What is a Slab Foundation? - 7 Facts Homeowners Should Know

December 2, 2022

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If it's time for slab foundation repair, you don't want to put off calling your contractor. The longer you ignore cracks and leaks, the worse they become. Additionally, cracked foundations often lead to wall and floor cracks, water damage, mold, and other costly issues.

So that you can more easily discuss your property with a repair contractor, check out some facts about slab foundations. Also, you might note some signs of foundation damage and why repairs are so vital. You can keep your property tip-top shape from the ground up!

What is a Slab Foundation?

A slab foundation is a type of foundation typically used for buildings or structures that require a flat and level surface. It consists of a solid concrete slab poured directly onto the ground and acts as the base for the structure it supports. Slab foundations are suited for relatively dry climates where there is little soil movement, as it does not account for this movement. Slab foundations can also be used in areas with expansive soils, though extra precautions must be taken to account for soil movement.

Slab foundation construction often involves pouring concrete over a layer of gravel and reinforcing rods or mesh to add strength and reduce cracking. Once the concrete is cured, it forms a solid base that won’t move and won’t be affected by changes in the soil or groundwater. Slab foundations do make access to plumbing and wiring more difficult as they are all located under the slab and do not require any digging. The main drawback of a slab foundation is that it can be more expensive than some other types of foundations due to the extra materials and labor required. Additionally, because of their style of construction, slab foundations are more prone to cracking and settling than other foundation types.

Overall, slab foundations are a popular choice in many parts of the world due to their affordability and simplicity.

1. Slab foundations sit directly on the ground

A slab foundation sits directly on the ground, meaning you have no entryway steps to worry about! Having one-story slab homes in your neighborhood also means less obstruction of the horizon. Also, slabs are easy to pour for contractors, meaning faster and more affordable construction.

However, sitting on the ground also means slabs risk absorbing moisture quickly. Foundation contractors often tell you that moisture is the number one enemy of concrete! In turn, property owners must maintain that foundation properly. This includes regular inspections for developing damage.

what is a slab foundation

2. Slab foundations are durable if they're thick enough

Proper depth is vital for slab foundations. If a contractor pours the concrete too thin, this risks soil settlement and cracking. Lean concrete also cannot hold up the weight of a home which often means heat loss. If you're considering new construction or looking to buy a slab home, ensure you check the concrete depth.

Also, it would be best if you worked with an experienced, reliable contractor for all slab construction and repair. A contractor who "cuts corners" might not use enough concrete to create the slab, risking premature damage.

3. Concrete slab foundations risk flood damage

Sitting on the ground puts slab foundations at risk for flood damage. Consequently, property owners might invest in a sump pump for their property's exterior. Also, a French drain installation protects against excess moisture in the soil. Your foundation waterproofing contractor can also suggest solutions for protecting a slab against flooding damage.

4. Afraid of pests? Get a slab foundation!

Note that a slab foundation doesn't offer room below a structure like a pier, beam, or basement foundation. In turn, slabs typically mean less risk of pest infestation. Pests are not just bothersome, as they also risk damage. For example, termites and carpenter ants eat through the wood, while rodents damage electrical wiring. On the other hand, slab foundations can reduce those risks.

5. Foundation damage shows up around your house

One downside to slabs is that you can't see them the way you can see basement walls or piers and beams. However, this doesn't mean it's impossible to note signs of damage! Any of the following around your home and property can indicate damage and needed slab foundation repair:

  • Interior and exterior wall cracks
  • Interior ceiling cracks
  • Crumbling chimney brick
  • Uneven floors and loose floor tiles
  • Rough door and window frames
  • Doors and windows that suddenly stick
  • Sudden trouble locking doors and windows securely
  • Water damage, including moisture along baseboards and drywall

slab foundation repair

6. Never put off slab foundation repair

Just because you can't see a slab foundation doesn't mean you should avoid needed repairs! Remember that a foundation holds up the weight of a building. Once it weakens, that structure can sink, often settling along one side or the other. This process means more pulling on solid surfaces, including walls, floors, the roof, etc.

This settling and pull process means more cracks along walls and ceilings. It can also lead to roof damage, plumbing damage, and other costly fixes. To avoid these issues, regular schedule inspections and timely repairs when needed.

7. Slab foundation repair is well worth the cost!

Some property owners still put off repairs, even knowing the risk of foundation damage. One reason is that they're afraid of the cost. They might reason that they can live with wall and ceiling cracks.

However, property owners should remember that slab foundation repair is always worth the cost. Not only do you risk the secondary damage mentioned above, but a damaged foundation often affects property values. Those cracks and leaks also risk dangerous, damaging mold along walls and mildew under carpeting. Additionally, moisture leaking into a home can mean framing wood rot, cracks, and other issues.

Lastly, note that slab foundation repair isn't always as expensive as you might assume. In many cases, homeowners might only spend a few thousand dollars for underpinning, leveling, or leak repair. Also, most contractors guarantee those repairs for decades! In turn, you'll avoid secondary damage and protect your property's value for as long as you own it.

Yes, slab foundations can have problems. The most common issues arise from moisture issues or shifting soil. Moisture can cause many problems with a slab foundation because it can cause the concrete to expand and contract, leading to cracks and settling. Furthermore, excessive moisture can lead to mold and mildew, which is both unsightly and a hazard to the health of occupants. Shifting soil can also be an issue, as it can cause the slab foundation to settle or move, leading to cracks and other damage. Lastly, there is always the potential for poor installation or improper construction, which can lead to foundational issues. Therefore, ensuring that your foundation is appropriately inspected and maintained is essential. Ultimately, slab foundations can have problems, but proper maintenance can be a reliable and long-lasting solution to your building or home's foundation needs.

How Long Will a Slab Foundation Last?

High-quality slab foundations should last some 75 to 80 years or more. However, they need proper maintenance over the years. For instance, poor grading and drainage often mean water buildup around the foundation. Water buildup risks cracks and leaks around that slab.

Also, property owners should avoid putting added weight on the foundation without checking its durability first. That means not adding another story, outdoor deck, sunroom, or stone floors without a structural inspection. Too much weight risks cracks that let in more moisture! Your engineer can offer suggestions for strengthening the foundation before construction.

Bowling Green Foundation Repair & Waterproofing is happy to provide our readers with this information about slab foundation repair. Hopefully, you found it helpful. If you Call our Bowling Green foundation repair contractors, you're in the area and need expert services; we'll schedule a FREE inspection and price quote at your earliest convenience. To find out more, use our contact form or call us.

 

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