Are you a San Antonio resident, or are you just curious about the foundation problems that are common in the region? Great! RegionalFoundationRepair is at your service 24/7. In this guide, we cover common questions like:
- What Foundation Problems Are Common In San Antonio?
- What Are the Causes of Foundation Problems in San Antonio?
- How Can You Prevent Foundation Problems in San Antonio?
- Can Foundation Problems Be Fixed in San Antonio?
- When Should You Call a Foundation Repair Expert?
What Foundation Problems Are Common In San Antonio?
Texas, specifically San Antonio, ranks high in the dreadful list of areas most prone to foundation issues. These are a result of various geographical and climatic factors that end up causing homeowners several problems. Understanding these problems is the first step towards resolving and even preventing them from occurring.
Below are the most common foundation issues that you can expect to encounter in San Antonio. If you find that your home is experiencing these issues, reach out to our foundation repair experts in San Antonio to assess the issues and determine the best course of action for your home!
Cracks on Walls, Floors, and Other Structures
While not all cracks indicate major issues, certain kinds of cracks could be pointing to serious underlying issues within your foundation. It is considered normal for a new house to develop small cracks 3-4 years after construction. However, if the cracks develop years after the initial settling, or expand beyond a certain point, you should have your home’s foundation checked for other issues.
If you notice wide V-shaped cracks on the walls, between the chimney and the house, or at the corners of windows and doors, you should take quick action. Horizontal cracks on the internal walls are also a cause for concern, as they could mean that your house is sinking. Stair-steps cracks that run diagonally are another type of fracture that requires urgent attention.
On the other hand, vertical cracks are less serious as they are most likely the result of the initial settling of the house. Since they run in the same direction as the drywall, they will cause minimum damage to the wall which can be patched up easily. However, if the gaps grow to more than 1-2 inches, it is time to call a foundation repair contractor.
When your foundation movement is not a result of the initial settling, it is referred to as foundation sinking. Foundation sinking is often the main cause of other issues such as cracks on the walls and floors. Since the settling occurs differently at different parts of the foundation, the shifting will dislocate areas of your house and cause various structural issues.
If your floors are slanting to one side or sloping towards the center of the room, one explanation could be that part of your foundation is sinking. This is not an issue you want to ignore as it will only get worse with time, resulting in more inconvenience and requiring more money to repair.
Foundation upheaval occurs mostly in slab foundations when part of it moves in an upward direction. Heaving will mainly affect the foundation and floors, where it will manifest as cracks or slopes on the floor. Eventually, it will reflect on other parts of your house’s interior, like hallways, doors, and fireplaces. The doors and windows will tend to stick, whereas the fireplace will move upwards.
Slab foundations can move up to 2 inches in San Antonio, causing various damages in commercial buildings, apartments, or schools. Other common problems include gaps around the window frames and counters, and cabinets separating from the wall.
What Are the Causes of Foundation Problems in San Antonio?
There are different causes of foundation problems, but the main one is changes in the soil structure due to various factors. Knowing these factors is the only way you can take preventative measures against foundation issues.
Below are the most significant causes of changes in soil moisture content which eventually lead to foundation problems:
The type of soil in the San Antonio area is mainly clay and a bit of loam. Clay soil has a high plasticity index, meaning it expands and contracts a lot depending on the weather conditions. The alternating expansion during dry weather and contraction when it gets cold will eventually cause the foundation wall to crack.
Clay soil also retains a lot of water, gaining volume that may overwhelm the foundation. The weight of wet soil creates a force that pushes the foundation upwards. The most common type of damage caused by the nature of the soil in San Antonio is foundation upheaval.
Most parts of San Antonio have a flat terrain that retains rainwater for a long time. When water fails to drain away and collect at the foot of your foundation, various issues will follow. First, the collected water will exact hydrostatic pressure on the foundation wall that could cause it to crack, bow, or even crumble.
