The summer is over, and the summer drought appears to be coming to an end too. Conscientious homeowners like you are starting to wonder if the hot dry summer or recent rains have had any effect on your foundation. How about a fall check-up?
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been inspecting and repairing Brazos Valley home foundations for 35+ years. We know what to look for when it comes to developing issues and even know when it’s a good time to check your foundation’s health, and that’s when the seasons are changing.
This article will explain why seasonal transitions are a good time to check your foundation’s condition and review what to look for as you do a foundation check-up on your home.
Check Your Foundation for Problems Each Season
The weather is cooling to more tolerable temperatures and the summer drought season is ending. The ground is not too wet and not too dry either now due to the recent rains. As the seasons are shifting, it’s a good time to take stock of your foundation condition.
Because the air is not overly hot, your home will not be doing a ton of expansion due to rising temperatures. Because the ground is not too wet, the clay soil around your home will not be doing a ton of expanding either. It’s also not super dry now, so any contraction effects that cause foundation settlement and sinking are also lessened after the summer.
This happy medium is a better time to get a snapshot of your home under what we can best call *non-extreme* conditions. Your home will be in a baseline state where you can then observe throughout the year how things fluctuate at each transition in seasons.
Check Inside the Home for Foundation Settlement Signs
Even though your foundation is a horizontal flat surface below you, your best indicators of foundation settlement actually appear on vertical surfaces at eye level or higher in your home. Weird, huh?
Take a stroll around each room of your home looking for early signs of foundation problems like:
- Diagonal cracks in drywall
- Doors that don’t work quite right
- Trim popping or separating from walls
- Cabinetry or built-ins separating from walls
These top signs of foundation settlement are good to take note of and begin to watch more closely through the year. You can even make a small mark on your wall to show where a crack ends and see if it changes over time. Just be sure to do this mark in pencil so that you can easily erase it or paint over it later on.
Do cracks open up and close again? Do cracks get longer? Do the doors not fit properly at one time of the year and then get better? Or does it all stay about the same throughout the year? Make a mental or actual note of anything you observe inside so you don’t forget.
Check Outside the Home for Possible Foundation Issues
It’s fall and not sweltering anymore, so take a stroll outside your home on a nice pleasant day. Hurry, there will only be like 5 days like this . . . haha. Ooops . . . too late . . . now there’s a hurricane blowing in . . .
Remember that you are still checking vertical surfaces at eye level and some indicators of foundation settlement might even be above your head.
The common signs of foundation problems on the exterior of your home will be things like:
- Exterior doors that don’t lock or latch quite right
- Stair-step cracks in brick
- Brick and trim separations
- Brick frieze gapping mid-wall or spreading apart at the corners
Some of these items are hard to explain if you don’t already know what I am talking about. So here are photo examples of some of the issues I am referring to.
Fall Drainage Checklist Items for Your Home’s Foundation
While you are outside monitoring for foundation issues, you might as well work on preventing foundation problems too with a drainage check. Too much water is just as bad as not enough and poor drainage can contribute to foundation settlement.
With fall in Texas comes more rain. Standing water, poorly draining water, and really just any kind of water can be damaging to your home’s foundation if it hangs around for too long. So now that it’s raining again, take a look at what rainwater is doing on your property to see if you are having any drainage problems.
Look for areas near your slab foundation that might be holding pooling water. Look under your pier and beam or crawlspace home to see that there isn’t standing water that is not draining properly away.
Are your gutters clear and in good working order? When gutters don’t work right, they don’t carry damaging water away from your home as they should. Also, if leaves start to fall around your home, you want to make sure that the gutters aren’t already holding a bunch of junk that could contribute to a stoppage when more leaves fall.
So add these items to your fall foundation checklist too while you are touring your outdoor areas:
- Check and clean your gutters if needed
- Consider downspout extensions if you don’t have them
- Fill in low spots and make sure your yard slopes away from the home
- Evaluate drainage in hardscape areas like porches, patios, and sidewalks
- Verify that drainage systems like french drains, catch basins, and swales have proper flow and no blockages
For more information on all these drainage considerations, check out: Can I Fix Poor Drainage Around My Home’s Foundation? 6 Steps to Take.
Begin to Establish the History of Your Foundation’s Condition
History has to start somewhere so that you can look back on it. So the full story of your home’s foundation starts on the day you take this tour and document what you see.
A historical perspective is needed so that later on you can feel certain that you have seen changes firsthand. You will know with confidence that signs of foundation issues are becoming more apparent or haven’t changed much.
Beginning this cycle of observation (and documentation if you feel like it) will help you to confidently conclude things like:
- The foundation settled years ago and hasn’t moved since, or
- The settlement is more recent, or
- The settlement appeared quickly and suddenly, or
- Settlement is happening but it’s progressing very slowly, or
- The changes happen each year but always improve i.e. seasonal settlement.
Armed with this historical knowledge of your home’s behavior, you will be able to confirm that any changes or progressions are real and not just a figment of your imagination.
On the flip side, you can also confirm that no changes are occurring. For example, even though you see evidence of a wall crack, it happened a long time ago and no changes are taking place now. You might even consider getting that drywall repaired now if its condition hasn’t changed for a very long time.
Continue Observing Regularly for Settlement Signs
Now that you know when to look, what to look for, and why to start *gathering intel* on your foundation, what’s next? Well nothing yet, just know that starting to pay attention to your home puts you in the driver’s seat when/if there’s ever a time for foundation repairs later on. Just keep checking up on things each season.
Maybe set a quarterly reminder on your calendar now to help you remember to check again in the “winter” (if you can call it that). You will feel empowered and know that you are making the right decision to get repairs in the future, rather than being at the mercy of some foundation repair dude.
You are THE expert on your home’s condition and behavior and know more about its history than anyone. You don’t really need fancy tools, sophisticated measuring equipment, or special qualifications to use your eyeballs and understand what’s going on around your home.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we believe in sharing what we know to help Brazos Valley homeowners even if that means revealing the top secrets in assessing foundations. Whenever you feel ready for repairs, we will be ready to get to work improving the stability and functionality of your home.
Just in case you did see some signs that concerned you a bit, here’s some more revealing information on the topic of knowing when the time is right for foundation repairs that you can check out.