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…)
If you need a foundation fix, it might be because of climate change (formally known as “global warming”) At least that is the gist of an article written last year that I ran across in the New York times.
We know that homes built on expansive clay soils that swell during rainy periods, then shrink during dry spells cause a lot of problems for concrete slab foundations.
What I didn’t know was that these periods of dry weather followed by heavy rains have become more frequent and possibly triggered by climate change according to this NY Times article. Really? Here is a quote:
“Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association indicates that since the 1990s there has been an accelerating trend nationwide toward more extended dry periods followed by downpours. Whether due to random climate patterns or global warming, the swings between hot and dry weather and severe rain or snow have profoundly affected soil underneath buildings.” (more…)
Foundation contractors sometimes offer up to three methods of underpinning a house foundation. These three main methods of repair include pushed concrete piers, steel piers and the drilled or bell bottom pier.
I’ve run across one company that says the bell bottom pier is the best way to go. It is the oldest method, most tested and most reliable form of underpinning a house with foundation problems. It is the type of pier used in highway and major commercial construction and has been for years. The company is Dawson Foundation Repair and has locations across Texas.
A Slab Foundation on Heavy Clay Soil is Subject to Movement
During the rainy season, clay soils expand with the added moisture. When the soils dry out the clay soils shrink. This can cause not only up and down movement of your foundation but also lateral movement. And this can cause the classic signs of foundation problems…diagonal cracks in the walls, inside and out, doors and windows that don’t work right and uneven floors. (more…)
I live in the Dallas, Texas area where we are bombarded with advertising from foundation repair companies. Some of the ads are more soft sell than others but it seems they would all love to come out, shake your hand, ask how the kids are and give your concrete slab-on-ground foundation a free no-obligation inspection. Some companies specialize in one repair method or another, usually meaning pressed concrete piles or steel piers. Other contractors generalize by offering all types of piers. Most say they will pack up the contracts and slowly back away if they think your foundation is fine.
So a coupon from one of these contractors arrives the other day offering $500 off the total cost of a foundation repair job. So far so good. Now comes the fine print. (more…)
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.
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.