Your home is likely your greatest asset, and making sure you take care of it is a top priority so you can enjoy it for years. One primary issue you need to be aware of is foundation cracking, which can lead to leaks.

Blog Post Summary

  • Large trees, flooding, poor soil preparation, and evaporation can cause cracks
  • Cracks can cause your foundation to bow and become unstable
  • home maintenance can help to prevent foundation cracks and leaks.

Understanding the causes of foundation leaks, their signs, and how to prevent them can help you protect your home. Even if your home is brand new and not showing any signs of foundation problems, it’s still good to know these points so you can remain watchful.

What Causes Foundation Leaks and Cracks?

There are many causes of foundation issues that you should be aware of. In many cases, only one of these will directly cause a foundation crack or leak at your home.

Large trees near the foundation can pull moisture out of the ground, which will cause the soil to shrink. The roots are strong and can push or break through the foundation’s concrete.

Flooding causes considerable pressure on the foundation of a home, which can damage it. Water can also cause soil to expand, which can lead to problems with the foundation.

Poor soil preparation is a critical component of building a home. If this isn’t done correctly, the soil can fail, which can leave the foundation unsupported.

Evaporation occurs during a drought. Soil that’s too dry will shrink, which can cause the foundation to settle in an unusual manner. This will put pressure on the cement as well as the walls and beams of the structure. It’s especially important to watch for dry or cracking soil close to the foundation of the house because these are signs that evaporation is occurring near your home.

Soil problems, including heaving, expansive, and consolidating soil, can lead to foundation stress. Expansive soil and heaving soil can expand up to 15 times the normal volume if they become dry. Consolidating soil can constrict and expand, which pushes and pulls on the foundation as it changes.

What Are the Signs of Foundation Leaks?

Many people think visual cracks in the foundation’s blocks, bricks, or cement are the primary sign that something is amiss, but this isn’t always present when there’s a foundation crack or leak. Instead, you have to look around your home for signs that the foundation isn’t stable.

Cracked or Bowed Basement Walls

Bowed or cracked basement walls may signal a foundation problem. You should be especially concerned if the walls are bowing in because this signals that the foundation isn’t supporting the home’s structure any longer. External bowing can mean the soil is pulled away from the foundation, which is typically due to the soil being too dry and contracting.

While horizontal cracks may occur at any point if there’s a foundation problem, they’re more common after bowed walls occur. Stair-step or vertical cracks occur if the soil is in an expand-contract cycle. All cracks in the basement walls typically signify severe foundation issues that need immediate correction.

Sinking or Settling Foundation

A foundation that appears to be sinking into the ground or settling after the first few years of the house being built is a sign that a foundation repair is necessary. These issues are usually because of shifting soil, but they can quickly become major problems.

Stuck Windows and Doors

Foundation leaks can cause the home to settle unevenly, leading to uneven door and window frames. The doors and windows will stick. In some cases, the frames will become waterlogged, which can also signal a serious problem with the home’s structural integrity.

Leaning or Cracked Chimney

In most homes, the chimney has its own foundation, so it can move independently from the rest of the home. If the home’s foundation is shifting or moving without the chimney’s foundation moving, the chimney may crack. This is typically seen at the junction between the roof and the chimney, so it may be hidden behind flashing that protects the area.

Cracks in the Drywall

Cracks in the drywall in any room of your home signal an issue with the foundation. These are typically due to uneven distribution of weight, which leads to stress-line cracks. While all cracks in the drywall show that there’s a foundation issue, it’s particularly problematic when the cracks occur from the corners of doors and windows because that signals a lack of support.

Uneven Floors

Slight variations in the floors of a home are common. However, foundation leaks can sometimes cause wood rot in joists and other supporting structures. Uneven floors, including those that appear wavy, denote that there’s a major problem with the foundation that must be addressed quickly.

Gaps Between the Walls and Floors

Foundation leaks can cause one side of the floor to be higher than the other. This may shift the walls, which can lead to noticeable cracks between the wall and the floor. This is sometimes hidden behind baseboards, so you may not notice this sign right away.

Popped Nail Heads

Drywall is hung using nails, which are plastered over as part of the process. As the foundation shifts because of foundation leaks, the nail heads can be pushed closer to the surface of the drywall. They may eventually pop through the drywall and become noticeable. This might accompany a crack in the drywall.

Can You Prevent Foundation Cracks?

Preventing foundation cracks starts with the preparation of the home site when the house is built. If you’re building a new construction, ensure the soil preparation is done properly.

If you buy an already built home or have already taken possession of a new build, home maintenance can help to prevent foundation cracks and leaks. Some critical home maintenance tasks that you should complete include:

  • Have plumbing professionally installed and maintained
  • Have gutters installed to channel water away from the home
  • Have sprinklers installed to keep soil moist during dry periods
  • Have plumbers perform all repairs immediately, especially pipe and gutter repairs

While you should be watchful for signs of something wrong with the foundation, it’s best to have our team in San Jose inspect the foundation regularly. This gives us the opportunity to correct defects before they become too serious.

What Should You Do If Your Home Has a Foundation Leak?

If you notice signs of a foundation crack or leak, contact us at Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter so we can inspect the foundation to determine how to correct the issue before it gets worse.

Some homeowners may be tempted to try to fix the issues on their own or to simply ignore them, but those decisions are detrimental to the home’s structural integrity.

Our professionals understand that the stability and safety of your home’s foundation are critically important, so we’ll work on the best plan to correct this issue. Contact us today so we can repair any foundation issues in your San Jose home. We offer a variety of plumbing services, such as rooter, gas, sewer, and water services.

Josh Gibson

Hi, I’m Josh. I’ve been around plumbing my whole life. When I was 5-6 years old my family built a home where I did a lot of the sanding of copper pipe and definitely some playing in the mud. Plumbing is a major part of my family as I am a fourth-generation plumber. The skills I bring to the job are a good technical knowledge of plumbing and code requirements. I am often complimented on my hands-on problem-solving skills.
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