How Often Should You Check Your Home’s Foundation for Leaks?

The relationship between foundation issues and HVAC efficiency isn’t always immediately obvious. However, most people understand that the airtightness of a house — how effectively it retains heat in winter and cool air in the summer — can have a major impact on the cost of heating and cooling, not to mention the consistency of comfort inside the home.

The condition of the foundation has a connection to structural integrity, which in turn affects HVAC efficiency. Here are a few examples of how that happens:

    • Unstable joints. A shifting foundation may cause joints in the exterior envelope of the house to gradually separate. This, in turn, increases air leakage from the structure. Warm air escapes in winter and hot air infiltrates in summer. Your HVAC system runs longer to maintain temperature settings.
    • Interior sloping. As a cracked or undermined foundation shifts, floors inside the house also settle and slope. Gaps beneath exterior doors may widen, allowing increased loss of conditioned air and infiltration of unconditioned outdoor air, which in turn boosts HVAC operating costs.
    • Ductwork issues. HVAC ductwork is typically attached to the internal structure of the house. If foundation instability causes structural shifting, joints between duct spans may be stressed and eventually separate, releasing heated or cooled air into areas such as the crawl space or attic.

When to Inspect the Foundation

There’s no specific time interval for checking a foundation. However, most contractors agree that there are two occasions when inspection is critical:

    • Before you buy a home. It’s important to know the condition of the foundation before you sign the papers on a home purchase. If unknown issues exist, you may be faced with the unpleasant surprise of high repair costs soon after assuming ownership. In addition, if you have a mortgage, most lenders require a presale foundation inspection.
    • If you notice any warning signs. Act promptly if any of the above HVAC issues are present. Foundation instability is an ongoing process that typically continues to worsen and damage the structure until corrective measures are taken.

Paitson Bros. has served Terre Haute homeowners since 1922. Ask us for more information about the connection between HVAC efficiency and foundation stability.

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