Homeowners can take measures to ensure good performance and prevent problems with their concrete foundations and flatwork. To avoid wall cracking, the builder should have sloped the soil at least 1 inch per lineal foot of run while soil grading around the house was being done. That slope should continue at least 5 feet beyond the foundation or to a well-sloped sidewalk or patio. This makes rain runoff flow away from the house.

Because backfill near the house often settles, low spots appear near the basement wall. Rainwater can collect in the low spots and seep into the soil next to the foundation. Check the area near the house periodically and simply fill in low spots with additional soil, tamping it to prevent settlement of the fill soil. Use gutters and downspouts to keep roof water from falling right next to the house. Add a downspout extension and splash blocks to carry the water at least 5 feet away from the foundation.

Concrete is most vulnerable to surface damage during the winter. To give yourself extra protection, don't apply deicing salts during the first winter. Never use deicing agents that contain ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate.