Clay Soil – Living In The Swell Times of Shrink-Swell

This little blog is written from the Dallas, Texas part of the globe which happens to be in one of the busiest areas for foundation repair companies. Why?

Most of the residential neighborhoods are built on what used to be black prairie farmland.  Where once they grew cotton they now grow housing developments planted in the same heavy clay soils.

These soils swell when wet and shrink when it’s dry. The result is rising, falling and twisting of the average slab-on-ground concrete foundation. The use of soaker hoses to keep the soil around the foundation moist is a must.
Up until about six months ago things were very dry in North Central Texas. We were/still are in drought conditions and most communities issued restrictions on water use.

Starting last December it finally started raining again. A lot. Our local lakes are filling back up. My entire yard is green and wet. I’ve seen small cracks in the brick veneer close back up.

The root barriers seem to be doing their job and the trees seem none the worse so far. I had large shrubs around the foundation removed. Instead I have a heavy layer of mulch that hide the soaker hoses.

Typically the rain shuts off in June and I’ll be running the soaker hoses again. But in the meantime the moisture content around the foundation is healthy and on the up-swing of the shrink-swell pendulum. Sweet!

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    • Mary
    • May 13, 2007

    Hello, I’ve been reading your blog because I am trying to get as much information on foundations as I can. We live in an older house in Washington state that .. well looks like 2×4 piers balanced on rocks, chunks of broken concrete.. whatever the guy could find. ( I think this house was built by hand by some guy on a 3 day drunk )
    Hope you are having good luck with your foundation !


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