It’s the soil.
If your slab-on-ground concrete foundation sits on heavy clay soils that dry out , then swell up when heavy rains come, the foundation is in danger of movement.
It’s exactly this kind of expanding then shrinking that causes most of the common signs of foundation stress and damage.
A lot of foundation repair companies will tell you that the sticking doors, windows that are hard to open and close, diagonal cracks in the drywall and brick, and sloping floors are signs that you might need foundation leveling.
And the main culprit is the clay soil that swells and shrinks.
We had a classic case of the soils reacting to the weather this past summer in North Texas. Weeks of little or no rain, depending on whether you were lucky enough to be under a stray pop-up thunderstorm or not. (Shrink)
Then along came Tropical Storm Hermine. She dropped 4-6 inches of rain across the area. 4 1/2 inches at my house. The street turned into a river. I watched city provided trash containers and recycling bins float down the street and pile up against parked cars. (Swell)
So what is a home owner supposed to do to protect the foundation against the need for repair?
First, take control of what happens with the rain. Install gutters, keep them clean, and direct the water away from the foundation. Make sure the rain drains off. Don’t let the clay soil around the foundation swell up.
Then use soaker hoses to keep an even layer of moister around the perimeter of the slab during dry periods. Don’t let the clay soil dry up and pull away from the slab. Run the soaker hoses just enough to keep an even layer of moisture. With some trial and error, you’ll learn how often and how long to run them. I’ve written a lot about soaker hoses on this blog and you can find it here.
A lot of foundation repair contractors can also help you with drainage issues and give you guidance on soaker hoses. Spending some money today for preventive measures like that can often save you big bucks for a foundation repair job.