Using soaker hoses around concrete slab foundations for stability in expansive clay soils.
In my part of the world the spring rains are coming to an end and the soil is getting drier. Since my concrete slab foundation sits on shrink-swell clay soils, I have to make a concerted effort to keep the dirt around the foundation moist. It’s really not that big of a deal because of the easy availability of soaker hoses. You can find them at major hardware stores, home improvement centers and in the lawn and garden departments of the “big box” discount stores.
In an earlier post, I included a diagram of a typical soaker hose setup. With not that much cash you can ring your foundation with soaker hoses and regular garden hoses to get an even distribution of water to keep the soil moist. Most experts say to put the hoses 12-18 inches out from the edge of your slab. Mulch and other landscaping techniques can hide them. They need not be an eyesore. You can see the tools and techniques you’ll need here.
No one has ever accused me of being the handiest guy on the planet, so if can I put together a soaker hose system you can too. And you will be doing your concrete slab-on-ground foundation a huge favor.
Every concrete slab that may need repair presents its own symptoms and problems. Each situation is different. The guy next door to me had piers put in all around the perimeter of his house. He had concrete push piers installed under a 2,000 square foot single-story house and he said he paid right around $7,000. We live in the Dallas area.
But the guy down the street in pretty much the same sized house only needed piers under the east and south side of the slab. He also paid close to $7,000 for concrete push piers. However, two of his piers had to go under the driveway. Maybe that added to the cost.
The number of piers required and the type of piers used for underpinning are two of the variables that affect the cost of foundation repair. Steel piers are generally more expensive.
This is one of the reasons the cost of foundation repair varies, and why the prudent home owner gets bids from at least three different foundation repair contractors. Spending a few hundred dollars on an inspection by an independent structural engineer is a good idea as well.
The Dallas Morning New recently ran an article on the damage to slab foundations caused by the shrink-swell clay soils and the weather in North Texas. The piece also touched on costs of foundation repair and how the lowly soaker hose is indeed your friend. Here is a link to the article.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of cosmetic fix-up inside the house over the last 10 months or so since I had root barriers installed. At the same time I had large shrubs removed from the west side of the slab foundation.
In the meantime I’ve been fixing drywall and painting. There were some small wall cracks that needed filling and some areas where sheet rock tape had popped, things to be expected of a thirty year old house that has a concrete slab foundation sitting on shrink-swell heavy clay soil. So far things have stayed fixed.
The was one crack in the ceiling near the patio door that was always kind of an indicator of foundation movement for me. It would open and close ever so slightly depending how much rain we had gotten or how faithful I had been with running the soaker hoses.
Well sir, that crack has stayed closed for several months now. I don’t know if it’s because of all the rain we’ve had this year, the root barriers, the soaker hoses or a combination of all three. It’s probably the latter. At any rate, it’s nice to give the drywall mud knife a rest.
We had a bit of a dry spell last week and I decided to run my soaker hoses to make sure the soil around my concrete slab foundation was staying moist.
I hadn’t needed to run the soaker hoses in quite a while. Even though I have gutters that take most of the rainfall away from the foundation the soil was not drying out significantly because we have had a lot of rain in my area this spring and so far this summer. Record amounts of rain.
I’m using a “T” splitter on the west side of my foundation to make sure I have enough water pressure in the entire length of the soaker hose. I’m using a configuration similar to the diagram on this page. (more…)
As I recall, soaker hoses are those porous rubber conduits one drapes around the perimeter of the foundation to supply an even measure of moisture to the slab. It’s smart to do this if your house sits on shrink-swell clay soils.
I haven’t had to use mine for six months. After two years of drought and local water use restrictions it has rained. a. lot. The area lakes are full and then some, my yard is squishy and the grass fat with water.
If I were to run the soaker hoses the water would immediately run off and head for the street moving quicker than a fat kid on cake. We are ten inches above normal in the rainfall column for this year. So far. But that could change.
All the rain could come to a screeching halt next week. In fact, we usually have hot dry summers. So my soaker hoses lie in wait, resting under a thick layer of mulch, until it’s time once again to deliver moisture to the foundation.