The official state soil of Indiana is called Miami. It’s made of silt loam and clay. Unfortunately, that type of soil along with our frequent rain and snow can spell trouble for a home’s foundation.
When it soaks up the rain, it expands and places stress on basement walls. When it dries out, it contracts, placing a similar but opposite stress on the foundation along with allowing a ready path for rain to find its way directly to the basement walls.
Given this, when you’re considering a home investment, it’s worth your time to thoroughly review the property for any basement issues. To help, we’ve provided six steps to identify those issues.
1. Conduct a Structural Inspection
The entire house is built on its foundation. In the case of a basement, that means the basement walls and its interior beams. If the walls start to crumble due to cracking, bowing, or bulging, the house will have serious problems throughout. Look for problems with cracking in interior walls and ceilings, sinking or tilted floors, and cracking exterior brickwork. It could also show up as doors that won’t close and sticking windows. It’s best to call in a foundation repair professional for a full assessment of the issues and how to repair them.
2. Search for Water Damage
Once you’re in the basement, look for damp floors, water spots on walls, musty smells, mold and mildew, leaky basement windows, and don’t forget to look at possible plumbing leaks. Any water from any source can cause serious problems in the basement including rotting wood, ruined carpeting, and damaged drywall. The best repair option is usually basement waterproofing that includes interior drainage, a sump pump, and a dehumidifier. Basement waterproofing experts can provide further insight into your specific basement issues.
3. Assess the Building’s Insulation
A home’s insulation impacts utility costs, air quality, and the overall comfort of the family. While you can’t easily examine the insulation levels in the exterior walls of the home, you can review the basement and the attic. Since more than half a home’s air comes from the basement, that’s a good place to start. Make sure any insulation on basement walls is sufficient, dry, and hasn’t been damaged. Ideally, it would be waterproof insulating panels that also form a vapor barrier. For the attic, make sure there’s a sufficient level of insulation, adding or replacing as needed. It’s also wise to look over the HVAC ductwork for any damage and adequate insulation.
4. Inspect for Pests
Pests are no fun once they’re in a home. Rodents can build nests, leave unhealthy droppings, and chew up insulation and electrical wires. Termites have their own special ways of taking on wood structural supports and causing considerable damage. These critters as well as ants and spiders make their way into the basement through any cracks and gaps in the foundation walls. Seal those cracks and seal against moisture issues at the same time. For serious infestations, call an exterminator.
5. Test Basement Appliances and Mechanicals
If you’ve found evidence of water damage, you’ll need to look closely at basement mechanicals and appliances including the water heater, dryer, washer, and HVAC system. High water levels could have also come into contact with electrical outlets and wiring. Not only that but high humidity could cause corrosion of any metal items in the basement including the electrical circuit box. Testing the appliances and electrical system is best left to qualified technicians. They can also generate a repair listing.
6. Review Outside Water Drainage
If you found water in the basement, it more than likely arrived from outside rather than interior plumbing leaks. That means it’s also important to make sure outside drainage systems are operating properly. This includes the gutters and downspouts. They need to be clear of obstructions and moving water off the roof, onto the ground, and away from the foundation. That is where landscape grading comes into play as well. It needs to move water away from the foundation rather than allowing it to pool at the basement walls seeking a way inside. Tree roots and shrubs can also impact the foundation. Make sure they are trimmed.
We Can Help With Basement Issues
As you consider any basement issues in properties you may be considering for investment, contact the professionals at Indiana Foundation Service. We can provide a free inspection and repair estimate.