Anyone who watched Caddyshack knows just how much damage a gopher can cause to a golf course.
However, can a gopher also cause damage to your foundation?
Knowing the cause of foundation issues can help you resolve the problem before the extensive repairs get even more costly.
However, should you blame your cute underground neighbors for your foundation damage or look at other possible culprits?
We will cover everything you need to know about gophers and how they can damage your foundation.
Can Gophers Damage Foundation?
Unfortunately, yes gophers can damage your home’s foundation.
Gophers love to dig.
They perform most of their favorite activity underground, and they can unknowingly cause damage to your foundation if they dig too close to your home.
The holes gophers live in can cause the soil underneath your foundation to change considerably, leading to damage.
Gophers can also cause damage to pipes, causing water damage.
With that being said, numerous other possible causes can also contribute to foundation damage.
The more you know, the better you can diagnose and resolve the problem.
What Is Your Home’s Foundation?
Your home’s foundation provides the undermost strength that supports the immense weight of your house.
There are three types of foundation:
- Concrete slabs
- Crawl space
The foundation is put in place to prevent rodents from entering, but while quite effective, no foundation is perfect.
Foundations can become vulnerable to changes underground, including gopher holes.
Gophers In The United States
Gophers live throughout the United States, but especially in the Midwest.
They remain active all day long and throughout the entire year, but they don’t pop up above ground very often.
Gophers live in underground holes for protection from predators and the elements.
Feeding holes can get one foot deep and nesting holes can get up to six feet deep.
Since gophers can’t see or hear very well, they rely on their sense of touch to navigate the world and find food to satisfy their 100% herbivorous diet.
You can identify gophers from their large cheeks, buck teeth, flat stomachs, and brown coat that helps them blend into their surroundings.
Gophers only live five years maximum.
However, they can cause quite a bit of damage in their short time on Earth.
How Gophers Damage Foundation
Gophers may create homes that get too close to yours.
When they do, they can wreak havoc on your foundation in numerous ways.
When gophers dig underneath your foundation, it can cause the foundation to crack due to uneven weight distribution.
Once the concrete cracks, water and moisture can enter the material.
While concrete holds up well, the water will eventually cause cracks to grow.
The weakened concrete will break down, and water will get inside the home.
In some cases, gophers enter your home through plumbing if they eat through the pipes.
During the process, they will damage the pipes, leading to leaks or burst pipes that lead to more water damage inside your house.
You may start to notice water stains on the walls or the ceilings of your home.
It will also create plumbing problems in your home, and you may not even get water to keep your home sanitary.
Any electrical wires underground can fall victim to the gopher’s destruction as well, possibly even creating a fire hazard.
Signs Of Foundation Damage
How do you know if you have foundation damage?
Spotting gophers in the yard is a good indication that foundation issues will happen soon if they haven’t already.
However, you need to know the signs of foundation damage to learn more about whether you already have damage or not.
Cracks In Foundation
Cracks in the foundation indicate that it experiences excessive levels of stress.
The stress can easily come from uneven weight distribution underneath the house, caused by holes beneath the foundation.
The cracks can also occur due to water damage.
If water gets into small cracks, the small cracks will turn into large cracks more quickly.
Larger cracks indicate larger problems.
Small cracks may be fixed at home by an amateur DIYer.
However, larger cracks require the help of a professional.
Some homeowners walk into their homes and feel as if the floors are uneven.
This might not be an illusion.
In some cases, the house may truly be sinking, especially if one side of the foundation suddenly loses support underneath it.
Once again, this can happen when holes underneath the foundation cause an uneven amount of support.
As the foundation sinks, it will become more and more noticeable until it makes your house unappealing.
It can also cause some damage to the rest of your house due to the uneven floors.
Foundation upheaval is the opposite of the foundation sinking.
Instead of sinking, the foundation starts to push upward.
This mostly happens with slab foundations due to excessive moisture levels that force the ground underneath the foundation to change.
Not only does this look bad, but the problem will continue until you take action.
Doors Won’t Shut
If the foundation has problems, the doors, especially exterior doors, won’t shut as perfectly as before.
You may notice that you have to struggle to open and shut them.
In fact, they may not shut at all if the foundation has changed the width of the frame.
Signs Of Gophers On Your Property
If you suspect gopher damage, the first step is to look for signs that gophers are truly your culprit.
The main symptoms of gopher damage to your foundation include the following:
- Gopher Holes
- Plant Damage
- Irrigation Loss
The most obvious sign that you have gophers nearby are gopher holes in your yard and gopher sightings.
The holes are easily spotted above ground, you should be able to recognize them quite quickly.
While gophers tend to live alone outside of the mating season, they will make several holes for different needs.
Be mindful that gopher holes and mole holes look similar but have one main distinction: shape.
Gopher holes are crescent-shaped and uneven, while mole holes are cone-shaped and even.
Gophers only eat plants.
Gophers may nibble on your plants, leaving obvious bite marks and a mess behind.
They may even get into a nearby tree’s roots, which can cause additional damage to the plants, killing them and preventing them from growing back.
Underground tunnel systems created by the gophers will leave extra drainage space underneath the topsoil on your land.
This affects the entire irrigation of your property, which can devastate a harvest or a small garden.
