to contain the bulging wall and its leaking water.
Meanwhile, a basement in a flood-prone area may sometimes leak water from the outside, and foundation experts should be called upon to fix this at once. In addition, plumbers can be called upon to install a sump pump, as well as channels that can redirect standing water to that pump at the basement’s lowest point. A sump pump may draw up loose water and deposit it outside the home, and for further water protection, a homeowner may ask plumbers to fix any leaking or damaged pipes on the ceiling. Standing water may foster mold growth with its excess moisture, and it may also erode the walls or floor over time and damage stored items or furniture down in the basement.