Shifting Foundations Can Cause Plumbing, HVAC & Electrical Problems

Staff MgmtElectrical, HVAC, Plumbing

Your home is your biggest investment. We know, we’re stating the obvious here, but it’s our mission to keep your biggest investment in top working order. So, we’ll remind you of your investment’s value over and over again, especially when major issues pop up – like foundation problems!

We’ve served the plumbing, electrical, air conditioning and heating needs of Houston homeowners for more than 50 years. In all that time, we’ve seen hundreds of cases where the problem we’re called out to fix was actually caused by a shift in the home’s foundation. Cracked and leaky pipes, electrical shorts, and separated air conditioning ductwork can all be caused by foundation problems. When this happens, we usually can repair the immediate issue to restore comfort and convenience over the short term, but the real fix is getting the foundation repaired quickly before more costly problems arise.

We get it — the words “foundation problem” strike terror into most homeowners, and with good reason. Foundation repairs can be expensive, but the cost of ignoring a foundation problem is so much worse! If you see any of the following tell-tale signs of foundation weakness, call in a certified foundation repair company now to test your foundation before a small headache grows into a major structural nightmare.
• Foundation cracks more than a quarter-inch in width
• New or enlarging cracks along exterior walls
• Plumbing leaks associated with cracks in the slab
• Multiple small cracks in walls along window frames and doorjambs
• Stuck or misaligned windows and doors
• Cracks in floor tile, or tiles coming loose with moisture and cracks beneath

Fixing your Foundation in Houston. Finding and Hiring the Best Contractor

Diagnosing and repairing foundations is a science, and you need a qualified, reputable foundation repair company to do the job right. We recommend working only with licensed, insured and bonded foundation repair companies who warranty their work. And don’t be afraid to get several estimates — in writing — before deciding who to use. After all, your biggest investment is at stake!
Once you’ve hired a company, they’ll conduct a series of foundation assessments and take detailed measurements in and around your home. Based on their findings, they’ll suggest a repair plan that usually includes one or a combination of the following:

Pier and Piling Foundation Repairs

This type of foundation repair lifts and supports dropped foundation sections using a series of underpinning piers or piling structures. The type used is determined by many factors such as home size and age, foundation type, soil type, and the foundation issue being corrected. Whatever method is used, piers and pilings are set at depths that are not affected by soil moisture changes and erosion issues.

Slab Jacking Foundation Repairs

Also known as mud jacking, slab jacking is commonly used on concrete slabs, sidewalks, driveways and swimming pool decks. It involves pumping cement grout into a series of holes drilled in your slab. This grout hardens into a concrete mass to bring the slab back to its proper height, shore up cracks and separated sections, and reinforce the subsoil on which the slab rests.

Repairing and Preventing Foundation-Related Problems

As we mentioned earlier, we’re often the first to spot foundation issues through problems in plumbing, electrical or air conditioning and heating systems. But once your foundation is fixed, it’s a good idea to have us review your home’s vital systems and address any issues lingering after the repair process. Remember; your home is a network of connected systems. When one is affected by foundation movement, chances are others are affected, too.

Electrical Problems Due to Foundation Issues

Losing the electrical ground to your home is one of the most common foundation-related electrical problems we find. Plus, exterior wall shifts and cracks can affect electrical panels and the connections within. Wires only give so much before they break or separate, causing shorts, flipped breakers and potential fire hazards. Your home’s electrical system should always be reviewed after foundation repairs, and our licensed electricians will make sure it’s in safe working order.

Plumbing Problems Due to Foundation Issues

Shifting foundations and yard soils can crack and separate plumbing and sewer lines. After foundation repairs are completed, your home’s piping system should be thoroughly inspected to pinpoint and repair any cracked pipes or joint separations. Our licensed plumbers will ensure small foundation-related leaks don’t grow into big headaches.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Problems Due to Foundation Issues

According to Lewis Yancey, a John Moore HVAC coach, a major foundation crack or break can lead to problems within your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

“An extreme foundation issue can actually separate the air duct connections or affect the level and balance of the HVAC units,” Yancey says. “All of this can lower airflow efficiency which will, of course, waste energy and cost more money in heating and cooling.”

Stopping Foundation Problems Before They Start

Why do foundations crack and shift in the first place? How can you prevent it? Frankly, every Houston homeowner needs to know the answers to these questions. Foundation problems are a plague in Houston. Extreme weather patterns and sandy, loose, “gumbo” soils make it hard to maintain a strong foundation year after year, but there is hope! Here are the common causes of foundation problems in Houston, plus a few things you can do to minimize their effects on your home.

Houston Wet and Dry Cycles:

Houston weather is notorious for its wet and dry weather cycles. Long, soaking rains followed by minor droughts cause the soil underneath your home’s foundation to expand and contract unevenly, leading to cracked and shifting foundations. Proper downspout drainage that vents water away from foundations can help, as can watering your foundation during dry cycles.

Improper Drainage:
This is another problem related to Houston’s heavy rains. Water runoff that pools or drains alongside your home causes uneven soil moisture and, eventually, foundation damage. Again, venting water downspouts and runoff flows away from foundations will help.

Foundation Soil Issues:
Houston-area soils tend to be loose and must be properly compacted before foundations are poured. Since Houston is in a constant housing boom, new homes go up fast and foundation soils aren’t always prepared correctly. If this is the case with your home, quickly shoring up small foundation issues can help prevent larger ones in the future.

Soil Erosion:
Flowing water can erode foundation soils quickly, especially if your home is built on a slope. Even one Houston rain event can lead to major erosion and foundation issues, but venting the flow of water runoff away from foundations can help keep the soil intact.

Tree and Shrubbery Roots:
Plant roots seek moisture and often find it underneath your home’s foundation. Large roots can grow underneath your home and lift concrete foundations, while smaller roots sap moisture from the soil underneath, causing the dirt to dry out and drop foundations. Root blockers, placing plants away from foundations, and effective watering can help prevent root issues.