annual foundation checks

How to Check Your Home for Foundation Problems Throughout the Year

You want to monitor your home for developing foundation issues to catch any problems right away. Or maybe you’ve already been worried about your foundation, had an inspection, and decided that it wasn’t quite time for repairs yet. But you were told that you should keep an eye on things to look for worsening settlement or changes. 

Now, you just need some foundation check-up instructions . . . 

Anchor Foundation Repair Bryan College Station

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 and worsening issues and even know when it’s a good time to check your foundation’s health, and that’s throughout the year so you can observe changes.

This article will explain why paying attention to seasonal transitions and looking for changes a few times annually are good ways to track your foundation’s condition. We will review what to look for as you do seasonal foundation check-ups on your home.

Begin to Establish the History of Your Foundation’s Condition

monitoring for foundation problems

History has to start somewhere so that you can look back on it. So the full picture of your home’s foundation settlement story starts on the day you start this observation process and begin to 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 after some annual observations if its condition hasn’t changed for a long time.

Check Your Foundation for Problems Each Season

Consider checking your foundation for issues each season. More specifically, it’s best to check your foundation at each seasonal transition. Checking during transitional times helps you to see the final results from a given season before it starts to change.

time of year to check for foundation issues

Any happy medium time gets you a better beginning 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. 

Happy mediums around here are usually the beginning of spring or fall so those seasons are good starting points. Think of the times of the year when it’s actually *pleasant* outside.

Spring Conditions

The beginning of springtime in Central Texas is *Goldilocks* time. It’s not too hot and not too cold and the ground is not too wet and not too dry either. The climate conditions are *just right* for a short time.

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 cold or dry, so any contraction effects that cause settlement and sinking are also at a minimum.

Summer Dryness

When we get to the end of summer it’s expectedly dry. This is when homes will experience the most settlement because the expansive clay soil shrinks and shrinks some more the drier and drier it gets. Your home will be resting at its lowest points or sink further during the summer. 

A particularly dry or drought-ridden summer is when you might begin to see cracks open up more or new settlement damage develop around the house. Checking your foundation at the end of the summer gives you a snapshot of your home in the driest conditions.

Before the season shifts to cooler weather, it’s a good time to take stock of how your foundation survived the hot summer months.

check your foundation throughout the seasons

Fall Changes

In the fall, the weather cools to more tolerable temperatures and the drought season is likely over. The ground is not too wet and not too dry due to the recent rains. Since it’s not super dry anymore by the time fall comes, any contraction effects that cause foundation settlement and sinking are also lessened after the summer.

Keep in mind that when I say “fall” here, it’s probably more like late October or November before we are really cooling off here in Central Texas.

Winter Chill

Since we’ve mentioned all the other seasons, I guess now we should mention Texas winters, or as I like to call them *mini-fallwinters* because they’re so short and usually adorable. 

Ok well . . . except for that one time when we had Snowmageddon 2021 or perhaps the Mega-Freeze of 2022. So like, besides those times it’s usually uneventful . . . does anyone have some wood I can knock on around here . . . 

At the end of an extreme winter, you might worry that a major cold snap affected your foundation. But one or two bad winters don’t suddenly break things. Foundation problems develop over many years of expansive clay soil reacting to fluctuating weather and moisture conditions. 

Just keep documenting and observing for changes at the close of each season . . . and now we’re going to tell you how to do that . . . 

First Check Inside the Home for Foundation Settlement Signs

signs of foundation issues on the interior of your home

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:

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.

tic mark to monitor for foundation settlement

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.

To keep an eye on wall cracks, we suggest making tic marks at the end of each crack so that you can verify when/if it changes. Check out the picture so you can see what I mean.

If you’re feeling extra ambitious, think about how your plumbing system is working too. Do you have any gurgling toilets or slow-draining sinks? Check out this article about plumbing issues that contribute to foundation settlement if you’re worried about your pipes.

Then Check Outside the Home for Possible Foundation Issues

Once you’re done checking the inside, take a stroll outside your home on a nice pleasant day. Remember that you are still checking vertical surfaces at eye level and some indicators of foundation settlement might even be above your head.

signs of foundation issues on the exterior of your home

The common signs of foundation problems on the exterior of your home will be things like:

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. Most of the symptoms above also have an article written just for that one symptom so check those out as well if you’re curious.

Spring Time Foundation Maintenance Tips

When you check your home in the spring, it’s also a good time to prepare for preventative maintenance as the weather gets warmer. Planning to keep moisture levels consistent around your home is the best controllable defense against foundation damage from drought. It doesn’t always work, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Aim to keep your grass, plants, and trees alive by watering regularly through spring and summer. Here are a few things you can do to prepare your yard and foundation for hotter weather heading your way soon:

prevent foundation issues
  • 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 your plantlife alive, don’t give up if the weather starts to get dry

We often see people sort of say, “Oh forget it,” when it comes to watering their lawn during a hot Texas summer. Keeping your lawn, landscaping, and trees looking good by watering will offer you some protection against annual wear and tear on your foundation.

But don’t go overboard with watering your lawn or literally watering your foundation thinking that this will somehow prevent all foundation issues. If foundation problems are going to happen, they’re going to happen. But you might minimize some seasonal settlement by keeping things decently green.

Fall Drainage Checklist Items for Your Home’s Foundation

preventing foundation problems

While you are outside monitoring for foundation issues in the fall, 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.

Add these items to your fall foundation checklist too while you are touring your outdoor areas:

  • Check and clean your gutters after the leaves fall 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.

Continue Observing Regularly for Foundation 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.

when do you need to monitor for foundation problems?

Maybe set a quarterly reminder on your calendar now to help you remember to check again in the next season.

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.