Water in the soil surrounding your foundation will also cause it to shrink, and the result could be the sinking of your foundation. Also, when the surrounding soil gets saturated with moisture, it is only a matter of time before the water finds its way into the crawl space or basement. Water in your crawl space is a whole other issue in itself.
Besides causing the wooded parts of your foundation and other fixtures to rot or rust, the water will affect the comfort and safety of the living area. When moisture seeps into the walls and floors of your home, it could lead to the growth of molds and mildew, which will compromise the air quality and even pose some serious health risks.
Apart from geographical and climatic reasons, water issues could also be from human errors. Faulty gutters and downspouts, improper grading, and faulty pipes are some of the other ways water can get into your foundation and cause damage.
According to a study by the National Foundation Repair Association, the climate in San Antonio shifts from extreme rainfall to an arid condition. This shift wreaks havoc on building foundations and other building structures around the area. The constant temperature fluctuations will exert pressure on the heat absorbent components of the foundation, which could eventually cause them to succumb and break.
When it gets too cold, water that was trapped in the soil or under the foundation could cause a frost heave. When water freezes, it increases in volume by a substantial percentage, exerting pressure on the foundation and causing it to heave upwards.
In some cases, an inexperienced or unprofessional contractor could cause foundation issues by not following the necessary building codes. Using substandard house leveling will result in an unstable foundation that will cause problems later on.
This is why it is important to select the contractor you work with carefully. Ensure they have years of experience and references to back up their claims. A good contractor should also be familiar with the building requirements of San Antonio. At Regional Foundation Repairs, our specialists have worked on numerous residential and commercial structures in San Antonio and are very familiar with the region’s needs.
How Can You Prevent Foundation Problems in San Antonio?
Taking care of your building’s foundation is crucial, especially with the high-risk nature of San Antonio. To counter the problems that come with a damaged foundation, it is essential that you follow the maintenance tips below:
As already discussed, most foundation problems result from the effects of water on the foundation and the surrounding soils. This is why proper drainage is such an important part of preventing such issues.
First, ensure your gutters and downspouts are in top working condition. When these fixtures deposit excess water from the roof near the foundation, the collected water will start a chain reaction that will end with numerous problems within your structure. Ensure the gutters are not leaking water onto your wall, and that the downspouts are dumping the water far from your foundation.
Also, check on your sprinklers to ensure they are not spraying too much water towards your foundation. In cases where the soil is too dry and requires watering, ensure you keep an eye on your sprinklers to avoid over-watering. You should also check for any plumbing leaks that could be sending water through your walls and floors into your basement.
For the areas that are prone to flooding, French drains can help rid the soils of excess water and prevent it from becoming saturated. These are trenches dug into the soil and lined with gravel, allowing excess water from the surrounding soils to collect, where they are either directed or pumped away.
The angle of your lawn should tilt downwards away from your house. This ensures that when it rains, water will be directed from your foundation wall, preventing it from saturating the surrounding soils. The recommended grade is about 5 inches per every 12 feet to ensure no water collects near your foundation.
While still on grading and landscaping, you should avoid planting trees and flowerbeds too close to your house. Trees and shrubs will suck out the little moisture left in the soil when it is dry. When the soil becomes too dry and shrinks, your foundation will experience movements that could result in other problems.
Encapsulating and Waterproofing Your Crawl Space and Basement
From the previous point, it is clear that keeping your foundation wall moisture-free is essential to keeping it healthy. Encapsulating your basement and crawl space prevents water from getting inside and causing damage.
Basement or crawl space encapsulation involves installing an insulator and moisture barrier to prevent water and moisture-laden air from getting inside. The vapor barrier covers even the floor of the crawl space to ensure no water evaporates into the area from the soil. By keeping these areas dry, you will not only avoid costly foundation problems but will also prevent air and temperature problems in your living rooms.
Can Foundation Problems Be Fixed in San Antonio?
