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bleach333

Soft ground around foundation

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Hey guys,

So I was looking at a house that had two visible problems and wanted to see what you guys thought. The first was leaking AC unit that has been leaking for quite some time because the ground around is very soggy and gives in quitr a bit. It's right next to the foundation (crawl space) so wanted to see if this moisture could have damaged the foundation if it's been this way for a while.

The other issue I found is that pretty much all the ground within 1 foo1 of the house is very soft and basically sinks when you stand on it, it gives about an inch when you stand on it. What would cause this and how concerning is this? Thanks again.

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Need more info - age of the house, grading of the yard, soil type, natural drainage, on a slope or down in a gully?

Basement, crawlspace or slab?

Were you standing in a flower bed?

See what I mean?

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Hey guys,

So I was looking at a house that had two visible problems and wanted to see what you guys thought. The first was leaking AC unit that has been leaking for quite some time because the ground around is very soggy and gives in quitr a bit. It's right next to the foundation (crawl space) so wanted to see if this moisture could have damaged the foundation if it's been this way for a while.

Did you see any damage?

The other issue I found is that pretty much all the ground within 1 foo1 of the house is very soft and basically sinks when you stand on it, it gives about an inch when you stand on it. What would cause this and how concerning is this? Thanks again.

There can be a lot of reasons for that. Maybe someone added more soil in the last several years and mother nature hasn't had a chance to compact it yet. Some pictures would help. One establishing shot then several localized shots.

Marc

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Need more info - age of the house, grading of the yard, soil type, natural drainage, on a slope or down in a gully?

Basement, crawlspace or slab?

Were you standing in a flower bed?

See what I mean?

House constructed in 1979. It's on a flat lot with standard grading on a crawl space. No flower bed.

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Hey guys,

So I was looking at a house that had two visible problems and wanted to see what you guys thought. The first was leaking AC unit that has been leaking for quite some time because the ground around is very soggy and gives in quitr a bit. It's right next to the foundation (crawl space) so wanted to see if this moisture could have damaged the foundation if it's been this way for a while.

Did you see any damage?

The other issue I found is that pretty much all the ground within 1 foo1 of the house is very soft and basically sinks when you stand on it, it gives about an inch when you stand on it. What would cause this and how concerning is this? Thanks again.

There can be a lot of reasons for that. Maybe someone added more soil in the last several years and mother nature hasn't had a chance to compact it yet. Some pictures would help. One establishing shot then several localized shots.

Marc

I did not see any damage but the bricks were definitely wet on the outside from the moisture. I will try to get some pics tomorrow.

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Leaking AC unit? What is it leaking? Is it possible it's defrosting in heating mode and that's what you're seeing?

Yeah, that's possible, it's an HVAC unit and there was a lot of water around it so I'm not sure that the defrost would generate that much water, but I don't know.

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There shouldn't be any water from your outside condensing unit. "Defrost" usually happens in on the evaporator coil, but even that's not right as there shouldn't be any ice on the coil to "defrost" unless you have other serious issues.

Making a WAG because we have no good descriptions yet....but I'm guessing drainage around the house is lousy. The crawlspace is probably wet. It could be, and probably is, something very simple. Wet dirt is squishy in most places. You got wet dirt.

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Hey guys,

So I was looking at a house that had two visible problems and wanted to see what you guys thought. The first was leaking AC unit that has been leaking for quite some time because the ground around is very soggy and gives in quitr a bit. It's right next to the foundation (crawl space) so wanted to see if this moisture could have damaged the foundation if it's been this way for a while.

The other issue I found is that pretty much all the ground within 1 foo1 of the house is very soft and basically sinks when you stand on it, it gives about an inch when you stand on it. What would cause this and how concerning is this? Thanks again.

Are you a home inspector or a person looking at the house for some other reason?

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Sounds like you have a foundation where they didn't compact the backfill around the foundation. Once they dig that hole, place the foundation, strip the forms and get their drainage media and piping in, they have to backfill around the foundation.

The smart contractor does it in "lifts" - 6 to 12 inches at a time - using a compacting machine. Then, when he reaches grade level, which should be no less than about four to six inches below the bottom of the exterior cladding, he adds another inch or so, just in the backfilled area and out to a distance of about six feet from the foundation, 'cuz he know there might still be a little bit of settlement over the next couple of years that will eventually flatten out that area next to the foundation.

At that point, depending on where one is in the country the grading around that house needs to slope away from the foundation for at least 1/2-inch (around here) to up to an inch per foot (where I used to live in NY state) away from the foundation for at least the first six feet from the foundation walls.

Some builders don't pay much attention to this detail, or homeowners decide they want to plant around the foundation and they start digging up the ground close to the foundation and putting in shrubs. Sometimes those homeowners, not knowing any better, end up taking a perfectly graded yard and causing it to drain the wrong way. Sometimes they leave the ground around the foundation with a negative grade that drains toward the foundation or flat with no ground sloping away and essentially flat. With those, within a few years the ground near the foundation ends up compacting naturally and they end up low spot right next to the foundation that captures and holds water. If water is gathered next to the foundation wall it'll often find a way into a crawlspace or basement.

It sounds like that's what you've got going on there. It could be something else though. If you have in-ground downspout receivers the pipe connecting those receivers could be a perf pipe versus a non-perf pipe (Don't laugh, it's done more often than you'd think), there might be downspouts emptying directly onto ground adjacent to the basement wall, there might be a gutter over the squishy area that's got a clogged downspout and is full of water and sagging in the center; and every time it rains it dumps hundreds of gallons of water right next to the house. It could be a footing drain below grade that was never protected against becoming clogged with fine particles and it's causing the ground around the foundation to become waterlogged. You need to walk around that house, imagine you were water and figure out how you'd end up staying next to that foundation.

Check the basement, if you have one, for signs of water intrusion. If you've got a crawlspace, get down there and check the perimeter to see if any water is surfacing under the home. If things are dry, you probably only need to adjust your grading. Scrape away any mulch out to a distance of about ten feet from the foundation to look at how the hardpan under the mulch is graded. If the ground slopes consistently away for at least six feet; and the only place water is accumulating is immediately next to the foundation, you might have to bring in some cleaned fill mixed with topsoil - distribute it uniformly around the foundation, flatten it out, grade it properly and then use a drum roller to compact it. Aerate the soil and then hydro-seed it and wait for next spring to see what it looks like.

Note: You'll probably have to raise that AC compressor and add another inch or two over what I've already described so that can settle naturally, 'cuz you won't be able to get a roller or compactor beneath the compressor. Well, disregard that, you can if you want to pay an HVAC tech to drain the system and disconnect it, so you can temporarily move it, work the grading, and then, once the grading it fixed, pay him to come back, reconnect everything and charge the system.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

P.S.

Hey! Yahoos! I'm bAAAAaaaack!

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There shouldn't be any water from your outside condensing unit. "Defrost" usually happens in on the evaporator coil, but even that's not right as there shouldn't be any ice on the coil to "defrost" unless you have other serious issues.

Making a WAG because we have no good descriptions yet....but I'm guessing drainage around the house is lousy. The crawlspace is probably wet. It could be, and probably is, something very simple. Wet dirt is squishy in most places. You got wet dirt.

Heat pump in heating mode effectively moves the evaporator coil to outdoors (via reversing valve) so if the unit is heating and cold ambient, there will be water at the outdoor coil.

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Yes, thank you, the OP said it was an AC unit.

Yeah, but he also said that the AC was "leaking," which means that he's either a really dumb home inspector or a non-inspector who doesn't understand the first thing about air conditioners. Either way, and based on his descriptions so far, we can't rely on a word that he's said. It might be an AC unit, a heat pump, or a crate full of hammers.

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Well yes, and thank you also, but it was just a WAG in the first place, I thought I might suggest it could be a heat pump in the second place, but thought I'd make a simple guess that had nothing to do with the unlikely possibility that any of it was related to a "leaking" condenser in the third place.

The OP clearly doesn't know what they're looking at, so pointing out a likely, and probably the most likely, possibility.....seemed reasonable. Apparently not.

"Making a WAG because we have no good descriptions yet."...... (I can explain what that sentence means if anyone is unclear on it......)

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