It’s been a long hot dry summer over much of the U.S. and particularly so in Texas and it’s been hard on the home foundation built in those areas with expansive clay soils. We’ve seen a stretch of 100 plus degree days that flirted with the record books and hardly any rain.
That’s good for the foundation repair companies. But not so good for home owners who have not only had to endure sweltering heat but are now seeing signs of foundation movement.
Things you can do to avoid the cost of foundation repair
In fact here are 7 common mistakes homeowners make in regard to their concrete slab foundations that sit on heavy clay soils. I’m as guilty as the next guy as far as some of these missteps go, so don’t think I’m getting all high and mighty on you.
First: Not having soaker hoses stretching along the entire perimeter of the home foundation. No soaker hoses. None. Nada. Zip. Not good. Watering the grass isn’t enough. Soaker hoses are the easiest and most economical way for the average homeowner to keep an even layer of moisture around the foundation and prevent settling.
Second: Not running them. Forgetting about them for weeks at a time (until the doors start sticking and the cracks start showing up.) The whole point of soaker hoses is moot if you don’t use them.
Third: Not using restrictor discs between the water supply and the first section of the soaker hose. They are like a washer but with a much smaller hole for the water to go through into the soaker hose. This causes an even amount of water pressure (low) down the length of the hose. The soaker hoses should weep water, not spray.
Fourth: Wrong distance between the edge of your home foundation and the soaker hose. Most foundation repair companies and consultants suggest placing them 12 to 18 inches away from the slab. I say use your judgment. If you have them that far away and you are still seeing soil pulling away from the foundation, move them closer.
More tips on protecting the home foundation with soaker hoses
Fifth: Running the soaker hoses too much. You don’t want to see standing water or ponding next to the foundation of a house. Start with an hour a day, every day and see what happens. When the clay soil around the slab is evenly moist (not real wet) and snug against the foundation, it’s what you want. Keep adjusting how much you run the soaker hoses until you achieve that even layer of moisture.
Sixth: Not checking for leaks. After you turn the soaker hoses on, walk around the house foundation and listen for hissing. That sound usually indicates a leak. (Or a snake.) See if you can find a spot in the hose that is spraying rather than just weeping. By the way, this is a good argument for NOT burying the soaker hoses. If they spring a leak, how do you know? Covering with mulch I think is good. You can still hear the hissing.
Seventh: Not replacing them when worn out. The soaker hoses are made of porous recycled rubber (usually tires) and don’t last forever. Critters, insects, sunlight, humans with tools and even your neighbor can cause damage. Three to five years is a good lifespan for a soaker hose.
Foundation Repair Companies Can Install Them For You
If you are not into DYI, many companies that do foundation repair can also install a system for you. You can ask them to include a timing system that will automatically turn the soaker hoses on and off for you.
You’ll spend more money having the work done, but it will still be much less than underpinning, which is the biggest cost of foundation repair.