As real estate professionals in Charlotte know, our expansive clay soil can be a real problem for home foundations. Expanding when wet and contracting whey dry causes heaving, settling, and cracking of basements, crawl spaces, and even slabs.
When reviewing homes with basements for investment opportunities and to help families find their next home, we recommend the following six steps to identify any foundation issues. We also touch on what to do about any problems you find along with who to call.
1. Inspect the Structural Supports
As you well know, the foundation is just that—it supports the full house. If it starts to shift from movement in the soil or moisture damage to basement walls and supporting beams, it will start showing up in the rest of the home. Look for exterior cracks in the bricks, cracking in the interior walls, sagging floors, bulging basement walls, as well as sticking doors and windows. For damage repair options, call a foundation repair specialist.
2. Look for Water
Basement windows can let in sunshine but also water if the wells aren’t draining and the windows aren’t sealed. Look also for bowing walls, cracks, as well as damp floors and walls. The best approach for repair is basement waterproofing with interior drainage and a sump pump. Mold cleaning might also be required. It’s best to seek out basement repair experts.
3. Review the Home’s Insulation
Energy costs in North Carolina don’t seem to be getting lower. That means we should do all we can to prevent heating and cooling from escaping our homes through the walls and attic. It’s fairly easy to check the attic to determine if sufficient insulation is in place. If not, add to or replace the existing insulation. Rigid waterproof insulation panels are perfect for the basement. They not only insulate but also seal against water. Another source of energy loss is the HVAC ductwork. Make sure it has sufficient insulation or replace them.
4. Search for Pests
Cracks and gaps in basement walls let in moisture as well as pests, from ants to termites and spiders to rodents. Once inside they can do a great deal of damage. As just one example, termites can start reducing the wooden support beams to sawdust. Search for rodent droppings, nests, ant trails, and termite mud tubes. Depending on what you find, call in an exterminator. It’s also wise to seal any cracks that are letting in the critters.
5. Test Basement Appliances
Once you’ve found traces of water in the basement, it’s best to look for signs of more serious flooding. A high-water line on the walls indicates the highest level of any flooding. That same level can be expected to have inundated any appliances in the basement, from washers and dryers to furnaces and water heaters. Have a technician test the appliances and the electrical system to make sure everything is working correctly. They can also build a list of any required repairs or replacements.
6. Review Exterior Water Drainage
If you found moisture in the basement, it’s either coming from leaky plumbing or from the outside. That typically means water is pooling around the basement walls, building pressure that causes cracks through which it enters the basement. The first place to check are the gutters and downspouts. If they’re clogged, the rain will run directly off the roof onto the foundation. Check the surrounding landscaping. It should be graded to ensure any water flows away from the foundation. It might also be a good idea to install gutter downspout extensions. Find a gutter and downspout specialist to correct any issues.
We Can Help
As you consider any basement issues in properties in the Charlotte area you may be considering for investment, contact the professionals at Dry Pro Foundation and Crawl Space Specialists. We can provide a free inspection and repair estimate.