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  • Guest Writer for CGP

Foundation Leaks: What To Look For and What To Do

Updated: Jun 26

When you’re looking to put your home on the market, the last thing you want to deal with is a leaking foundation. A cracked foundation isn’t going to make your home impossible to sell, though. If you suspect you have a leak in the property you’re preparing to sell, you can either let it be and list your home as-is, or you can have it treated.

How do you know, though, when your foundation is leaking, and what solutions do you have available to you?

The Causes Behind Foundation Damage

You might think that a foundation crack appears abruptly. While this can sometimes be the case, especially if your area is prone to natural disasters, it’s rarely the primary cause. Instead, foundations tend to crack when exposed to stress in the long term.

Common causes of a foundation crack include but are not limited to:

  • Heavy rain: The more it rains in your area, the more water your soil is going to have to absorb. Unless you’ve thoroughly waterproofed your foundation, the pressure that builds up from the water around your home – known as hydrostatic pressure – will stress your foundation to the point of cracking.

  • Shifting soil: The soil particles around your home grow and shrink in response to the weather. If you’ve gone without rain for a long time or aren’t able to water your lawn, then your soil will shrink, and the landscape around your home will start to shift. You won’t visibly notice this shift, but your foundation with shift with the moving particles to accommodate for the change.

  • The weather and your foundation: If the weather is below freezing one day and above it the next, your foundation is going to contract and expand. Rapid contractions and expansions can occur when the weather rapidly changes, and they will cause your foundation to crack.

  • Your foundation’s construction: Sometimes, the contractor who originally built your home may not have taken the area’s precipitation history or other details into account. As a result, your foundation may be made out of inappropriate materials for your surroundings or may simply not be up to modern-day code.

  • Your landscaping: The trees and bushes you plant around your home need to have smaller root systems than the ones you plant further out in your yard. If a tree’s root system starts trying to grow through your foundation, it’ll crack through the concrete or brick.

What to Look for When Your Foundation Leaks

Basement leaks and foundation leaks in the crawl space often look similar at first. However, there are some symptoms that are distinct to foundation leaks that you’ll be able to keep an eye out for. If you’ve treated your basement for a leak and are still dealing with frequent flooding, look for the following that may indicate a more serious crack:

  • Bowing walls

  • Shifting floors

  • Gaps at the joints of your foundation

  • Sticking doors

  • Foggy windows

  • Water-damaged belongings or furniture

  • Mold

Sometimes, when the leak in your foundation is severe, you’ll be able to spot symptoms from the outside of your home. These symptoms might include but are not limited to:

  • Vertical cracks in your walls

  • A cracked chimney

  • Cracks running horizontally across your foundation

  • Signs of sinking

The symptoms that signal a leaking foundation tend to get worse over time, so be sure to reach out to a contractor for a free inspection if you spot more than one. Note, too, that if you live in an area that’s prone to natural disasters, you may see a foundation crack appear and grow within a few days of that disaster occurring.

Fixing a Leaking Foundation

Selling a home with a leaking foundation can be a challenge, but it isn’t impossible. If a contractor finds a leak in your foundation, you can either list your home as-is or have the contractor offer solutions. Some of the simplest foundation repair solutions include:

  • Piering

  • Underpinning

  • Leveling and slabjacking

  • Sealing

  • Subfloor drainage

Note that these services can cost anywhere from $500 to $6,000. However, you may find that they’re worth the expense. When you list a home that has an untreated foundation crack, you risk losing up to 30 percent of your home’s market value. Find a real estate consultant today to get some sound advice on fixing vs. listing.

Not Sure Where to Start? Look for Local Contractors

DIY solutions are not going to help you save money in the long run. If you think your foundation’s cracked, or if you’re seeing the signs, reach out to a local professional. The years of experience foundation repair contractors have on hand will help you save time, money, and stress, all while ensuring that your home retains its original value.

If you have any questions about preparing your home to sell, CGP is here to help you assess how you can get your home ready to list in Hampton Roads.

**This guest post is provided courtesy of JES Foundation Repair, a team of professional engineers providing foundation solutions for residents of Hampton Roads as well as throughout Virginia, DC, MD, and NC.

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