I heard an ad on the radio the other day for something called “foundation shield” and wondered what that could possibly be. Not being very smart, yet imaginative, I pictured armor or maybe some sort of force field around a home foundation.
It turns out to be an industrial strength soaker hose system to keep a good layer of moisture around the perimeter of your concrete slab and hopefully avoid expensive foundation repair.
The reason most of us who live in areas with heavy clay soils have foundation problems is the shrink-swell nature of the dirt our houses are built on. When we have a lot of rain, our clay soils swell absorbing the water like a sponge. Then when dry weather hits, the soils give up that water and shrink. All this swelling and shrinking of the ground our houses are built on is hard on concrete slab foundations.
So one of the tools we homeowners can use to create an even layer of moisture around the slab is the use of soaker hoses. Soaker hoses dribble water out slowly along it’s length and over a few days can help stabilize the amount of moisture around the foundation. And “Foundation Shield” takes soaker hoses to the next level.
Instead of the traditional above ground rubber soaker hose made of recycled tires that most of us use, the “foundation shield” is a system that goes just below the ground and is made of entirely different materials.
A local company who installs this system uses lengths of Rainbird XFS subsurface drip line all around the foundation just below the surface of the soil. It’s a much more sophisticated system than your generic soaker hoses. Since it is installed just below ground level, there has be ways to keep grit and roots from clogging things up. That’s where emitters, pressure regulators, filters, water valves, air vacuum relief valves and such come into play.
If you watch the video below you’ll see that the systems is really designed for efficient drip irrigation of landscaping or gardens. But it’s a no-brainer to see how the system could be easily adapted to provide that even layer of moisture around the perimeter of a foundation that helps protect it from the shrink-swell effects of weather.
If this drip system is something you’d like more information on just visit the Rain Bird website. DIYers can buy the parts. They can also hook you up with a contractor in your area.
This humble blog about foundation repair from the home owners point of view is written from a region is the U.S. where we have wide areas and tens of thousands of homes with slab foundations built on heavy clay soils.
The trouble with clay dirt is that it expands when it gets wet and shrinks when it gets dry. And that means the soils our houses sit on are swelling and shrinking depending on the weather. Cycles of rain and then dry periods.
That’s why it’s important to keep and even layer of moisture around the foundation. An affordable way to do that is with soaker hoses. Proper drainage is also important.
The Perma Pier people have a good article on weather and foundations:
Earlier this year one of my neighbors (Roy) had foundation repair done on his concrete slab. The hot dry summer drought had done its damage and resulted in some of the classic signs of foundation movement.
You could see separation of the brick veneer away from the window frames in the front of the house and by the garage door. There was a big diagonal crack (half inch or so) in one of the sheet rock walls in a small office inside the garage area. Similar cracks had developed inside the house proper.
When my foundation repair consultant, Richard Nash, suggested I have a plumber out to check for a slab leak, he made one criteria clear.
“Have them wait at least two hours to see if the water level drops.”
Here is what he meant. A lot of the slab leaks in houses built in the 1970s as mine was occur in the out-going or sewer lines. And that is because the cast iron pipes used under the concrete slab foundations are starting to fail.
The plumbers come in and pull up one of the toilets and set it aside. Then they basically plug up the sewer lines and run water from faucets until they can see water backing up into the line where the toilet was. They let the water come up to just below the floor tile then shut it off.
“I don’t think you need piers. Maybe a few. But I do think you have a slab leak.”
That’s what foundation consultant Richard Rash told me in November. I had run across Mr. Rash’s website while researching foundation repair companies in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
After being in the foundation repair business for 30 years in the Dallas area Richard retired and formed a new business, that of a consultant who goes to bat for the homeowner. In the course of all those years of putting piers under house foundations then having to go back now and then to a job where the slab kept moving despite the underpinning, he figures he knows a lot about what actually goes on with the typical residential foundation in North Texas.
The cost of foundation repair DFW and most other places is based on the price of each pier times the number of piers needed. The average cost of a pier in the Dallas area Continue reading →