Time and pressure can have an incredible impact on seemingly impenetrable surfaces. No matter how strong or durable your foundation is, the relentless pressure of the surrounding land will eventually begin to cause damage. Of course, a well-designed and maintained foundation should last long beyond the point where you need to worry about it.
What happens when a process accelerates the slow march of time, however? Torrential rains and the floods that accompany them can push your home to the limit. Not even your foundation is immune to the damage wrought by a severe flood.
How Does Water Damage Your Foundation?
Your home's foundation has one primary purpose: to support and distribute the rest of the structure's weight. Foundation failures are both costly and potentially hazardous. When the outer walls of a foundation begin to fail, they can threaten the entire structure's integrity. Ever minor foundation damage can lead to cracks, misaligned doors, and other problems in your home.
Damage to a foundation typically occurs due to changes in soil moisture. Clay soils in particular can significantly increase in size when saturated, raising the amount of hydrostatic pressure on your foundation's outer walls. This extra pressure can push in on your foundation with enough time, causing walls to lean or crack.
What Makes Floods Worse?
Floods saturate the ground around your home in the same way as any other rainstorm, but they can cause significantly more damage. When the soil becomes saturated enough, it not only pushes against your home's walls but may even begin to shift the ground underneath the foundation. This assault comes from multiple angles and can weaken or damage portions of the foundation
Fast-moving floodwaters can cause damage, as well. Since most homes with basement-style foundations have at least part of their walls aboveground, the rapidly moving water can cause impact damage even if it doesn't saturate the soil. When this happens, the walls may lean in from the top after being hit by a rolling mass of water.
What Are the Signs of Damage?
You should always arrange for a complete inspection when your home is involved in a natural disaster, including a flood. Foundation inspectors will look for signs of bowing, leaning, or cracking. Horizontal cracks usually indicate severe damage and may be a sign that a wall is beginning to fail. Never ignore seemingly minor issues since a weakened foundation may now be vulnerable to even normal pressure.
Fortunately, foundation repair contractors have many options available to repair damage. Depending on the severity of the issue, you might only need to patch cracks. In more extreme cases, your contractor may recommend installing wall anchors to pull the concrete back into place or piers to support it. While these repairs are not always cheap, they guarantee that your home will remain structurally sound.