Not all homeowners in the greater St. Louis area know what’s underneath their foundations. If you’ve ever worried – or at least wondered – what foundation damage can do to your home, you’re not alone.
Many common foundation problems are simple and inexpensive to fix if you catch them early, but the sticker shock can be overwhelming if hidden conditions are left to the forces of nature for too long.
What is it about Missouri soils that can cause foundation trouble? Geologists talk a lot about the “elasticity” of the soil in and around the St. Louis area. Because of the high clay composition – much like the modeling clay you might have played with in elementary school – the soil that’s supporting your foundation expands and contracts every time the moisture content changes.
Depending on how well your foundation was designed and built for local conditions, these changes may only cause minor settling. Over time, however, more extreme wet seasons or dry spells can cause the ground around your home to shift a lot, and this can lead to more serious – and in severe cases, catastrophic – structural damage.
Of course, other factors like poor drainage, leaky pipes, tree roots, seasonal temperature extremes, and the position of your home relative to other water and ground features in your area can all contribute to foundation trouble along with soil conditions. It’s important for every Missouri homeowner to learn the early warning signs of structural damage and know the local risk factors that might threaten your home.
Again, some settling is normal in almost every house, and may only cause superficial cosmetic changes you can take care of with an inexpensive trip to the hardware store. What you want to watch out for are more urgent signs of structural deterioration like these:
- Moisture accumulation in crawl spaces or low points in your home
- Condensation, stains, or bloom on interior walls, recessed spaces, or exposed foundation areas
- Expanding cracks in concrete surfaces, masonry, ceilings, walls, or places that join at right angles
- Doors or windows that stick or warp or seem misaligned when they used to work normally
- Persistent plumbing leaks that may have eroded the soil around or beneath your foundation
- Exterior features like chimneys or architectural popouts that start to lean or tip out of alignment
- Uneven or sloping floors – or just the sense that you’re on an incline in a space that you know is supposed to be flat and level
If you notice any of these warning signs, you should know that it’s not an immediate reason to panic. In most cases, a reputable foundation repair company with qualified structural experts can quickly figure out what’s wrong and recommend a number of fast, smart, and affordable repair options. The best thing to do is get someone trustworthy to do a complete, professional inspection and give you the facts so you can make an informed decision to protect your home.
Olshan is available to help Saint Louis homeowners identify reliable, warrantied foundation repair services. It’s as easy as making a phone call, and the process starts with a no-cost, no-obligation evaluation by a certified structural technician. They’ll go over every structural component in your home, show you exactly what they found, and make expert recommendations on your best repair options.
It’s important to know that when you have the right foundation repair company on your side, they’ll not only correct the immediate problem – they’ll also help you protect your home from future damage. In addition to foundation repair (featuring a warranty-backed underpinning system), Olshan can also help you locate experts for crawl space repair and encapsulation to keep moisture out, as well as concrete leveling, basement waterproofing, sump pumps, dehumidifier systems, and moisture barrier installation.
Pleasant surprises happen more often than you might think. Your structural evaluation may show that all you need are a few preventive measures. There are simple things you can do to protect your foundation from the damaging effects of Missouri clay soil conditions. Here are just a few ideas:
- Install (or upgrade) gutters so that they’ll carry water away from your foundation
- Use simple French drains to keep water from pooling near your foundation
- Remove trees that may compromise foundation components or dry out the soil excessively
- Water your foundation during periods of drought to maintain consistent moisture levels
- Landscape your yard using a downward slope so seasonal water drains away from the house
When a structural representative visits you for an evaluation, you can ask for a free foundation maintenance plan that includes professional tips like these and more.
Some homeowners put off vital foundation work because of financial worries, but if you’re seeing warning signs, the worst thing you can do is wait. In many cases, your representative can recommend a repair option that fits your budget, and may be able to get you an affordable payment plan, often starting as low as $125 a month. To learn more, call Olshan today.