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Protecting Your Building’s Foundation in the Spring

As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” Yes, March 20 – June 20 is a glorious time of year known as spring. The months of March through June provide much good: loads of sunshine, fresh breezes, welcome temperatures, longer days, and flowers, flowers, flowers. It also provides an abundance of water. Spring is the rainiest season in the Northern Hemisphere. One minute people are mowing their fast-growing yards, the next minute storm clouds roll in and unleash torrents of rain. So, while this season brings warmth and happiness, its copious amounts of water also can lead to damage to house foundations.

No one wants to spend summer repairing their home, so it’s best to protect the foundation in the spring. Fortunately, there are steps homeowners can take to minimize damage and thus expenses. The end result is a home that is structurally strong and safe for all its inhabitants.

Spelling the word SPRING, here are six ways homeowners can protect their foundations in the spring:

S: Search for debris that may cause blockages and thus problems. Quite often, gutters and downspouts become cluttered over the fall and winter. They become clogged with twigs, leaves, nests, insects, and more. Once gutters become fully blocked, water cannot drain properly and begins spilling over the side of the gutter. Rather than draining safely away from the home, the water congregates around the foundation of the home. This excess of water can cause a variety of damage. Further, search for downspouts that may have shifted over the winter. Make sure they are an adequate distance from the home, so the water is draining properly. Simply searching around one’s home to make sure all blockages are cleared and that water is draining properly is an inexpensive way to keep the foundation safe.

P: Plant trees safely away from the home’s foundation. Spring is time when many people want to plant trees, and often they plant them too close to the home. As the tree grows, the roots can begin to grow under the house. They will grow thicker and push through soil to unwelcome places. Eventually, the tree roots can damage the home’s plumbing pipes and begin affecting the stability of the foundation. Further, tree roots siphon water from the surrounding soil, drying it, which also can lead to movement of the home’s foundation. Ideally, most trees should be planted 25 to 30 feet from the home and possibly even further to be safe. Also, do some research to determine what is the best tree for your soil type and that will cause the least amount of damage to your foundation. Further, take note that trees near your home should be watered a minimum of twice a week in the summer. For trees that have become mature and pose a hazard to your foundation, consider a root barrier. A root barrier can be installed 3-5 feet deep to help direct tree roots away from the home. Lastly, keep in mind that approximately 3-5 feet of the foundation should be visible, so plant larger shrubs approximately 4.5-5 feet from the foundation.

R: Raise your flowerbeds by adding mulch. Most homes have flowerbeds, providing beauty and value. Unfortunately, some homeowners let the soil in the flowerbeds get too wet or too dry. This can lead to problems for the foundation. By raising the flowerbeds with mulch, they will be able to retain moisture around the home. This is an ideal way to control the amount of water reaching the foundation. Also, homeowners should landscape all sides of the home. If only one side is landscaped, the dirt on that side of the house will expand because it is receiving more water and more often. Soil expansion can cause havoc with regards to foundation cracks and fissures. Another tip for the flowerbed is to plant deeper rooted plants and shrubs that will not erode more easily and quickly. Plants with deeper roots will help the soil maintain the appropriate moisture level, and this is advantageous for the foundation. Also, make sure to create proper drainage spaces. Water needs to be able to flow away from the bed and downhill. So, leave space between bricks and consider drainage when planning your landscaping.

I: Inspect for drainage problems. Excess water around a home can cause a great deal of harm to a foundation, so homeowners should carefully inspect for water drainage issues. If too much water is pooling around a home, it can find its way beneath the slab. It also can seep beneath beams. This seepage can damage and thus weaken the home’s overall structure. For these types of problems, homeowners should contact Rock Foundations of Fenton, Michigan. Rock Foundations is the area expert in foundation issues. They will evaluate your situation, make the correct diagnosis, and solve your foundation problems. Damage to a home’s structural integrity is too important to attempt yourself, so contact the experts in this field: Rock Foundations.

N: Notice cracks and gaps in the sheetrock in the exterior brick of your home. Some smaller cracks, called hairline, are not a cause for concern. However, larger cracks – 1/8 of an inch or more – can be symptomatic of more serious issues. People should be on guard, looking for these cracks and noticing if they are growing and worsening. Taking photos will help. Measuring them and keeping note of their size and changes is also beneficial. If homeowners notice such concerning cracks, especially several in one area of the home’s exterior, they should contact Rock Foundations quickly. If not, repairing the damaged foundation will only become more difficult and expensive.

G: Grade your landscaping properly. As mentioned previously, water can do significant damage to a home’s foundation. So, when planning your new flowerbeds or plantings or repairing them to minimize potential damage, consider grading the landscaping for effective water runoff. When stormwater is collecting near the home on a consistent basis, serious problems can occur. By sloping your landscaping properly, you can prevent damage to your foundation. A good rule of thumb is landscape should be sloping six inches or more downward for every ten feet from the home’s foundation. For determining this, use a string. With a level, run it from the highest point to the lowest. This will provide an understanding of your slope and if it needs to be improved. Further, consider watering your house foundation on very hot days as heat causes changes to soil, liking sloping and sinking. So, on dry days, use a soaker hose several feet away from the foundation.

As the environmentalist John Muir said, “Spring work is going on the with joyful enthusiasm.” Clearly, spring has its work and its challenges, but for many, it is a blessing. And a safe, beautiful home to be enjoyed in the upcoming months is well worth the work. So use this season to make sure the exterior of your home is functioning well, and call Rock Foundations if you are in need of help and repairs. Happy spring!

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