After the Flood: Now What?

There’s just something gut-wrenching about seeing a lake of water shimmering up at you as you stand helpless at the top of your basement stairs. Once you get over your initial panic, you dry everything out and seal it up to make sure it never happens again. So, job done, right?

Not exactly. While you may have solved the problem of water leaking into your home, you haven’t done anything to address the water outside your home.

Wait a minute — why should you care about water outside your home?

The answer is, water is heavy. Lifting a gallon jug of the stuff will tell you that. Now imagine tens of thousands of gallons of extra water saturating the soil surrounding your basement. That’s a lot of extra weight — literally tons — pressing on your foundation walls, with nothing but air pushing back on the other side.

This extra pressure from saturated soils can cause foundation walls to begin to fail. Depending on whether you have a poured concrete or block foundation, this failure can show up with different symptoms. You might see horizontal cracks in a block wall, indicating that it’s bowing inward. You might see diagonal or vertical cracks in a poured wall, indicating that it’s starting to fail. Your basement walls can even break their connections with your home’s framing and tip in from the top. You may not even see any symptoms — but your walls could be just months or weeks away from failing.

So, how can you prevent catastrophic basement wall failure? Thankfully, it’s actually pretty easy. There are a variety of foundation repair solutions that can prevent walls from failing. In fact, there are solutions that can even straighten walls that have begun to fail already. The key is to get a foundation repair expert to inspect your home as soon as possible.

A good foundation inspector will take up to two hours or more to look at every aspect of your home’s basement walls. When the inspection is over, he or she should let you know three things: exactly what is causing the problem, exactly how to fix it and exactly how much the solution will cost. This is extremely important, because the cost of doing nothing is generally much higher than the cost of facing the problem and addressing it sooner rather than later. This is especially true when it comes to selling your home, where a foundation issue can lop 10, 20 even 30 percent off the asking price of your home. You don’t have to be a mathematician to understand that this can quickly add up to a very large sum of money.

The bottom line is, heavy rains or snow melt can saturate the soils around your home, and your foundation may not be strong enough to resist that extra weight. So, getting your foundation inspected now could be the smartest move you made since you bought your home.