Your Home’s Foundation

Your Home’s Foundation

Let’s talk about the single most important aspect of your home…..its foundation.  It supports the house and everything that rests on it.  Whether you are building a new home or purchasing, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind when it comes to your foundation.

Typically, when home builders are constructing a new house for you, they will use poured concrete or concrete block with a poured concrete footing system.  This is the most economical way to go these days when building.  Any company dealing with your foundation should know what the most important elements are to consider.  While concrete may be the ideal material to use, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Flexibility is an issue, so to combat this, steel reinforcing bars are added so the foundation can handle any shifting or moving once the house is built.  Another important design consideration is to make sure the footings are placed below the frost line in the ground.  Depending on where you live and how deep the ground freezes in the winter will determine where they need to be placed.  This is essential to prevent any heaving or other movement caused by the freeze-thaw cycle.

Your home’s foundation main job is to keep water out, preventing water damage to the concrete and the contents of your house. To achieve this, waterproofing systems are put in place during the installation of the foundation.  Vapour barrier acts as a skin to the concrete, and drainage pipes are installed at the base of the footings.  Another defence against water leaking into the basement is a finished grade that slopes away from the foundation so water is directed away from the house rather than into it.

Problems that may arise!

Now that we discussed what your foundation should consist of and how it all comes into play, let’s talk about signs of an issue.  Your first tell-tale sign that a problem may be occurring is if there are any visible cracks in the walls or floors of the basement.  Obviously, if you have a finished basement this isn’t going to be easy to spot.  There are a few things you can look for that may indicate potential trouble.  If your windows that previously open and shut without difficulty are now causing a problem or if your doors won’t seem to close properly, you may want to do further inspecting outside.   When moving outside you will want to look for obvious issues.  Check to see if there are any prominent bulges in the dirt or grass along your foundation or if the foundation itself is swelling.  This could mean that your foundation has shifted or pressure is being put on the foundation.

Keeping a vigilant eye on your foundation and knowing what to look for can save you a lot of money.  Repairs to home foundations can be very costly, especially if left too long.  Always call a professional if you have any doubt about the integrity of your foundation.

Bryson Bumstead is a Certified Master Inspector and a Licensed Plumber with over 30 years of experience in the construction field. BDB Home Inspections provides professional assessments in the Southern Georgian Bay area.