The material used for a foundation will depend on when and where the home was built. Specifically, the foundation can be made of brick, stone, preservative-treated lumber, poured concrete or concrete block. The most common is concrete.
While most homes are built on raised, perimeter foundations so that they can support floors and load-bearing walls, others are built on flat, concrete slabs providing both a base and a bottom floor of the house.
Smaller homes, such as vacation homes, can also be known to be built on a series of concrete piers. Some may utilize all of these different types throughout the structure of the home.
Some basic terms for foundations include the bottom part, which is referred to a footing. This usually is wider than the foundation walls and located approximately 12 inches below the frost line. This will distribute the weight of the house to help prevent future settling or movement, which can lead to cracks in the walls, ceilings, etc.
In order to maximize the home's efficiency and protect the foundation, it is recommended to implement a moisture and air leakage control techniques, when you are installing a slab-on grade floor.
First, it is imperative to keep all untreated wood off the dirt. This will keep insects from infesting into the wood. Additionally, installing a plastic or rubberized roofing material or ice-dam to protect the woodâ€”this will help to reduce the wicking of water up from the foundation and serve as protection from termites. Installing a gasket between the slab and bottom plate is also recommended in order to provide air sealing.
It is highly recommended to install a drain system at the bottom of the footing. The system will include a filter fabric, gravel and perforated plastic drain pipe. The drain should be located beside the footing, not on top of it. This will help to avoid the water from flowing against the seam, which is between the footing and foundation wall.
Another suggestion is to install a moisture barrier and capillary break under the slab floor, which will contain a polyethylene vapor on top of approximately 4 inches of gravel.
After the home has been built and the siding and gutters are ready to be installed, ensure that the gutters are well-designed, with connecting downspouts where the water will be diverted away from the house completely.
This is some basic information about different types of foundations and what you can do to ensure that moisture does not collect underneath your home, which can introduce a whole host of problems, including rot and mold growth. Plus the barriers will also help to keep termites out of your home and away from the wood that is providing your home the structure.
Houses settle and the ground moves, so sometimes foundation repair is necessary to keep the structure safe. No matter how much DIY home improvement experience you have, you should not attempt to do the repair work yourself. You need a professional to keep the foundation from causing structural damage or total collapse.
There are a number of signs that your foundation could need repair work. These signs typically appear in the basement and lower level of your home first. They include cracks along bricks or concrete exterior, misalignment of doors or windows when they were previously fine, interior sheetrock cracks, and cracks in the floor. Only a professional can assess the problem to tell you if your foundation really does need help.
How do you find a professional? You can start the search at TrustedPros. Through our contractor directory, you'll find a profiles of contractors in your area who can review your home's situation and give you free estimates on the repair work. Or you can use our unique project-posting tool allows you to upload your project specifications and relax as contractor contact you.
There are a number of different ways to fix a damaged foundation. When you review the bids on your project, you can choose the contractor who uses the method that make the most sense to you.