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Water-Damaged Foundation? What to Look For and How to Fix It

From spring-cleaning inside the house to cleaning gutters outside, you take good care of your home. The concrete slab that supports it doesn’t seem to need much attention.

Foundations are built to last, but they can develop serious problems.

A water-damaged foundation threatens a home’s structural integrity with multiple issues. A flooded basement, cracked walls and water-damaged interiors are just a few examples.

We help homeowners deal with water damage from bad foundations all across Chicago.

Based on our years of experience, we’re sharing strategies and tips for reducing your chances of foundation problems.

Read on.

9 Signs of Water Damage to Your Foundation

foundation water damage leak

The strong substructure that holds up your house is surprisingly porous, and that makes it prone to water damage.

You can usually spot the clues on your home’s exterior and interiors.

Keep an eye out for these nine signs of foundation damage from water.

Exterior Signs of Foundation Water Damage

1. Cracks in substructure walls, bricks and mortar
2. Grey or green mold growing on exterior foundation walls
3. Uneven soil or sinkholes between the slab and adjacent ground
4. Uneven elevation of attached structures, such as sheds and garages

Interior Signs of Foundation Water Damage

5. High humidity, damp walls and floors in the basement
6. Efflorescence or mold growing on basement walls
7. Damp spots on paneling and flooring in finished basements
8. Cracks in upstairs walls, especially around doors and windows
9. Pervasive musty odors and unusual humidity throughout the house

What Causes Foundation Water Damage?

water damaged foundation restoration

The easy answer seems obvious: Water causes water damage to a home’s foundation.

However, there are a variety of situations that result in this type of damage. Soil under and around the slab is also a factor.

In most cases, foundation damage from water is due to one of these problems.

  • Excess Surface Water – Water that collects along the upper edges of a home’s substructure swells the soil, creating pressure that impacts the foundation.
  • Underground Water – Slabs are often damaged by hydrostatic pressure resulting from naturally fluctuating levels in the water table around a home.
  • Soil Erosion – As soil surrounding and supporting the foundation erodes, it causes the slab to shift and become more vulnerable to cracks and leaks.
  • Weather Events – Soil volume increases and decreases during weather events, such as heavy rains and extended drought, and that can result in substructure shifts.
  • Plumbing Problems – Water damage from a faulty plumbing system can seep into a home’s slab, permeate the porous concrete and cause foundation problems.

How to Repair a Water-Damaged Foundation

Repairing a foundation damaged by water isn’t a typical DIY job.

You need to address the situation under your home as well as interior water damage.

These steps outline a solid action plan for solving both problems.

1. Bring in a Foundation Repair Professional

Do an online search for foundation repair professionals in your area.

Check with neighbors and friends for references, and look at independent review sites. You want to bring in someone with proven experience and a solid track record.

Before you make a final decision, ask if the company is insured and provides work warranties.

2. Call Your Homeowners’ Insurance Agent

Once the company assesses the foundation water damage, call your insurance agent.

Give him or her the details, and schedule an adjuster’s inspection.

Take photos of the water-damaged slab as well as pictures of water damages inside the house.

3. Contact a Water Damage Restoration Company

water damage restoration van

Call a water damage restoration company, and explain the situation. Give them the name of the foundation repair company you’re working with.

This helps the restoration team develop a schedule that gets you back into your home as quickly as possible.

If you’re in the Chicago area, call us here at ServiceMaster by Lake Shore: (312) 707-8597.

We do it all, from cleaning up water-damaged basements to restoring interiors upstairs. Our technicians also clean and restore contents and electronics.

4. Prep the House for Foundation Repairs

Foundation repair can be very loud and usually generates significant dust inside a home. You may want to protect furniture, electronics and valuables by covering them with plastic sheeting.

The repair company will give you an estimated schedule for job completion, so think about spending that time with friends or family. Your homeowners insurance may cover the cost of a hotel for the duration of the work.

How to Protect Your Foundation From Water Damage

The substructure underneath your home supports between 40 and 80 tons, but it still needs protection.

Minimize the risk of a water-damaged foundation with these easy preventative strategies.

  • Regularly inspect the foundation for signs of water damage, as noted above.
  • Make sure downspouts empty at least 3 to 5 feet away from the house.
  • Quickly repair leaks in outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems.
  • Keep shrubs and trees trimmed back to prevent roots from damaging the foundation.
  • Routinely check your basement sump pump, and keep it in good working condition.
  • Water the yard during dry spells so that soil shrinkage doesn’t damage the slab.
  • Consider installing French drains or swales to channel water away from the house.

Dealing With a Water Damaged-Foundation in Chicago? We Can Help!

Correcting substructure problems under your home takes time and patience. When foundation damage from water causes water damage inside your home, we’re here to help.

Whether it’s flooding in the basement or water damage upstairs, our teams take care of it.

We’re here for you 24/7 with Chicago’s best professional restoration services. Call us, and let us help you deal with the aftermath of a water-damaged foundation: 312-707-8597


How do I know if a water leak is causing foundation damage?

Note the general location of the slab damage. Follow up by looking for signs of leaks inside walls or the crawlspace. Check basement pipes for drips, and inspect outside pipes and connections.

What type of water-damaged foundation repairs can I expect?

Most foundation repair projects involve stabilizing the substructure with steel, concrete or helical piers. Your foundation professional may also recommend segment piers or high-density polyurethane foam.

Does homeowners insurance cover water damage to my foundation?

In most cases, yes. However, there are exceptions, including negligent maintenance and storm flooding. Speak with your agent, and ask about your coverage details. Our staff can help you with the water damage claims process.