Preventative Foundation Maintenance

Updated on March 26, 2008
H.P. asks from Allen, TX
10 answers

I have heard that you can get a free evaluation of your foundation within 10 years of your home being built. And supposedly it is cheaper to do some preventative maintenance on it before it gets too bad. Does anyone know if this is true?
We see some cracks in our outer walls, and our house is 9 years old, so we need to get it looked at soon. What companies are out there that you would recommend using?
Thanks!

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D.B.

answers from Dallas on

I would look into the city Park/Rec classes. They sometimes have experts teach low cost classes on foundation maintenance and what to look for in repair.

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K.P.

answers from Dallas on

Most foundation companies in the DFW metroplex with give you an evaluation for Free. Several reputable companies are:
Perma Pier
MBR Foundation
Arch Foundation
Call them and tell them your situation and that a Realtor told you they would inspect for free (that would be me :)). My experience is that these guys will give you an honest answer. Yes, if you need help and no if you do not. Good foundation maintainance advise is to purchase and use soaker hoses. You can buy them at any home improvement store. They should be placed approximately 18 inches away from the foundation of your home and soak the perimeter of your home on a consistant basis. Good Luck. K. P.

About me - I am married with a 12 year old son. Struggling a bit in today's real estate market.

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K.I.

answers from Dallas on

I used to do foundation surveys for a living in the Metroplex and I currently design foundations for my company.

The key to proper foundation performance is consistency with the moisture levels in the soils beneath your house. This is why we are all telling you to use soaker hoses. The trick is to make sure that the soils don't get too wet (during the small wet season), or don't dry out (in the dry summer months).

The cracks that you should be concerned with are the diagonal ones in the sheetrock extending from doorframes and windowframes. These cracks are typically at least 1/4 inch wide. Also, cracks through the bricks are more indicative of foundation problems than cracks in the mortar. Doors will often not open or close smoothly.

Foundations are designed to float on the surface of the soils and move with them as they shrink and swell with moisture changes. (hence keeping a consistent moisture level with minimize the shrinking and swelling.) So, some movement is normal and that's why you see some cracks in walls (corners especially) and separations between counters and walls. This is just your house moving with the flow and settling.

So, what does this mean for you? If you have a sprinkler system, make sure that you water once a week for about one inch. Put an empty tuna can out in your yard and when it fills up, that's when you can stop. It's typically about 20-30 minutes. Soaker hoses will also help to "water the foundation". This just means that you are watering close to the house (12-18 inches away) and that this moisture can get to the soils under the house. If you see cracks in your soils - WATER! They've gotten too dry.

Keep trees and large shrubs away from your house. They should be at a distance equal to their mature height away. If you have those red tip photinias - I HIGHLY recommend you dig them up and get rid of them. They suck up a TON of water, grow too quickly and are disease prone.

Put gutters around the entire perimeter of the roof and make sure that they discharge at least 5 feet away from the house. (excess rain will cause too much moisture).

These are the recommendations that my former company gave when we found problems in houses. Keeping things consistent is the key. It's not always easy with our wacky weather, but it's worth the effort.

Good luck
K.
(I can tell you which foundation company NOT to use if you email me personally, but it sounds like you are not anywhere close to needing one.)

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B.B.

answers from Dallas on

In order for this to be covered under warranty, you need to contact the original builder of the house. Look in the manual that you should have received when you built your home, or if you aren't the original owner, find the one that was left at the house. This will have the information you need. We went through this procedure after noticing some cracks in our walls, too. First, we had Arch Foundation repair out, and they told us we needed 4 piers. When the warranty company came out, they said that we really didn't need any piers, just more consistent watering around the front and better drainage along the back. I think it's good to get both viewpoints, just so you can have more information. BTW, we didn't get any piers. The survey from the warranty company was significantly more thorough, and I believed that more than a foundation company bid. Good luck!

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K.H.

answers from Dallas on

Hi H., it's important to water your foundation for preventative maintenance due to the type of soil in North Texas. You can use soaker hoses and water about 3 times a week for an hour at a time. Leave the hoses about a foot away from the house. Some settling is normal and you will see cracks around door frames. If the cracks are very jagged, not just at door frames or are cutting through brick on the outside, that can be a sign of foundation problems.

If you want a true and honest survey of any problems, hire an independent structural engineer. They come and look at your house and tell you if it needs foundation repair. They shouldn't promote any particular company for repairs. If you don't, you're only out their fee. If you do, then you can interview different companies for the repair.

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E.H.

answers from Dallas on

I am not sure about that but I would check with FOx Foundation. Nancy Fox is one of the owners and she is so fabulous! ###-###-#### or [email protected]____.com

Good Luck
E. Herman

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T.M.

answers from Dallas on

I would call Jefferie Ellison with Structured Foundation at ###-###-####. He is honost, knows his business, and a great person. His evaluation is FREE. Please tell him T. Merlene with REMAX referred you. Please feel free to contact me as well with questions at ###-###-####. I have a home owners guide for Foundation Tips that I can share with you. Thanks!

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J.F.

answers from Dallas on

hey H. my girlfriend went through that with her builder. she ended up having to sue. she can give you the ins and outs. email me directly and i will give you her contact info if you like. what you will want is a structural engineer which will cost you. you will also want to contact your builder and get their opinion. note also that cracks in brick, especially around mortar are considered cosmetic. more indications of foundation issues are cracks in sheetrock, doors not closing, and major structural cracks in the brick. hope that helps!

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S.S.

answers from Dallas on

If I were you I would start with the builder who built your home if it's under 10 years old. Place a warranty claim with them before you go spend any of your own money.

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K.P.

answers from Dallas on

I'm not sure about a free evaluation, unless it's from your builder. I would recommend you get an evaluation from a structural engineer before contacting any foundation repair companies. I just had an evaluation done on my home, and used Jonathon Cooper. His number is ###-###-####. He was great! He charges around $300.00 for the evaluation.

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