Originally posted 4/15/19, updated 9/20/21
Rain makes our crops grow, but it can also create problems for your home’s foundation. This is especially true if those showers are heavy rains, or you live near a lake or river. You may wonder, what does my location have to do with anything? The answer is: if you live on property with a high water table, you’ll have more water-based trouble.
Acculevel is a family-owned and operated company specializing in waterproofing and foundation repair. Since our start in 1996, we’ve helped more than 30,000 homeowners preserve their homes against the heavy rains our Midwestern weather often provides.
In this article, we’re going to explore how heavy rains cause problems, what you can do to prevent those problems from happening (or getting worse), and when you need to contact a professional contractor.
How Can Rain Damage Your Foundation?
There are two major ways rain can hurt your foundation: hydrostatic pressure and erosion. If you have a lot of clay in your soil, or live in an area with a high water table, hydrostatic pressure is more likely to be a problem. If you have a more granular soil without clay, erosion is a greater threat.
Hydrostatic Pressure Creates Cracks
The soil around your home absorbs water. If there is more water in the ground than the ground can manage (oversaturation), the excess water pushes against anything in its path. This path often involves your home, and the water pressing against it is called hydrostatic pressure.
Your foundation is not a dam, designed to hold back water. But that is often what it becomes, when heavy rains fall. Sometimes, your foundation “wins” and keeps out the water- but the pressure still causes cracks to form in the walls or floor.
Other times, your foundation will “lose,” and water finds its way into your basement or crawl space. This can happen even when there are no cracks in your foundation! Since your foundation is made of concrete (a porous material), water can seep through it.
Neither of these are good outcomes for you or your home. Water intrusion brings odors and the risk of biological growth, as well as damaging whatever you have in your basement. Foundation cracks weaken the strength of your home’s structure; they may start small, but they don’t stay that way.
This photo was taken by an Acculevel project advisor during a free estimate appointment. You can see multiple cracks in the wall, and it is beginning to bow inward at the center.
Erosion Creates Settling
All homes settle, especially when they’re first built. That’s normal- it’s just the weight of the building gradually pushing into the ground, as you add fixtures and furniture. What you need to watch for is uneven settling. This is often caused by erosion, when heavy rains wash away soil under one section of the foundation.
Signs of uneven settling will appear all over your home. This is because the materials used to build your home- wood, concrete, steel- are rigid. They are not designed to bend or flex, so when one portion of the foundation sinks lower than the others, it strains the whole structure. Cracks form in the foundation where the problem begins, then spread upward. Wood framing will twist, and drywall will crack.
These are the most common signs your home has a settling foundation issue:
- Cracks in the exterior of the foundation.
- Doors or windows that no longer open/close smoothly. They may not stay open without a prop, or you may have to lock them to keep them closed.
- Drywall cracks- especially near door or window frames.
If settling is not corrected, your home will become more unstable. Windows will crack from pressure, gaps and drafts start to form, and even pipes will bend or burst.
How Can You Prevent Water Damage from Heavy Rains?
The best thing you can do as a homeowner is to regularly review your home and property. We’ve developed a free checklist of items you should evaluate at least twice per year; this is based on the service inspection program we offer at $500/5 years.
If you are worried about water intrusion, check out our blog on waterproofing from the outside. This explains what improvements you should make to your guttering, landscape, and lawn grading.
When Do You Need a Professional to Make Repairs?
If you need waterproofing installed, or have cracks in your foundation, you should contact an experienced and reputable contractor or repair company. I understand that this may sound self-serving, given that Acculevel is an expert in these areas.
But your foundation is the base of your home. Everything is literally resting on top of it. Foundation repair is not an area for DIY experiments; you can cause serious harm to your home, its stability, and its value if you make a mistake. Hiring a good professional company should come with a strong and reliable warranty.
For most of our foundation repairs and waterproofing services, Acculevel warranties our installations for the life of your structure. (Think you know how long a lifetime warranty is? I was shocked, and more than a bit dismayed by the truth.)
Waterproofing is another arena that should be limited to the professionals. Interior water drainage requires breaking up the concrete around the perimeter of your basement. Have you ever used a jackhammer? Are you sure you could identify and avoid breaking the foundation’s footings? Again, there are a number of ways you could seriously harm yourself or your home.
In this video, one of our project advisors walks you through a waterproofing installation:
Do You Need More Information?
We strive to provide homeowners with the knowledge they need, to make the best decisions for you and your home. That includes compiling thorough and detailed guides that answer all of your questions about causes, repair methods, costs, and possible complications.
Live somewhere outside of Indiana and the surrounding areas? Make sure you hire a company that is reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.