Geography and the Construction of a Foundation

Every home must be built on a fine foundation, and commercial foundation repair may be done every so often to keep house foundations in good shape. Foundation problems may arise due to water in or near the house, such as with clay-rich soils. Limestone formations were popular in the early 1900s, but they have not aged well, and flooding damage may be common. When a house is built in clay-rich soils, contractors should keep that in mind. And even if there are not clay-rich soils present, a local fault line may prohibit certain foundation types from being built. What are the types of foundations to keep in mind, and how can clay-rich soils or flash floods harm a basement?

Foundation Varieties

There are four common types of foundations, but clay-rich soils or fault lines may make some foundation types risky. The first type is slab, which is exactly that: a solid piece of concrete laid on the ground that a home is built upon. This is popular among newer homes built in Texas, and few problems may arise with such a simple and solid foundation type. The only major drawback is that slab foundations do not offer some of the features that other foundation types do.

Crawlspaces are another popular foundation type. Unlike slab, crawlspaces are concrete formations that elevate the house around 18″ off the ground. This provides two key advantages. For one, the home is resistant to flooding, since the water will simply pass right under the home, no damage done. For another, that crawlspace gets its name because it provides room for foundation contractors to crawl under the home and effect repairs. Plumbers and electricians may do this too, and a crawlspace is a fine way to access utilities or materials under the home.

Meanwhile, beam and pillar foundations are similar to crawlspaces, but they also have wooden and concrete beams and pillars to support them underground. This model is the most price-effective, but it should be noted that earthquakes can do a lot of damage. A geologist may be consulted to determine if this model of foundation is safe to build in a given area.

The final foundation type is another popular one: basements. Many homes have them, and basements are desired by many homeowners simply because they add a lot of square footage to the home. A basement is a place for storage, or it may even be remodeled into a living space if so desired. Basements are resistant to earthquakes and fire alike, and they may last for many years. The main issue here is that water damage affects basements more than most other foundation types, so a homeowner with a basement may be dealing with intruding water from time to time.

Water in the Basement

For a home with a basement, clay-rich soils may be an issue. Why? Clay-rich soils expand and contract due to moisture, and rain will cause them to aggressively expand. This water-heavy, expanding soil can put a lot of pressure onto basement walls, and this is an even more grave threat against old basements. In the early 1900s, limestone brick formations were popular for basements, as mentioned above. The problem is that these brick walls will bulge inwards due to pressure of water-heavy clay soil, and these walls will have cracks that leak water constantly. Once these walls start bulging, they cannot be put back into the original shape.

In other cases, flood water or heavy rain may leak into the basement, or pipes in the house may leak water that drips onto the floor. Either way, a homeowner can expect a lot of water to pool down in their basement, and this pooled water can erode the floors and walls and even damage furniture. Loose water also fosters mold growth.

What can be done? Limestone walls cannot be replaced, but foundation experts can build concrete walls that contain them and prevent further bulging or leaks. Foundation experts can help seal up leaks that allow flood water in, and plumbers can install sump pumps and drainage channels. These pumps gather loose water with those channels and draw water right out of the basement, depositing it elsewhere. This can be a real boon for any home in a flood-prone area.

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