Insurance and Finance

Reading Between the Lines

By Lisa Martin 6.8.15

With most foundation repairs ranging between $3,000 and $7,500 per occurrence, Texas homeowners have a vested interest in babying their slab, in summer especially.

“Typically for any type of foundation damage, there is really not any coverage on a home insurance contract, almost all of which cover only damage due to ‘named perils,’” says Paxton Hurst, a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance agency manager in Denton. Such perils include a windstorm, hurricane, hail, fire, and lightning, among others. “It doesn’t cover normal settlement or cracking,” he says. “What typically causes those things is fluctuation in the soil.”

Blame Texas’ notorious clay soil for a lot of that strife. The tendency of this elastic type of soil to expand and contract allows the slab to move, which can lead to structural stress and damage. In summertime, hydrate the ground around the foundation with a soaker hose at least once a week to ward against such shifting and sinking. Paxton recommends placing the hose about a foot from the foundation to help keep moisture at a constant level. Meanwhile, check inside your home for cracks as well as other early warning signs, including doors and cabinets that start sticking.

According to the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute, many hairline cracks in drywall result from concrete curing or minor structural settling. That’s all normal and no cause to panic.

If, however, you see evidence that your home has separated from its foundation, you might just have a serious issue on your hands. Other red flags indicating either foundation problems or a ruptured pipe include uneven floors; fractures in the home’s brick siding; bubbling, peeling, or staining of wallpaper; walls separating from the house; or leaks in a relatively new roof. Call an inspector right away if you notice any of these issues, which could have serious consequences to your house regardless of their root cause.

Sources: 
Insurance Information Institute, www.iii.org
Paxton Hurst, TFBI agency manager, Denton, [email protected], 940-387-8572