On top of inflation rates and housing demand, the threat of property damage from climate change can increase the costs of home repairs and maintenance. In the United States, the cost of home damage from natural disasters accelerated by climate change is estimated to be $56.92 billion.
With 1 in 10 U.S. residential properties affected by disasters in the last year, it is clear that the climate crisis is devastating and can happen without any warning. It is thus in every homeowner's best interest to understand the financial cost of home damage to better prepare for it.
Spotting signs of home damage
It's important to identify which sections of your home will likely be damaged and thus affect your finances. Here are the telltale signs you should look out for.
Foundations are integral in supporting the weight of your home. Since foundations are typically dug out and built below ground level, the soil surrounding your home must be in top condition. While drought as an extreme weather condition is commonly understood to affect crops, dry soil affects homes and buildings, too. As the soil around your home changes and dries, it shifts the foundation and stresses the concrete.
This forms cracks and gaps in the walls, sticking/jammed doors and windows, and uneven floors—all of which may seem like minor inconveniences but over time may balloon into grave structural and foundation damage. Meanwhile, alignment problems like bowing and buckling walls can be linked to expansive clay soil exerting tremendous pressure on your foundation walls.
Water damage can also be costly if you shrug off the warning signs and allow it to persist. Clogged drains can cause pipes to break down and thus contaminate other parts of your home. Leaving water pressure unregulated and plumbing systems unchecked leads to stains, leaks, mold growth, and rotting in your walls and foundations. If your home also has a finished basement, it is not only plumbing failure but also severe storms that can flood your basement, burst pipes, and damage the water heater.
Drought from severe heat can cause soil to shrink, while heavy rains can trigger soil expansion. Both of these extreme weather conditions affect the soil under your concrete. In some cases, soil is poorly compacted and thus cannot support the concrete slab’s weight regardless of the climate. Concrete failure and weakening can be spotted in chips, cracks, tripping hazards, and uneven levels in your walkways, garage, and other walkable outdoor areas which are made of cement.
Preventing and repairing home damage
Now that we know how climate change and the attendant weather conditions can affect our homes, homeowners carry the duty and responsibility to prevent or reduce the risks of foundation and concrete damage. Soil conservation can help prevent soil erosion and other forms of soil degradation through windbreaks and buffer strips. While commonly associated with agricultural areas, they can also be integrated into residential properties to protect homes from wind, water runoff, and soil erosion. Sustainable methods like planting rows of trees and bushes in designated land areas also serve the dual purpose of environmental conservation and natural beautification.
On the other hand, home construction services can also help in the prevention and repair of home damage. Depending on the type of foundation problem that you have, the options for foundation repair and restoration include the installation of helical or push piers, foundation wall anchor or reinforcement systems, and crawl space leveling solutions. It helps to have an expert conduct a thorough assessment of your foundations to identify what exactly is affecting the structural integrity and stability of your home.
Waterproofing and concrete lifting
Water damage can be prevented through regular maintenance of your plumbing systems so that water does not seep through cracks in the walls or floors. When it comes to waterproofing the crawl space, the solutions range from drainage systems that direct the water away from your home, vapor barriers that prevent moisture and mold growth, and dehumidifiers that are low-maintenance but keep the air in the crawl space dry.
Basement waterproofing systems also involve drainage, sump pumps, and dehumidifiers, but with the addition of insulation, basement flooring, and flood protection rings. Lastly, concrete replacement is usually done with high costs, but foam lifting can be an affordable alternative to better protect your home’s structural integrity and stability. It also has a quick installation process compared to the multistage removal and replacement of concrete.
It takes a lot of effort to keep your home running like a well-oiled machine with functioning parts, so be consistent with home inspections, especially after an extreme weather event or during seasonal changes. Moreover, beware of predatory home contractors who may take advantage of your situation.
Vesta Foundation Solutions is an Oklahoma-based company that restores and repairs homes through experienced professionals; free, no-obligation estimates are also provided.