Or perhaps when you’re pulling into your driveway you think, “Is there a warp in my tire? What was that bump?” But, it isn’t a bump. It’s the driveway that has risen or lowered an inch. Of course, no one wants to find out they have water issues this way. However, it does lead us back to the first thought that the land had acclimated itself… before someone built on it and put a bunch of houses next to each other like cord wood.
So why talk about the physiology of a house? Let’s introduce some other items to the picture. Take in to account what I shared about the presence of water or the lack of it on the exterior perimeter and underside of the home. Then consider that most houses are built with materials that are not fully cured. They’re still retaining moisture to some degree. When you realize that suppliers are shipping hundreds, if not thousands, of box cars of materials a day to home supply centers and some of these containers have been traversing the ocean for the last six weeks – well, the result can be moisture issues. Also, framing lumber often exudes the sticky pine tar as it cures in our homes.
Couple these delivery/installment issues with the fact that a family moves into a new home with the materials exuding moisture, and the homeowners are breathing and exhaling warm, moist air. The new homeowners are using the home’s HVAC system which will create moisture (condensation). They are also using the shower/bath, dishwasher, stove, microwave, etc. The house begins to acclimate itself with the homeowner’s lifestyle, which usually takes at least a year. The goal is to become an organism that expands/contracts. As new materials are drying and curing, the house can develop some separations, cracks, and settling. Most of this is quite normal but is unsettling for the homeowner.
For those of us living in older homes, we have our own issues that we normally deal with. These issues are mainly hydrostatic pressure and galvanic corrosion within plumbing. Both of these issues are a sign that the house is acclimating itself, but not in a good way. There will be problems down the road.
Matt Cantor has an excellent video on explaining galvanic corrosion and a darn good article regarding hydrostatic pressure. I encourage you to watch the video and read the article (links below).
During my years as a third-party home warranty inspector, I inspected thousands of homes in the Oklahoma City Metro area. I noticed these homeowners did not understand what I’ve been sharing about in this article and did not keep an eye out for water ponding in the yard (sitting in one area for 48 hours or more). Also, many did not exercise due diligence in maintaining the lawn against the foundation. During the summer months, they let the grass die or the ground dry out too much against the foundation – which then does not supply adequate friction against the foundation. Sometimes this area was too wet. There was not enough positive flow away from the foundation and water was going under the slab or flooding the grass out. Without grass, how will you maintain a static moisture content?
Many folks question, “Didn’t my builder give me a good foundation?” Yes, more than likely they did. However, it does take some knowledge, maintenance, and being proactive to keep it in good condition. At the same time, it is hard to maintain what you do not understand. Houses are not a “set it and forget it” proposition.
Houses are a compilation of hundreds of different materials put together by dozens of different trades. Normally, this happens on a piece of land that’s never had such a large, heavy object on it. Don’t get me wrong. I have seen my fair share of cut corners and half-measures by trades, most of the times unaware to the builder.
Coming up with a plan and implementing it takes time. Yes, you can fix the visible stuff: cracked tiles, effervescence (Alkyd salts), peeling paint, cracked caulking, cracked drywall, bowed walls, leaking walls, heaved floors, settling floors, etc. But sometimes you need to work backwards, starting with a healthy land drainage with a healthy building physiology outlook. This takes a game plan, time, monitoring and evaluation, and often the willingness to think outside of the box. We must learn and take action for possibly the largest investment of our lifetime – our home.
TOP DRAWER Residential & Commercial Maintenance can help you assess your home’s current status and help you create and maintain a game plan for that investment. Contact us today!