Fortunately for homeowners, with the right expertise and tools, even the worst foundation issues have permanent solutions. Depending on the extent of damage and the different types of foundation, below are some repair methods to consider for your foundation problems:
Cracks in a foundation can be patched up by covering with waterproof masonry coating. Coatings used to seal cracks can be made from cement, concrete, silicon, or epoxies. Different cracks require various sealers depending on how intense they are. This repair method is ideal for minor cracks detected in the early stages and is necessary to avoid a costly total foundation repair.
However, before patching up cracks, ensure you inspect the reason for their occurrence. You do not want to patch a crack that is a result of foundation sinking, as it will reappear and make it more difficult to repair your foundation.
Mudjacking, also known as concrete leveling, involves lifting sinking or uneven concrete slabs. When contraction or shrinking occurs in the soil, empty spaces are left, and so the slab foundation sinks to fill in the spaces. Mudjack involves pumping slurry underneath the sunken slab to lift it back to its original elevation. It is important to note that mudjacking is only recommended for small jobs like sinking porches, driveways, and garage floors.
Mudjacking is a cheaper and time-effective repair method compared to replacing the whole concrete slab foundation. After mudjacking is done, activities can resume in an hour. This method does not affect the look or design of your structure. Also, no cleaning is required since this method does not mess up the foundation top.
Piering and Piling
Piering involves installing grade foundations or steel piers underneath the foundation to pin and lift it up. Helical piers have helical plates that are screwed into the soil until a stable soil-bearing layer is reached. The helical plates prevent any lateral movement of the piers, ensuring long-term, stable support for your foundation.
Steel pilings work the same as helical piers, only instead of being screwed into the soil, they leverage the weight of the structure to push them into the stable load-bearing soil levels. Piering and piling are also long-term fixes that should never have to be done again if completed properly.
When Should You Call a Foundation Repair Expert?
The best way to tell whether your house needs a visit from a foundation repair company is by scheduling an inspection. If you see any signs of foundation damage, it is safer to have it looked at to rule out foundation damage as the root cause. If there is foundation damage, it is better to have it fixed sooner to keep the costs low and prevent the damage from spreading.
Below are some of the indications that you should contact a foundation repair expert:
A damp basement that always has water droplets or simply looks wet is an indication that moisture is seeping through cracks in the foundation from the soil beneath. This should be resolved because letting the water settle there will lead to more problems.
Stains and Mold
When your floors or walls absorb moisture, they will start having mold that will result in stains and a musty odor. Molds are also a health hazard that could cause serious respiratory problems for you and your loved ones. Check for white powdery residue or orange patches. Walls may also begin to flake. All these are signs of a water problem that could be stemming from foundation issues.
When the foundation is cracked, bugs like centipedes and ants will often find their way into the house. The warmth of your house will draw them into your crawlspace, where they will breed and attract rodents, snakes, and other creatures.
Slanted and Uneven Floors
When your floors look slanted or feel uneven or saggy, chances are high you already have an underlying foundation problem. These signs are mostly an indication that your foundation is sinking. Protruding bulges on concrete also indicate underlying foundation problems.
Sticky windows and doors
When a house is experiencing foundation issues, the doors and windows may start becoming troublesome to open and close. This is because foundation movement in your home will make their frames lose their rectangular or square shapes, causing them to stick.
If you have installed gypsums or sheetrock in your house, you may notice wetness or rotting with time. This means there is a water leak from the foundation that could be seeping into the walls. Cracks on the drywall could also be a result of foundation movement, and you should therefore check to see what type of crack it is to determine its seriousness.
If you are a San Antonio resident noticing any of these signs, reach out to us at Regional Foundation Repair. We are San Antonio foundation repair experts qualified and experienced to handle all your needs. Tell us more about your problem and our specialists will reach out promptly for a free inspection and a no-obligation price quote.
Most of our repairs come with a lifetime warranty, ensuring that even if you are living in the areas most prone to foundation issues, we will make sure our solutions stick. You will enjoy the peace of mind that comes with living in a safe and comfortable home. 9081903022