A strong foundation is the crucial part of a strong house. Naturally it follows that weak foundations will lead to a weak house. This is probably something you’d want to avoid when constructing a new home, if only to avoid having to shore up any damages later. One of the key ways to have damaged and weak foundations is to not properly waterproof them. Moisture getting into your new home’s foundation can cause much damage, damage that is very expensive to repair. That is assuming it does not render your home nearly uninhabitable as well.
The consequences of not properly waterproofing your new home’s foundations then are understandably dire, but what exactly are they?
Concrete is Not Waterproof
Despite what you may think, concrete is not waterproof. It is surprisingly porous, and will let in moisture if not properly waterproofed. This is largely because of how concrete is made and holds itself together.
Concrete is made up of three parts. Aggregate (sand and gravel), concrete mix, and water. As the concrete sets and solidifies, the water will eventually bleed out, dry up and evaporate. This leaves behind numerous pores and capillaries in the concrete that, if left untreated, can allow in new moisture from the soil and the air. This means that concrete foundations will allow moisture from the surrounding soil to seep through into the basement or underneath the building proper. As you can expect, this is rather a bad thing.
Simply put, having an ill-protected foundation will let all sorts of bad substances into your home and its foundations, compromising the safety of both as well as any occupants within the building.
One particular problem that not properly waterproofing your foundations can create is discovered the moment the winter sets in. As water seeps through into your concrete foundations, it will begin to freeze as the temperatures drop. Frozen water expands, and after a few years the constant cycle of freezing, expansion, and thaw will widen up any cracks that have formed in the concrete and make them worse. This creates an amplifying effect whereby the larger fissures allow more water into them, which will expand even further as the cold sets in and make the cracks even larger.
After a while, your foundations will start to crumble and fall apart as they are literally broken up from the inside out. Remember what the Good Book says about building on sand? That is not just theology; it is sound building advice too. Broken foundations will mean your house is unstable, and will start to shift as the soil beneath it moves. This will create immense damages to your house, damages that are very expensive to repair in the long run.
As well as structural damage, another consequence of poorly waterproofed foundations in your new home is the risk of letting dangerous substances into your household. The soil around your house, after all, probably contains a fair amount of noxious substances. For example, a good chunk of it probably has decaying matter, such as old leaves or even dead vermin. As this stuff rots, it’ll release methane, and that gets trapped in the soil. As water passes through it, that methane is then carried through your foundations and into the basement or under the house. A build up of methane is very dangerous, not just because high quantities of methane are toxic, but because it is also highly flammable.
Rotting matter and methane are not your only problems. Septic tanks and sewer lines may also, over time, leak into the soil and add to the methane build up, as well as present other biological hazards. If you are really unlucky, you may also find gas lines leaking into the soil as well, the consequences of which can be just as explosive as methane. Finally, insecticides and other chemicals common to gardening and agriculture can also sink into the soil, presenting a further chemical problem to your home’s foundations.
Another danger comes from the various diseases that may be carried into your home as well. You should not at all be surprised by just how many illness you can get if you allow dirty water to start seeping into your home. So if you want to avoid catching serious illnesses, you may want to make sure your foundations are properly waterproofed.
Make Sure Your Foundations are Waterproofed
It is quite clear then that you want foundations that are strong, sturdy and, above all, watertight. To achieve this, you need to make sure that you hire a competent builder with a good reputation and a long-line history of high-quality work. Avoid cutting corners or going for cheapness over quality. You want to get this right first time, as improperly laid foundations are near impossible to fix and comes at a high cost.
You may also want to hire an independent inspector to go over the building and make sure everything is up to snuff with the foundations before further construction begins. It is worth the effort, and will help ensure that your home is not just long-lasting, but also safe to live in.
Christian Mills, the author, loves to spend his time upgrading and improving his home, making sure it is in the best possible condition at all times. Waterproofing is one of the few tasks that eludes him however, and for this vital task he turns to Raleigh Waterproofing. You can learn more about Christian on Google+.