House Foundation – Soaker Hose and Old Man Winter

A question that comes to mind is “Should I worry about my soaker hoses that are around my house foundation being damaged by freezing temperatures during the winter?”

Short answer: “Not really.”

Most soaker hoses are made from recycled tires which is pretty tough stuff. Add to that the fact that soaker hoses are porous by design and should not have much water in them a few hours after they’ve been run. You can also blast the water out with an air compressor or good old lung power.

It’s an excellent idea to cover soaker hoses with a thick layer of mulch. Doing so cuts back on loss of water through evaporation during the hot months and offers protection from freezing weather during the winter. A six inch layer would be a good start.

Of course you can damage soaker hoses by running them while the outside temperatures are well below freezing and yanking on them while they are frozen stiff. But who besides your crazy neighbor would be doing that? Not you. You’re inside enjoying a warm beverage and not worrying about your soaker hoses.

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A Piece of Concrete Has Fallen From My House. Can Ruin Be Far Behind?

I was running the soaker hoses around the foundation a few days ago and noticed a pretty bad crack just above the southwest corner of the foundation. Tapping at it with the toe of my shoe caused a chunk of concrete to fall away. I had no idea I possessed such power in my shoes.

Corner wedge of concrete slab foundation
I hadn’t paid much attention to this crack because it had been hiding behind shrubs up until a few weeks ago. So I had to wonder if this corner thing means my foundation is critically ill and I should be calling Dr. McPiers.

Not to worry, says R. Michael Gray, P.E. and Matthew T. Gray who have a structural engineering and home inspection firm in Houston.

It’s called a wedge crack. (more…)

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Foundation Repair With Two Types of Steel Piers

SABER is company that offers a lot of services having to do with concrete repair and slab leveling including residential foundations.

If you are checking out foundation repair companies and have questions about about methods of repair and steel piers in particular the SABER website may be of help to you

Their website describes two of the more common types of steel piers on the market today: resistance and helical piers. (more…)

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Replacing Lost Moisture Under the Foundation

Another thing Tom the Contractor suggested for reversing the loss of moisture under my slab foundation after the root barriers were installed was to rehydrate the soil. That’s a fancy word for squirting water into the dirt under the house.
Getting some water back under the slab

One of his crew went all around the foundation with machine similar to a power washer with a plunger attachment. A garden hose was attached and the plunger was pushed a good three feet deep into the soil every 24 inches or so. A valve on the handle controlled the flow of water.

Between the rehydration treatment and a better soaker hose configuration we are getting moisture back into that clay soil.

UPDATE: This was probably not needed given the slab leak that was discovered a few years later.

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Installing Root Barriers

The structural engineer who inspected my concrete slab foundation recommended tree root barriers be installed to stop foundation settlement due to loss of moisture in the clay soil that my home sits on. The thinking is that trees can suck a lot of water from under a foundation and contribute to the shrinking of clay soils which in turn causes differential movement of the slab. You see the results with cracks in sheet rock, separation of trim, doors and windows that stick or uneven floors. You know, bad stuff in the house.

Installing root barrier

Yesterday the contractor and his merry band of shovelers and ax wielders arrived, took out shrubs and put in root barriers. Please indulge me and read about it here. Thanks.

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