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How Heavy Rainfall Can Threaten Your Foundation

How Heavy Rainfall Can Threaten Your Foundation - Image 1

The pitter-patter of rain can be a soothing sound, but for homeowners with crawl spaces or basements, heavy downpours can turn into a cause for concern. Soil washout, the erosion of soil supporting your foundation by heavy rains, can wreak havoc on your home's structural integrity. This blog will delve into how heavy rainfall can impact your crawlspace or basement foundation, the telltale signs to watch out for, and the steps you need to take if you suspect soil washout has occurred.

Understanding Soil Washout and Its Impact

While crawl spaces and basements offer valuable storage space or additional living areas, they come with a unique vulnerability: their foundations are directly exposed to the elements. During heavy rainfall, especially when the ground becomes saturated, water can pool around the foundation. This creates a powerful force known as hydrostatic pressure, which pushes against the foundation walls.
The real danger lies in the soil beneath the foundation. If the soil erodes due to water flow, it removes the crucial support system for your crawlspace or basement. This can lead to a domino effect of problems:

  • Uneven Settling: As the soil is washed away unevenly, your foundation loses its level footing. This can cause the crawl space floor or basement floor to settle unevenly, creating cracks and dips.
  • Foundation Wall Cracks: Settling creates stress on the foundation walls, leading to cracks. These cracks can worsen over time, compromising the structural integrity of your home and allowing moisture to seep in.
  • Door and Window Sticking: Uneven settling can cause doors and windows in your crawlspace or basement to become misaligned, making them difficult to open and close.
  • Bowing Walls: In severe cases, excessive pressure from soil washout can cause the foundation walls to bow inwards. This is a major structural issue that requires immediate attention from a foundation repair specialist.

Spotting The Signs of Soil Washout

Early detection is key when it comes to soil washout. While a professional foundation inspection is always recommended, here are some signs you can watch out for:

  • Cracks in Foundation Walls: Inspect the foundation walls in your crawlspace or basement for any cracks, especially horizontal cracks near the base of the wall.
  • Cracks in Floors: Uneven settling can manifest as cracks in the crawlspace floor or basement floor. Pay attention to the size and direction of the cracks.
  • Uneven Doorways and Windows: Take a look at the doorways and windows in your crawlspace or basement. Are they sticking or difficult to open and close? Misalignment could indicate settling.
  • Drainage Issues: Poor drainage around your house can exacerbate soil washout. Look for pooling water near the foundation or clogged gutters and downspouts.
  • Foundation Wall Leaning: If you notice any bowing or leaning of the foundation walls, it's a critical sign of structural compromise and requires immediate professional attention.

For more information on foundation issues check out our page here.

What To Do If You Suspect Soil Washout

If you suspect soil washout is impacting your crawlspace or basement foundation, don't wait! Here are the steps you should take:

  • Contact a Foundation Repair Specialist: A qualified foundation repair specialist can assess the damage and recommend the best course of action. Look for a company with experience in crawl spaces and basements; and one that offers free inspections, like Frontier Foundation and Crawl Space Repair. We have helped homeowners for over 20 years. 
  • Address Drainage Issues: While the foundation specialist tackles the problem at hand, you can take steps to prevent future soil washout. Ensure proper drainage around your house by regularly cleaning gutters and downspouts. Consider extending downspouts to direct water away from the foundation.
  • Landscaping Solutions: Grading the soil around your house to slope away from the foundation can also help with drainage. Planting shrubs and trees at a safe distance from the foundation can add stability to the soil.

Resources For Further Reading

The informative website of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) offers a wealth of information on foundation issues, including crawlspaces and basements:

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) provides resources on foundation repair and maintenance:

Prevention Is Key

By understanding the risks of soil washout and taking proactive measures to address drainage and maintain your foundation, you can help safeguard your crawlspace or basement from the damaging effects of heavy rainfall.  A healthy foundation is the bedrock of a secure and comfortable home. If you think you might have foundation issues, contact Frontier today for a FREE inspection



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