Using soaker hoses around concrete slab foundations for stability in expansive clay soils.
The following is a recreation of a conversation between me and a neighbor when I first moved here. His name is Ed and he is wearing a ball cap and a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt.
Me: “What are those black hoses I see around your house?”
Ed: “Soaker hose. Water foundation.”
Me: “Excuse me, what?”
“Around here you have to water the foundation. I use the soaker hose for that. Part of foundation maintenance.” (Yes, he speaks in clipped sentences.)
“Well, why do you do that?”
“You’re not from around here, are you?”
“No, we just moved to this part of Texas. Moved here from St. Louis. Lived in New Mexico and El Paso before that. So, yeah, we’re new here.
“Well around here you have to water your slab, water foundation. Don’t let the dirt pull away from it. We have nasty clay soil around here and it’s hard on the house foundation. Be sure and get you some soaker hoses.”
“I’ll check into that, thanks. Soaker hose. Water foundation. Huh. See ya later, Ed.”
Ed’s wife later threw him out of the house. (more…)
Subject: Old house, slab foundation, clay soil, big trees, and the drought!
My family moved from Columbia, MO to a 21-yr old house in Sugar Land, TX in December 2010. Over the past few months, I have observed and learned big lessons about the house and its foundation, the swell/shrink clay soil in this region, one monstrous oak tree and another two big trees nearby, and the exceptional dry weather condition facing the entire state of Texas. I have a family of seven.
On top of my daily duties, I am feeling overwhelmed by the acuteness of the situation, signified by brick wall crack, pulled away soil, cracked door/window frames, wood siding separation, etc. (more…)
If you need a foundation fix, it might be because of climate change (formally known as “global warming”) At least that is the gist of an article written last year that I ran across in the New York times.
We know that homes built on expansive clay soils that swell during rainy periods, then shrink during dry spells cause a lot of problems for concrete slab foundations.
What I didn’t know was that these periods of dry weather followed by heavy rains have become more frequent and possibly triggered by climate change according to this NY Times article. Really? Here is a quote:
“Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association indicates that since the 1990s there has been an accelerating trend nationwide toward more extended dry periods followed by downpours. Whether due to random climate patterns or global warming, the swings between hot and dry weather and severe rain or snow have profoundly affected soil underneath buildings.” (more…)
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. (more…)
We are experiencing a pretty long hot dry spell in my part of the world. That means making sure the clay soil around my concrete slab-on-ground foundation doesn’t dry up and pull away. I’ve been running the soaker hoses pretty regularly and they do a nice job keeping the ground around the perimeter of my foundation moist or at least not too dry. We call it “watering the foundation.”
I did notice that one of the soaker hoses in the front was sending a 2 foot spray in the air. The problem with that is a reduction in the water pressure down stream from the spray and a less even distribution of water around that part of the foundation.
The fix is simple since soaker hoses are such low tech creatures. Mark the hose where the spray comes out, let the hose dry out a bit, then wrap the area with hose repair tape. Electrical tape works too. You are just trying to knock down a spray, not stop a leak.
If you are using soaker hoses to keep even moisture around your slab foundation it is a good idea to walk the perimeter once a week or so and look for breaks or big leaks that need fixing.