Dealing with a Foundation Leak? Signs to Look For
Author: Irene Chen
Foundation leaks crop up for all kinds of reasons. It’s often difficult to tell, though, just how severe the leak you have on your hands is before the worst of the symptoms arise.
If you’re looking to sell your home, you’ll want to know what leakage signs to look out for. Once you’re able to identify a foundation leak, it’ll be easier to fix. But how can you fix a foundation leak, and what kind of budget should you have prepared for repairs?
When in doubt, reach out to local professionals for help fixing any foundation problems that have appeared in your home.
Table of Contents:
1. Foundation Damage: The Causes
Some homeowners assume that foundation cracks appear all at once. This isn’t the case. While a significant event, like local construction or a flash flood, can damage your foundation, you can just as easily place the blame on several small, repeat events.
Some of the most common reasons your foundation might crack include:
a) Excess dampness: If you live in an area that sees a significant amount of rain, you’re going to want to do everything you can to keep your foundation as dry as possible. If rainwater comes into contact with your foundation, it can not only erode the material you have in place, but it can also drastically change the temperature and cause your foundation to expand or contract. Rapid changes in the size of your foundation will cause it to crack, resulting in more significant leaks and even greater damage in the long run.
b) Overgrown tree roots: If you plant a tree too close to your home’s perimeter, its root system can disrupt your foundation. You can trim the roots back with the help of a professional, but it’s often safest and most cost-effective to plant your trees at least 20 feet away from your home.
c) Shifting soil: During a drought or after significant construction, the soil around your home may shift. This is an unavoidable and natural occurrence that can, unfortunately, compromise the structural integrity of your home.
d) Your foundation reacting to the weather: If your foundation is made out of concrete or brick, it will expand and contract in response to the weather. If the weather in your area changes often, consider talking with a local contractor about other materials to make your foundation out of. If you’re not careful, then your foundation may crack in an attempt to accommodate the elements.
e) Poor construction: Sometimes, home construction goes awry. Your foundation may simply not be strong enough to support your home and may crack as a result. This could be the result of weaker materials, cut corners during the construction, insufficient surveys, or rushed projects. The end result is that your foundation can’t handle the load.
2. Signs That Your Foundation May Have a Leak
You won’t always be able to tell the difference between a basement leak and a foundation leak. These leaks have similar symptoms and typically don’t reveal their worst until they’ve grown in size.
That said, there are some symptoms that are distinct to foundation leaks. If you think your foundation may be leaking, keep an eye out for:
a. Bowing walls
b. Shifting floors
c. Gaps at the joints of your foundation
d. Sticking doors
e. Foggy windows
f. Water-damaged belongings or furniture
If a leak is especially severe, you’ll begin to see its effects outside of your home. External signs of a foundation leak include:
a) Vertical cracks in your walls
b) A cracked chimney
c) Cracks running horizontally across your foundation
d) Signs of sinking
Note that these signs will appear over time as a leak grows more severe. You may not notice them right away, or may only realize their presence as you’re repainting or doing low-key home renovations. However, natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes can cause cracks to appear and grow exponentially. If this happens, an otherwise minor issue will quickly escalate into a problem that demands your immediate attention.
3. How to Handle a Leaking Foundation
What do you do if you want to sell your home, but the foundation’s showing signs of a persistent leak? You have two choices: you can either list the home as-is, or you can pay for foundation repairs.
If you choose to list your home without fixing any problems with the foundation, you risk losing 10 to 30 percent of your home’s resale value. Of course, this is because the next owners will need to make repairs of their own so as to ensure the home is livable, safe, and able to stand up to future events. This cost will get rolled over into the offer you’re given. Overall, 10 to 30 percent can be $100,000 in value – and not worth ignoring.
While repair myths might have you believe that foundation repair is unfairly expensive, this isn’t actually the case. You can break down the cost of some of the simplest solutions and come up with prices between $500 and $6,000. These solutions include:
A. Piering and/or underpinning: $1,000 to $3,000
B. Leveling and slabjacking: $500 to $1,300
C. Sealing and/or subfloor drainage: $2,000 to $6,000
Whatever you do, don’t delay fixing your foundation just to save money. If you let a foundation leak grow too large, you put yourself and your family at risk financially and in terms of your health. Homeowners who refuse to fix their foundations often have difficulty taking out mortgages and will have to pay more than listed here for repairs simply due to the breadth of the leak at hand.
4. Fix Your Foundation with Professional Help
Don’t waste time and money trying a DIY foundation repair solution. Instead, reach out to local professionals. With years of experience, they’ll help you save money, time, and worry while helping you reclaim your home’s value. This can make your home safer, save on energy costs, and ensure you and your family aren’t exposed to harmful things like mold, while also boosting its resale value.