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:
“Foundation Problems Don’t Wash Away With Rain, Says Perma-Pier. Texas-based company discusses the impact of the wet-dry cycle on soil and home.”
That’s why it’s important to keep and even layer of moisture around the foundation. Proper drainage is also important. You want rain water draining away from the foundation and not ponding.
This video talks about proper drainage around a typical house foundation in very simple terms. Very. Simple. Terms.
So if you can keep even moisture in the soil around your slab foundation and make sure that excess water drains away. Who knows? Maybe you can avoid the cost of foundation repair.
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.
With the cost of foundation repair in mind, Roy called three foundation repair companies for bids.
The foundation companies all suggested piers for the front and both sides of the house.The company Roy picked uses pushed concrete piers, a very common foundation repair method in Texas.
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.
Then the waiting begins to see if the water level drops. If it does, Read More…
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 Read More…
I was looking at a map from the US National Weather Service that showed almost a third of the country in drought conditions that range from “excessively dry” to “exceptional drought.” Not good.
And to make matters worse, many areas included in the drought also have homes built on shrink/swell heavy clay soils. That means when the soils dry out, house foundations start moving, usually dropping.
Things the homeowner will start to notice are cracks in the sheet rock inside and in brick veneers outside. Doors and windows that don’t work the way they used to and are supposed to, and in the worst cases, floors starting to slope.
It’s happening again at my house too.
Extended dry conditions like this provide plenty of work for foundation repair companies, but what about the homeowner?