The Importance of a Home Foundation Inspection

The Importance of a Home Foundation Inspection

Surrey, BC, Canada, is a beautiful city with a rich history, tons of access to nature, and close proximity to Vancouver. Unfortunately, the climate and geology both contribute to foundation damage, so under-home issues are prevalent in and around the city.

Below, we’ll be discussing the most common foundation issues, the underlying problems that cause them, and the most appropriate solutions for each. We’ll also discuss some red flags that indicate foundation problems and the importance of a foundation inspection to identify them.

Common Foundation Issues in Surrey, BC

Unfortunately, there are quite a few foundation problems that frequently occur in Surrey. We’ll explain each of them below, along with the most likely cause.

Foundation Cracks

Every foundation will crack at some point after it’s poured. Most cracks are just superficial and form from the natural settlement of the concrete under the weight of the house above. There are a few different types of cracks you might find, all of which should be remedied with foundation crack repair.

Hairline cracks on the basement floor or running vertically on foundation walls are typical from settling and aren’t structural. In other areas, these could safely be ignored. However, given the excessive rainfall in Surrey, it’s best to have them sealed to prevent water intrusion.

Horizontal cracks on the foundation wall are much more severe. These form when the clay soil that is prevalent in Surrey soaks up water and expands, placing hydrostatic pressure on the foundation wall. Eventually, the concrete gives way to the stress and shifts inward. 

Horizontal cracks almost always indicate structural damage and need to be stabilized immediately. The best solution is typically to install earth anchors, which stabilize your foundation wall against the expanding soil. In Surrey, these can total between $2,000 and $7,500, depending on the extent of the damage and the length of your wall.

Stair-shaped cracks on the foundation wall are just as dangerous in most situations. They develop when the expansive soil around your home swells and shrinks unevenly, leaving sections of your foundation to settle more quickly into the ground than others.

These cracks typically require stabilization with supportive piers placed underneath your home. In Surrey, this solution can total between $5,000 and $20,000, depending on the number and type of piers required.

Water Intrusion

Residents of Surrey are well-acquainted with the above-average rainfall in the area, which typically totals over 100 inches per year. This amount of water falling around your property can easily find its way through your foundation, either through settling cracks or directly through the pores in the material.

The above-average rainfall is problematic enough on its own. However, the risk of water intrusion becomes more severe when coupled with absorbent soil that holds water against your foundation and the hilly topography in Surrey, which can cause pooling near your house.

Water intrusion can damage building material, like sheetrock, floor joists, studs, flooring, and insulation. It can also promote mold growth and make your under-home area more enticing to insects.

One of the most permanent solutions to water intrusion and moisture accumulation is a basement waterproofing system. Your system in Surrey can range from $2,500 up to about $10,000. It may include a French drain system, an interior drainage system, sump pumps, dampproofing, soil gradation, a gutter system, and more.

Foundation Red Flags in Surrey, BC, Canada

Whether you’re buying or selling a home in Surrey or you want to identify and fix issues quickly to minimize repair costs, the below red flags will help you locate foundation damage in your home.

Foundation Cracks

One of the easiest ways to identify foundation damage is to inspect the inside of your basement for cracks. Vertical cracks and hairline gaps on the floor are common and usually of no significant concern. However, you should have a professional waterproof them for you.

Horizontal cracks and stair-step cracks on the walls and wide or uneven gaps on the floor are much more severe. These usually indicate structural damage and should be inspected by a structural engineer immediately.

We recommend inspecting your basement once every few months just to keep track of any changes, including widening or lengthening gaps. Any growth or appearance of cracks years after the home is built should be a red flag.

Water or Moisture in the Basement

Given the prevalence of water problems in Surrey basements, any signs of water or moisture should serve as red flags. Head down into your basement about once a month to look for symptoms of water intrusion.

Note any dampness or musty odors in the air, which are reasonable indications of a moisture problem. Look for mold growth on the walls, as well as a flaky white powder, which is an accumulation of minerals from intruding water that has evaporated into your basement.

Check for water trickling in through cracks, water stains on the walls and floor, and any symptoms of pest infestation.

Damage in Your Living Space and Outside

Finally, you can identify foundation red flags upstairs in your home and your yard.

As you walk through your house, look for signs of foundation movement. These include cracks in the sheetrock around doors and windows, doors or windows that don’t open or close easily, uneven flooring, and cabinets or countertops pulling away from the walls behind them.

When you head outside, look for uneven roofing, a leaning chimney, and cracks in the siding. These symptoms indicate foundation movement in most cases. You can also inspect your yard for areas that pool water, as these can indicate soil expansion below that can be detrimental for your foundation.

Wrapping Up: Why a Foundation Inspection Is Necessary

Home foundations are at severe risk of damage in Surrey, so inspecting your under-home area regularly for symptoms of a problem is crucial.

Foundation problems typically worsen over time because they are under immense stress. Identifying issues early and having them inspected and repaired by a professional will almost always save you money in the long run.

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