The vast majority of foundation issues are a direct result of water. It can be too much water, too little water, or even the fluctuation between the two. When your foundation was first poured, the moisture level across the lot was fairly consistent. In some cases, contractors even watered down the soil a day or so before the foundation was poured to create that consistency. Had the soil under and around your home maintained an equal moisture content throughout its life, it is doubtful that there would be a reason for you to be reading this now.
PLUMBING LEAKS (another water issue):
When there is a leak around or under the house, whether it’s in the freshwater line(s) or the sewer line, the leak adds moisture to the soil around and under the foundation, causing the soil to expand and shift. For the foundation built on this soil, you might be looking at some bad news. If the leak is slight, you might not even notice it, even if it’s in the freshwater lines. Your water bill might be somewhat higher, but it might not be high enough to cause warning bells to go off in your head. However, if the leak is in the sewer line, it’s even more hidden since such a leak wouldn’t result in a higher sewer or water bill and you might not notice until it’s too late. If you have the typical signs of foundation problems, like stuck doors and windows, cracks in your walls, cracks in your ceiling, loose or “popping” floor tiles, then you should contact A-Plus Foundation Repair Company to check into the problem.
Expansive soils that contain minerals of certain clays are able to absorb water. When they take in that water they swell. The more water the clay absorbs, the bigger it gets. Expanding ten percent or more is not uncommon. This major change in volume can push enough force on a building or other structure to cause serious damage. Think about it, it rains hard, the water soaks in and causes the clay to swell, and your foundation rises. Then it gets hot—Dallas hot. The soil dries out and contracts, and the foundation settles. Each time it swells and settles, it settles a little more. Over time, this can cause severe damage to the foundation. Living in the home, you probably don’t even notice it until you see the first crack, either inside, in your brick outside, or in the foundation itself.
There are three Musts for proper foundation maintenance:
- Rain Gutters
- Foundation Irrigation
If you don’t have them, get them. Make sure that the downspouts deliver water 3 to 4 feet from your foundation and that the slope of your yard continues the flow away from home. Don’t let water pool against or close to your foundation! If you need rain gutters, call A-1 Aluminum in Irving, TX and tell them that A-Plus Foundation Repair Company referred you. OR, call us and we will set you up with a free assessment.
When you walk around your home, you should see 4 to 6 inches of your foundation above the ground. A good rule of thumb is that if you see 6″ or more of foundation, backfill it with topsoil to 4 inches. If you do this in the early spring before the grass starts growing, it will fill in with grass as soon as the growing season starts.
This helps the ground slope away from your foundation. In no circumstance should you allow water to pool around your home. If your yard is flat, you should install a drain system to take heavy rainwater away from your home, and off of your property. Don’t send your water to your neighbor, route it to the street or alley where it will find its way to the sewer system. A-Plus Foundation Repair Company installs all types of drain systems from French to surface box type.
Once you rid yourself of “big water” problems, you need to make sure that the soil around the home is consistently moist. The best way to do that is to use soaker hoses. You may have been told that soaker hoses should be about a foot out from your foundation, not right up against it. Generally, that’s true. BUT, if you are one of the people that won’t use them because you don’t like moving them every time you cut the grass, it’s better to use them up against the foundation than not at all. We’re trying to be practical here.
Soaker hoses connected to your outdoor faucets will do, but there are companies (like A-Plus Foundation Repair Company, for example), that will bury them around your foundation in a bed of gravel, and then put them on one of your sprinkler zones or on a separate timer. The secret is to cover the entire perimeter and use timers. By doing this you don’t miss a day (or a month, before you remember) or over water.
Hardware stores like Home Depot or Lowes sell soaker hoses. If you don’t want or don’t have a sprinkler system zone available, they also sell single and double channel watering timers. A-Plus recommends Melnor soft soaker hoses. They come 25, 50, and 75-foot lengths. For timers, Melnor and Orbit are both good brands. Use them throughout the year, but remember to shut them off and take the timers inside during the freezing periods.
The soil around your foundation needs to be evenly moist and snug up against the concrete. If you are starting up a watering plan, run them every day for about 30 minutes for the first 2 weeks. Then back them off to about 30 minutes, twice a week.
Here’s another way of gauging how much you should water:
If you see that the ground is always moist and there begins to be a little green mold where the soil meets the foundation, you might be overwatering. Make it 25 minutes twice a week, then 20 minutes, etc. If you see a wide crack between the soil and your foundation, you might be underwatering. Make it 35 minutes twice a week, and so on. Get the idea?
Generally, you want one of two systems: buried or surface. Buried systems are excellent, but tend to be expensive. They can cost as much as $3,000, or possibly more if you need an additional timer system. The easiest, most reliable and inexpensive system is the one described above with portable timers and soft soaker hoses. The average home can be covered for between $125 and $200. Although, you might have to replace a $25 or $35 soft hose every couple of years due to the Texas heat or a $35 Timer because you left it out overnight in December, and it froze and broke.
I use surface soaker hoses. The key is to use one of them and make it a religion. It’s protecting your most valuable investment, after all. A-Plus will put you in contact with a reputable sprinkler company for a buried system. OR if you just can’t figure out how to put together and install a surface system, for an additional labor charge, A-Plus will buy the materials, install them for you, and bill you with your foundation repair.
If the damage is already done or if you just want to see how all of this applies to your home, call A-Plus Foundation Repair Company. We’d be happy to make an appointment for a free assessment of your foundation and give you our recommendation. Our prices are competitive, and estimates are provided at no charge.