It can also make the soil weak and prevent the soil from properly supporting the foundation as normal.
Gophers create high moisture levels in several ways, including damaging pipes and urination.
If gophers eat through pipes, they will create water damage.
This water damage can affect the foundation of your home, and it can affect the items in your home, including the appliances, furniture, and flooring.
When gophers live close to you, they will relieve themselves in the soil.
Unfortunately, this moisture can make the soil much softer.
If the urine gets into the materials of your home, it will make them weak.
Furthermore, the smell can get into your home.
Additional Damage Caused By Gophers
Gophers won’t only damage the foundation of your home.
They can create multiple other problems, too.
Gophers may chew on wires around the home, including cable wires and any other electrical wiring found underneath your home.
Not only can this cause problems when it comes to plugging in your electronic items and watching television, but this can also provide a serious fire hazard.
You spend a lot of time making your yard look presentable.
When gophers move in, they start to dig up your land and destroy all of your hard work, making the yard appear unattractive thanks to the holes.
The gophers can also destroy your plants.
If gophers dig around plants, it can make their roots vulnerable.
The gophers can even eat the roots themselves.
Gophers carry diseases.
If you do have gophers in your home, you need to avoid contact with them as much as possible.
Otherwise, the gopher can bite and pass a disease to you.
They can also pass disease through their waste if it gets into your home’s drinking water.
Some of the common diseases carried by gophers include:
How To Get Rid Of Gophers
If you have gophers, you need to take immediate action to get rid of them before they create even more repair bills.
To flood the gophers out, you will pour water into their holes.
Gophers don’t drown.
The rush of water merely forces the gophers away to dig a hole somewhere far away from your yard.
This must be done by a professional to ensure that you don’t end up causing water damage to your home by flooding holes that will connect to your house.
You also need to be careful that you don’t flood anyone else’s property.
Traps capture gophers.
While effective, this method is not always cruelty-free.
Look for no-kill products if possible.
In most cases, people don’t use traps unless they try flooding first, and it doesn’t succeed.
Trapping should also be done by a professional to eliminate safety concerns.
When placing traps, they need to go into active gopher holes at the bottom of the hole.
You can tell that a hole is active if it has any visible signs of activity or change over a couple of days.
When all other methods fail, some pest removal services may ask to use carbon monoxide to poison the gophers if they don’t escape fast enough.
This is definitely the most effective method, but it’s never a good idea to work with dangerous gas if you have alternative options.
This should only be done by professionals with no exceptions.
Gophers don’t have a great sense of smell, but they can pick up on different scents.
They don’t usually like strong scents, so many people use plants and other items from around the house to help repel gophers from the area.
Some of the best scents to spray in the affected area include the following:
- Peppermint oil
- Coffee grounds
- Hot sauce
Anyone can use this method, but it works best as a supplemental addition to a larger plan.
They may not provide a strong enough deterrent for use as a complete gopher removal solution.
Other Common Causes Of Foundation Damage
Whether gophers have a part to play in the foundation damage or not, it can behoove you to know the other possible causes of foundation damage to tackle any other foundation problems at the same time.
Temperature changes can put a lot of stress on a property.
If you experience extremely high temperatures, it can dry out the soil.
If you get a particularly wet spring or winter, it can add too much moisture to the soil.
When the structure of the soil changes so suddenly, the foundation may not adjust properly.
Water that gets into your home needs a proper way to escape through an adequate drainage system powered by gravity.
Unfortunately, many homes don’t provide adequate drainage.
Water can get into your home in a number of ways, including gopher infestation.
Other ways water gets into the home include:
- Cracks in foundation
- Plumbing leaks
- Insufficient waterproofing
Change In Consistency Of Soil
When something causes the soil underneath the foundation to change suddenly, the foundation must adjust quickly.
However, that’s not always possible.
While trying to settle, the foundation may end up damaged.
Some of the most common causes of a change in the consistency of the soil include drought, excessive moisture, and change in chemical composition.
You will notice that you need foundation repairs when you start to notice cracks in the wall, or you start to feel like the house is uneven or sinking.
When you notice these initial warning signs, you need to take action immediately before the problem gets worse and repair costs get even more expensive.
Costs Of Foundation Repairs
Inevitably, any necessary foundation repairs will cost a significant amount of money.
The cost depends on the extent and type of the damage.
Average costs of foundation repairs are as follows:
- Foundation crack repairs = $250–$800
- Foundation leak repairs = $2,000–$7,000
- Mudjacking = $500–$1,300
- Underpinning = $1,000–$3,000
- Foundation sealing = $2,000–$7,000
To minimize foundation damage, you need to handle the problem as quickly as possible.
The longer a foundation problem is left unattended, the more expensive the repairs will be.
Final Thoughts On Gophers And Foundation Repairs
Gophers can indeed cause damage to your foundation when they burrow their homes and storage holes near your home.
If you notice gopher holes, you will need to take action to remove the gophers safely.
Most commonly, pest control experts use flooding or traps to force gophers to leave the premises.
Of course, if you notice cracks or other signs of foundation damage, it could have other causes as well.
When you notice foundation damage, consult with an expert to properly diagnose the cause and resolve it.