Hidden dangers - How Poor Topography Can Adversely Affect Your Foundation

- Tuesday, February 01, 2022

When a homeowner thinks about home improvements, they normal consider the aesthetics of the improvement.  But that might be putting the cart before the horse if you have topographical issues that can adversely affect the very foundation of your house.  The CrackDaddy explains.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcast provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: Hidden dangers – How poor topography can adversely affect your foundation.

Narrator: So Adam, when a homeowner thinks about home improvements, they normally consider the aesthetics of the improvement. And that might be put in the cart before the horse if you have topographical issues that can adversely affect the very foundation of your house, am I right?

Adam: You’re absolutely correct here. And even if you take a step back from already owning the house, when you go in and look at the house, you may have to look beyond the immediate fence line of the yard to understand what kind of issues you may or may not have with that particular area. A lot of times we’ll get phone calls from homeowners or prospective homeowners looking at a property and they find this has a lot of signs of moisture in the basement. We come to find out they may be located in an area that is just naturally prone to that. So these are kind of some tips and some areas that you need to be aware of beyond the immediate geography of your house and where that’s located.

As you look through the neighborhood and in the area, how that may affect what the home is capable of in terms of issues in the basement and what kind of water issues you may have. The first thing that everyone always is aware of is whether or not the house is built into a hill or on a slope. A lot of times, especially in some of the rocky, hillier portions of New England that have houses built one step up from the other, you have a lot of downward flowing water. So, the further you’re downhill, more water potential there. And when it comes to landscaping around that and making sure that the grading is good, you’re really stuck because you can’t have the grading go away from the house all the time because you’re going to have a hill behind you.

So, a lot of these houses, they may be a perfect house but you’re looking at it as, what other issues may come up because of this, and that’s a very obvious one. And most realtors will kind of pick up on that as well, and even most homeowners as they’re looking at houses will say there’s a lot of hills coming into the house here, I wonder what this is going to be like in the rainy season or in the snow season where everything starts melting.

But a lot of times people overlook some very simple things when they’re looking at houses or they’re considering what they’re looking at for their house. A big thing is ledge, and ledge is the natural bedrock that you’ll see, kind of outcropping from the yard. So, as you kind of look through the neighborhood, you may see people that have large stones that just come out of the ground – they could be the size of a car, they could be larger. They could be kind of smaller and be kind of hidden underneath. A lot of times there are issues with that because if you have issues with construction or we have a minor earthquake, these houses are usually pinned or built right on top of these rocks. And there’s very little give to them so they will actually rattle and shake a little bit more violently than the soil because it’s like hitting a hard rod against a wall versus the soft object.

So it doesn’t have as much give to it, so you will get cracking from that, typically. Other things with ledge that people often overlook at have water issues with it. So why would you have a water issue when you’re built on rocks? Well, you don’t have natural drainage, and when you don’t have natural drainage, the water doesn’t have anywhere to go. More importantly too, is that ledge and bedrock have the ability to build up a lot of water pressure. There’s a lot of homes up on the north shore of New England that are built right on top of it and you can actually see some of the ledge that is inside the actual basement. And a lot of times we get calls on, hey I have water coming in too here, what do I do? In reality there’s not a whole lot you can do because you’re not going to waterproof a stone, there’s too much water pressure that can get built up. You just have to mitigate it as best as you can by channeling water into a different area, maybe at the sump pump if you can get one in there.

So, looking around to seeing if there’s a lot of rocky outcroppings in the area, maybe a sign that you’re built on or very near ledge could be some potential things you’d have to consider with the foundation. The other thing that people often overlook are wetlands or retention ponds in new neighborhoods. These wetland areas are obviously going to be naturally wet, they’re wetlands. But the issue is that they’re often at the same level as the foundation. Most new developments will have some sort of retention pond built until up the drainage system for the roads, and that retention pond, again, is usually situated somewhere centrally or could be offside a little bit. But those are very much near the foundations and are usually at the same level of the foundation.

So as the storm water goes into these areas and the water level rises, you will have a naturally higher water table in and around these areas especially with the wetland areas as well. So, it’s very important to kind of look at this beyond just the immediate border of the ground that your house is sitting on, and look to see beyond there and see how water may affect it. Most obvious one that people will usually pick up on even beyond having a hilly terrain is rivers and streams. The closer you are to those, naturally you’re going to be more susceptible to water issues there. Don’t overlook a little brook that runs to the back of the yard or like just beyond the property line as it might only be a small trickle in the summertime but as the water comes up a little higher in the spring and in the fall, you’re going to see a little bit more wetness coming into the soils there.

A final thing that you want to consider is, see if you can get a little history on what the land may have been many years ago. There are many developments that come in to find out that it was a farmland, or may have been an apple orchard. Well, farmland and apple orchards, they’re very good at holding water and they’re very good at keeping water in the soil, that’s why they’re used for that purpose. So, if you do know that this was a farmland or might have been a pasture at one point in time, that might be a sign that the soils are really good but it also can be that the soil holds a lot of water, and it might have a lot of clay in there as well.

These tips are things that you want to consider as you’re looking at homes and maybe thinking about what you can do with the basement because these are all issues that will come up eventually, and it’s good to know what the basements are capable of based on what could be there.

Narrator: Wow. Well, always a wealth of information, Adam. Thanks for explaining how poor topography can adversely affect your home.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.

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A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.

E-mail: info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com
Toll Free: 866-929-3171

Call Us Today at 866-929-3171

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.