How Watering Your Foundation May Reduce Necessity of Structural Repairs
Did you know that according to the Texas State Historical Association, over 1,300 types of soil are present in our state? From dark loamy dirt, to sugar sand, to red clay– each soil type possesses vastly different characteristics. Considering that homes and commercial buildings are built upon a plethora of these soil types, knowing the soil and understanding its characteristics is key to planning a repair or preventing the necessity of a foundation repair in Texas.
Clay Texas Soil
Particularly complicating the matter are the ways in which different soils react to varying environmental conditions. For example, the colorful clay that is so abundant in much of our state may be sticky when damp, and slippery when wet. But expose that same clay to drought-like conditions and as it dries, it will become hard and cracked. If your home is built upon any of the clay soil commonly found through North Texas, your home may be at risk for foundation issues. The good news, however, is that many of these problems may be prevented by the simple act of watering your foundation.
Yes, just like you water your lawn or your garden, if your home’s foundation rests on a bed of clay, it could benefit from a nice, long drink. Think of the clay underneath your structure like a sponge. A sponge with no water may be particularly hard. Add water to that sponge and it not only becomes soft, but it also expands as it absorbs the water.
Clay works the same way because of the presence of a substance called silica. Have you ever bought a pair of shoes and in the box, found a little packet of a substance that says “Do not ingest?” That packet contains silica, and is included in the shoe box to absorb any moisture, thus protecting the shoes. Silica absorbs moisture, and tiny specks of this substance are naturally present in clay. The silica in the clay absorbs water, causing the clay to expand.
If a building’s foundation rests upon clay, the soil that supports the foundation is constantly experiencing this process of expansion and contraction, which may affect long-term stability of the structure. By keeping the moisture level of the clay soil underneath a structure at a more constant level, you may be able to protect your home from potential foundation issues.
How Can I Tell if My Foundation Needs Watering?
To determine if your home would benefit from foundation watering, dig a hole approximately two feet deep near the foundation of your home. Remove a handful of dirt from the very bottom of the hole, and form it into a ball in your hand. If the dirt in your hand retains its ball shape, the moisture level in the soil around your foundation is probably appropriate. If it immediately falls apart, consider watering your foundation with a soaker hose or drip irrigation hose.
Foundation Watering Tips
Water Restriction Guidelines
Always follow your municipality’s water restriction guidelines.
Maintain a Perimeter
Do not lay soaker hose or drip irrigation hose directly against the foundation itself. Maintain a perimeter of eighteen to twenty-four inches around your foundation.
Avoid Pooling Water
Since your goal is for the silica in the clay to absorb moisture, the rate of flow through your hose should be minimal. If water is pooling around your home, reduce your flow rate.
Water During the Evening
Consider watering your foundation during evening hours when evaporation is less likely to occur.
How Long Should I Water My Foundation?
The length of time you will need to water your foundation will vary depending on soil conditions, but you may wish to water twice a week for approximately thirty minutes. At the end of the week, check your soil by performing the aforementioned ball test, and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
Of course, before you begin a foundation watering regimen, you must know what soil types are prevalent under your structure. Just like the oath spoken by modern physicians, your goal should be “primum non nocere” or “first, do no harm.” There isn’t a single approach that will solve every foundation issue.
If you are concerned about the state of your home or commercial building’s foundation, or concerned about the quality of the soil beneath your structure, contact Perma-Pier Foundation Repair of Texas to schedule an evaluation by one of our professionally trained inspectors.