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How to Maintain and Even Improve the Structural Integrity of Your Home

How to Maintain and Even Improve the Structural Integrity of Your Home

We often use the word “foundation” lightly to describe the base of something. For instance, we say that the “foundation” of a group is its shared interest or the foundation of a good cake is proper ingredients, and so on. Yet, the foundation of any home or structure cannot be taken lightly. It is the quintessential building block on which that home or structure stands. It is the main reason that foundation upkeep and repair are so crucial to the long-term stability of the building.

Unfortunately, a foundation is not always a “once and done” project and if there are flaws in ground preparation, materials, or design, it leads to a number of problems and sometimes even disaster. For example, issues with the foundation can lead to sinking, wall cracking, sagging floors and roofs, water issues, bowed walls, and more. Not repairing these problems when they have become serious or overlooked for too long might result in a full to a partial collapse of a structure.

Maintain and Improve via the Foundation

Because so few of us ever have the opportunity to build a home or other structures from the ground up, we also don’t have the chance to dictate the quality of the foundation or ground preparation. That can leave us with the need to improve or simply assess the conditions of the foundation on a regular basis.

If you want to maintain and/or improve the structural integrity of your home or other buildings, the very first step is to have them thoroughly and properly assessed. A home inspection is a good idea, but even wiser is a visit from a foundation expert to ensure there are no problems you may be unable to detect with your untrained eye.

If you get the thumbs up, you should inspect the stability of the foundation on a regular basis. If there are problems, there are always options available for repairs and improvements, even if the issues appear to be significant. For example, the most common threats to your home from a foundation problem include the following:

Wall Cracks

This is not always a foundation issue, but if you see cracks in any walls (interior or exterior), they represent a potential safety issue. You will want to have a foundation expert come in to professionally assess the risks.

Foundation Settling

If the walls of the foundation are leaning, bowing, or seem to be settling, they could be due to the use of improper fill or soil or underground water.. Again, this is the time to call in the pros for an informed recommendation.

Walls Bowing

This is usually due to the softening of soil outside of the foundation walls, and it means pressure from the ground is pushing inward on them. It is something that can be fixed, but you must act quickly to get experienced help.

Problems in the Crawl Space or Slab

If the floor of the basement leaks, the slab on which a home is built is expanding or shrinking. If there are issues within it or the crawl space including the aforementioned leaks, sinking, and other concerns, it is best to contact experienced inspection and repair professionals straight away.

Common Window Well ProblemsTo provide natural light in the basement during daytime, many people install windows partially below the ground surface. With a proper well and drainage system, water doesn’t pose a threat. This is one of the basics of basement waterproofing.

It’s easy to get it wrong, though. The danger of window wells is that water can accumulate near them and seep through the seals, causing water and foundation damage. Below are common window well problems homeowners face:

It Wasn’t Installed Properly

You need to pay attention to details when you install a window well or it may be subject to flooding. Get your dimensions for the final grade height right the first time to avoid future problems.

The Window Well is Blocked with Debris

If there’s too much in terms of leaves, sediment, and mud in your window well, the water will have a harder time making it through the drain pipe and away from your property. Your drain cover will keep the pipe clear, so make sure you clean your window well to keep things running smoothly.

The Window Well is too Close to a Downspout

If your window well is right under a downspout, all of the runoff from your roof is going to go into that well. It then might be harder for your drainage system to keep up, especially if there’s a lot of debris in the well. 

The Window Well Has No Drain

If you’ve bought a home with a window well already installed, it might not have a drain. Previous homeowners may have instead counted on the soil to absorb the water before it caused any damage to their basement. However, this may not be working well anymore, especially if you’re beginning to notice water pooling in the window well or leaks in your basement. 

At this point, it’s time to install a drain. Hiring a foundation expert to put in your window well can mitigate problems with drainage in the future. Such professionals know how to install systems that will keep your basement dry.

How to Install a Well Drain

It’s not enough to just have a window well, since they are only effective provided that they have a drain. Otherwise, when it rains, they simply gather water which presses against the window. The water will then begin to flood the basement. 

It’s important to know how to install a window well drain properly. Those with poor drainage can become filled with dirt and sediment, and will become less effective over time. With that in mind, here’s how to correctly install a window well drain:

Step One

Dig up the earth surrounding the window. The hole should be about a foot deeper than the bottom of the window sill. Make sure the area is large enough for you to work in. Centre the well around the window. Install the window well top at the same height or higher than the window.

Step Two

Bore a hole down to the gravel layer on top of the weeping tile that runs under your property. The weeping tile is an outside drainage system that collects water and runs out to the storm sewers. 

Step Three

Install a drain pipe with a cover to prevent dirt and debris from entering it. Drain pipes should be approximately four inches in diameter. It’s important that sediment is unable to enter the drain because, if it gets blocked, the system will be backed up and your window well will end up overflowing with water.

Step Four

Test your new drainage system to see that it’s working efficiently. If you’re unsure about any of these steps, or if it hasn’t drained properly, call in one of our foundation experts. 

Unclogging Window Well Drains

If installed correctly, you should never have a clogged drain pipe because your cover will keep debris from filling it. At most, you will simply need to clean out the window well so that water has access to the pipe. 

Unclogging a window well drain is not like unclogging a drain in your home, unfortunately. You cannot go down with a rod or clean it out with a strong chemical. Unclogging will likely require a major excavation to reach the bottom of the pipe and the weeping tile. The well’s metal barrier and some of the soil may need to be removed for this job, then later replaced once the pipe has been cleaned. 

If your window well drain is clogged, it may be worth your time to simply replace it with a new, properly-installed one. Consult with us to see which is the better option for your home. Our experienced technicians can advise you on which choice would save you the most money and the most time, all while keeping your home safe from potential complications.

While it can seem that structural changes due to foundation problems are too big to repair, that is not the case. The team at The Foundation Experts has decades of experience in foundation restoration, repairs, and waterproofing, all suited to helping you maintain and even improve upon the structural integrity of your home and other buildings. Get in touch with us today to learn more or request our services. We’re happy to help!