For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come.
You may know these words from either the Song of Solomon or legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, but in any case they herald the coming of spring. As you emerge from your long winter’s nap, your home is also experiencing a change of season. With warmer temperatures and more daylight, spring is the perfect time to give your home a foundation inspection.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on a crawlspace, basement or combination of the two. Taking the time to walk around your home’s foundation, both inside and out, could give you powerful clues as to potential problems that could have been hiding all winter.
For homes with a basement, lets start at the cove. That’s the name for where the walls meet the slab or floor. Using a flashlight, follow along the cove and check for any water. Next, move up the walls and check for any cracks. With block wall construction pay special attention to the grout lines between the blocks. Poured walls may have small circular quarter-sized patches filled with a caulk or epoxy. Check them both for any signs of moisture.
Crawlspaces have limited space and sometimes difficult access but checking them is just as important. Look for any standing water or mold growth. Excess moisture here causes mold, mildew, along with wood rot and sagging floors.
Sump pumps can be found in both basements and crawlspaces. You may have become used to a relatively quiet unit during the winter months, but snowmelt and groundwater can combine with hydrostatic pressure, quickly pushing your sump pump into heavy service. Make sure it can handle that job by pouring a bucket of water into the crock to actuate the pump and confirm the flow into the drain.
Now that the indoor work is done, it’s time to grab either your smartphone or a pad of paper, pen, and binoculars. Start by looking down at the same walls you looked up at when you were in the basement. Note any exterior cracks that also appeared on the inside. If you have brick or stonework on the exterior, look for cracking or where it looks like sections are pulling away.
Why the binoculars? We’re not going bird watching just yet. Using them, or the camera on your phone, zoom in for a close up view of your gutters. See if either debris or leftover ice dams block them. Look at any seams or corners for black stains or spots. Those are evidence of a leaky gutter. Confirm that all downspouts are connected and run at least six feet away from the foundation.
No matter how you celebrate the coming of spring, taking the time to make sure you have a working water management system around your home’s foundation will give you peace of mind.