Take preventative measures to ensure the integrity of your home’s foundation. While a concrete foundation may be the proverbial rock upon which a house is built, even this seemingly indestructible component can be vulnerable to damage and failure. When it comes to upgrading your home’s foundation, there are two main factors to consider: retrofitting and drainage.
Earthquakes are a major concern in California (particularly in the Bay Area), so it’s vital to reinforce the integrity of your home and its foundation before it’s too late. Earthquake retrofitting is a preventative measure that’s designed to minimize the extent of structural damage sustained during an earthquake. As our understanding of the effects of earthquakes and development of corresponding construction techniques have improved in recent years, the need for retrofitting older homes has become a great concern. In San Francisco alone, considerable attention has been given to improving the infrastructures of buildings that lack the reinforcement necessary to prevent damage and/or collapse.
While numerous aspects are involved in a complete building retrofit, one that specifically pertains to the foundation is “foundation bolting,” also known as anchoring. The purpose of anchoring is to prevent a home from sliding off its foundation during an earthquake. This is achieved by installing a series of bolts that improve the connection between the wood frame and its concrete foundation. Many homes built before the late 1980s may not have foundation bolts, or the existing bolts may be weakened or too far apart to provide adequate earthquake resistance. To ensure your home’s foundation bolts work as efficiently as possible, have a foundation contractor come out and inspect the situation.
While an earthquake represents immediate and dramatic damage to a home’s infrastructure, many homeowners fail to consider the kind of damage that can occur gradually and unnoticed. Moisture is one of the leading causes of foundation damage, which is why adequate drainage and waterproofing is essential for maintaining the structural stability and integrity of your home.
The primary function of a drainage system is to divert water away from a home and its foundation. In addition to important fixtures such as gutters and downspouts, the most fundamental aspect of foundation drainage is a proper slope or grade of the landscape surrounding it. While a slope of 1 inch per foot is usually adequate for a distance of 5 to 6 feet, you should still check to make sure there’s no water stagnation within 10 feet of your home’s foundation. To avoid deterioration of a slope over time, the earth around your house should be compacted, preferably with a mechanical compactor to maintain its rigidity. If it’s impossible to create an adequate slope, consider installing a peripheral area drain.
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