Home maintenance is a top priority for you. You want a clear playbook for taking care of your slab foundation. You’re looking for a checklist of sorts to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered to prevent foundation issues from developing around your home.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have inspected and repaired thousands of homes in the Brazos Valley area. With 35+ years of experience repairing foundations, we certainly have some suggestions on how you can care for them. We’ll even put it into a list for you!
This article will list 4 steps you can take to maintain your slab-on-grade foundation. We will also discuss the idea of preventing foundation problems with maintenance and whether it’s possible. You’ll come away with doable steps to confidently care for your home and a little more peace of mind.
How to Best Care for Your Foundation
Homeowners want to know the *best* way to take care of things. When it comes to a simple slab-on-grade foundation, there isn’t too much to do. Slabs are kinda low maintenance and so is concrete. That’s one of the great things about any kind of concrete slab — they don’t need much, especially compared to the more complex and higher maintenance crawl space foundation styles.
With all that being said, there’s not really a *best* way to maintain your concrete slab. However, there are a couple of things you can do to optimize the environment around your foundation. Keeping the area surrounding your home in good condition is about all you can do.
4 Maintenance Steps for Your Slab Foundation
As mentioned, maintenance for a foundation is more about maintaining things around the outside of your house. Here are some steps you can take to create the best possible conditions for your foundation:
We’ve got in-depth articles on each of these maintenance steps linked above. Pick one you think you need to work on the most and get *a full load of dirt* on that topic. But we’ll hit the highlights below.
There’s a fine balance between too much water and too little water for the ground around your foundation. Watering your yard and keeping grass and plants alive is good. Excess water from poor drainage, faulty gutters, and/or non-existent downspouts is bad. What you’re trying to do is keep moisture levels at a happy medium as much as possible.
Unfortunately, with the expansive clay soil in our Central Texas area being so reactive to both wet and dry conditions, it’s difficult to maintain consistent moisture. Hoses and sprinklers are an insufficient substitute for actual rainfall. Hoses and sprinklers are also no match for systemic drought.
Keep consistency with whatever you decide to do and try to maintain moderate conditions and help with water retention. You’re aiming for not too wet and not too dry throughout the year. Then also regularly monitor your home for signs of foundation settlement to catch any developing problems early on.
Quick Care Checklist for Foundation Maintenance
I know you want a list of things to do for foundation maintenance, so here’s what I’ve got for you. First, an initial checklist for when you’re first starting out with this foundation maintenance endeavor, then some seasonal tasks to run through annually.
Initial Foundation Care Checklist
- Add gutters if you don’t have them
- Add downspout extensions if you don’t have them
- Repair faulty gutters and downspouts
- Correct known drainage issues like standing water, low spots, and bad grading
- Do an initial inspection of your home/yard per this article
Springtime Foundation Maintenance Checklist
- Monitor/document any signs of foundation settlement at the beginning of spring
- Re-mulch landscaping areas near the home to preserve moisture
- Check that hoses and sprinklers are in good working order, buy new ones if needed
- Test your irrigation system (if you have one) for proper functionality and no leaks
- Plan on keeping all your plantlife alive, don’t give up if the weather starts to get dry
Summer Foundation Care Checklist
- Don’t abandon your yard and shrubs, water the lawn as consistently as possible
- Watch for cracks in your yard or dirt pulling away from your slab – water more
- Water your trees properly with a slow hose at the drip line, it’s not like watering grass
- Don’t “water your foundation” just focus on the grass, shrubs, trees, landscaping, etc.
- Do encourage moisture retention with good mulch or reapplication of mulch
- Don’t expect miracles if there is a drought
- Monitor/document any signs of foundation settlement at the end of summer
- Wait until a drought is over to decide if foundation repairs are necessary
Fall Maintenance Tasks Checklist
- Check and clean your gutters after the leaves fall if needed
- Check the condition and flow of your downspout extensions
- Fill in low spots and make sure your yard still slopes away from the home
- Evaluate drainage in hardscape areas like porches, patios, and sidewalks
- Verify that drainage systems (French drains, catch basins, swales) have good flow and no blockages
Winter Chill Checklist
- Prevent pipe breaks by dripping faucets when necessary
- If a pipe does break and there is excess water around your home, facilitate drainage
- Don’t panic about cold weather and any impact on your foundation, it’s unlikely here
- Stay warm and take it easy
- Monitor/document any signs of foundation settlement at the end of winter
Can Maintenance Prevent Foundation Problems?
Prevention does not mean *failsafe* – otherwise we would not need two different words here. Prevention is a big hope for the best sprinkled with a little work. There’s never a 100% guarantee that any preventions you choose or careful maintenance you perform will work in all circumstances.
Throw in the X-factors of weather and the expansive clay soil we have in Central Texas and it’s just a crap-shoot. (Sorry, Mom, I know how you feel about those *brown words* . . . )
Sometimes foundation settlement just happens to some homes, even when preventions and maintenance are applied. The fact of the matter is that we are all up against forces of nature that cannot be controlled.
You might be the self-appointed *Royal Highness of Home Maintenance and Lawn Watering* but that doesn’t make you God. You can’t overcome widespread drought, gravity, and rainfall numbers with a few sprinklers being used on your property alone.
All you can do is create the most optimal conditions within reason (i.e. don’t go overboard in expense or effort), and hope that some of it helps – and some of it will.
How Will I Know If I Have a Foundation Problem?
Now that you are armed with some good practices and a legit maintenance checklist, how will you know if you’ve got an issue? When should you call in a foundation inspector to check out your slab? The most telltale indicators of foundation settlement are diagonal wall cracks, door fit issues, and gaps in trim.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we don’t fix things that don’t need fixin’, and we don’t try to sell you stuff you don’t need. After 35+ years in business, that’s what’s best for our Brazos Valley community and for exceptional homeowners like you.
We’re here to help guide you through the foundation repair process, and that includes sharing how we decide when repairs are needed. Here’s how we draw the line between a home that we think needs foundation work and one that doesn’t.