By Shawn Kyles

With January just around the corner, now is a good time to start thinking about your foundation maintenance program for the coming year. Regular inspections of your home, landscape, roof and basement are extremely important. They can help you avoid serious foundation issues and the need for major reconstruction.

Here is a checklist you can use to spot situations that are an indicator of foundation damage as well as problems that can lead to foundation trouble.

1. Inspect your roof for leaks. Clear out any debris in the gutters. Clogged gutters can cause puddles to form on the roof and water to seep into your home. Dripping water can damage your ceiling, walls, insulation and electrical wiring.

2. If you have sprinklers, make sure the water is not draining into your home or basement. The soil around your home may need grading to ensure proper water drainage.

3. Keep the moisture in the soil consistent. Soil that expands and contracts under the house can cause foundation problems.

4. Check the plumbing for leaks and loose fitting pipes.

5. If you have a slab foundation, look for warm spots or moisture on the slab. There may be a pipe leak under the slab.

6. Do you have a fireplace? Look for cracks in the brick that may have resulted from settlement.

7. Check for exterior brick wall cracking as well. Moisture that enters through these cracks can cause wall and insulation damage.

8. Inspect your doors and windows. If your windows and door frames have started to pull away from the wall, or they don?t open and close properly, it could be an indicator of foundation settlement.

9. Looks for interior wall and ceiling cracks, which are also signs of foundation problems.

10. Inspect your floors for any type of damage, including loose tiles. Are your floors starting to slope? Many times sloping floors are caused by foundation settlement. All homes settle over time. Too much settlement however, causes foundation damage.

11. Check your foundation for cracks, holes and other types of damage. Make sure your foundation walls are centered on footings. Does it look like your foundation has shifted? This could be the result of too much foundation settlement as well.

Approximately 1 in 5 homeowners put off making repairs. Remember that waiting to fix problems often results in more significant damage and escalated costs.

The safety of your family is also at stake. When foundation problems are ignored, the building?s structural integrity becomes increasingly compromised. During an earthquake, there is a greater chance of the home shifting off of its foundation. Even minor seismic activity could lead to a wall or roof collapse depending on the severity of the foundation problem.

If you want a thorough and detailed inspection of your home and property, contact a foundation repair company with extensive experience. A company that has inspected thousands of homes and businesses will know exactly what to look for when checking out your house. They can also give you knowledgeable advice on any repairs that may be needed.

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