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.
You know a drought is taking its toll on the slab foundation in your area when the local television news is running stories on how busy foundation repair companies are.
While some parts of the U.S. are finally drying out after record flooding this spring, other parts of the country including Texas are experiencing record dry conditions.
As I write this, my soaker hoses are running. You know the drill, when in drought, water foundation.
A TV outlet in Austin, Texas has a news article where they are talking to both homeowners and foundation contractors and things are not good. Well, not for the homeowners.
One of the homeowners has a problem with his doors sticking, not latching properly, and now cracks are appearing in the walls. Those are classic signs of foundation issues. (more…)
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…)
We are experiencing a pretty long hot dry spell in my part of the world. That means making sure the clay soil around my concrete slab-on-ground foundation doesn’t dry up and pull away. I’ve been running the soaker hoses pretty regularly and they do a nice job keeping the ground around the perimeter of my foundation moist or at least not too dry. We call it “watering the foundation.”
I did notice that one of the soaker hoses in the front was sending a 2 foot spray in the air. The problem with that is a reduction in the water pressure down stream from the spray and a less even distribution of water around that part of the foundation.
The fix is simple since soaker hoses are such low tech creatures. Mark the hose where the spray comes out, let the hose dry out a bit, then wrap the area with hose repair tape. Electrical tape works too. You are just trying to knock down a spray, not stop a leak.
If you are using soaker hoses to keep even moisture around your slab foundation it is a good idea to walk the perimeter once a week or so and look for breaks or big leaks that need fixing.