I was looking at a map from the US National Weather Service that showed almost a third of the country in drought conditions that range from “excessively dry” to “exceptional drought.” Not good.
And to make matters worse, many areas included in the drought also have homes built on shrink/swell heavy clay soils. That means when the soils dry out, house foundations start moving, usually dropping.
Things the homeowner will start to notice are cracks in the sheet rock inside and in brick veneers outside. Doors and windows that don’t work the way they used to and are supposed to, and in the worst cases, floors starting to slope.
It’s happening again at my house too.
Extended dry conditions like this provide plenty of work for foundation repair companies, but what about the homeowner?
Here are 5 Foundation Repair Issues To Be Aware Of
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.
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…)
The three most common ways of underpinning a home foundation in need of repair are steel piers, pre-cast concrete cylinders (or push piers) and the drilled bell bottom piers. Each method has it’s pros and cons and affects the cost of foundation repair.
Steel piers can be shoved into the ground deeper than concrete cylinders because they have a smaller diameter. Using concrete cylinders provides more surface area for the “skin friction” concept of engineering. The drilled bell bottom piers is the oldest method of foundation repair and still widely used although this method takes the most time.
I’m watching TV the other day and here comes a commercial for the Olshan foundation company pitching a combination of steel and concrete cylinders for a foundation fix.
Here’s the claim: (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…)