Foundation Maintenance

Preventing Foundation Problems

Are you noticing tiny cracks forming around your windows and doors? This could be your home’s foundation settling. Very common in the Dallas area due to the high clay content of the soil and our dry summers, these cracks can be slowed and even prevented with a little year-round attention. The best thing to do for your foundation is to keep the soil at a constant moisture level. You can do this a few ways: water the foundation, and keep plants and mulch around your foundation.

Watering your foundation can be easily accomplished with a soaker hose. Lay enough hose to go around your foundation placed 12 to 18 inches from the slab. Although it’s best to bury the hose about 2 inches, you can leave the hose on the ground and cover with a layer of dirt or mulch.

Watering Your Foundation

You can significantly reduce the rate of differential settlement by observing the following recommendations

Constant Moisture
Try to maintain constant moisture content in the soil around the foundation. Water the soil evenly and around the entire foundation during extended dry periods. This should prevent a gap from opening between the soil and foundation edge. However, if a gap does appear, water frequently (at least daily) around the entire foundation during extended dry periods (6 to 7 days in the summer). Do not apply water directly into the gap. Instead, water 1 to 2 feet away from the foundation edge. Some homeowners choose to install a fully automated foundation watering system to eliminate the need to remember to water. It is best to add water about three times per day to ensure that the applied water has time to soak into the soil.
Cap or Cut Roots
Cut and cap the roots of any large trees growing closer to the foundation than the mature height of the trees. The roots from a large tree or several medium size trees can consume more water from the soil than can be added with a watering system. This will limit the consumption of water from the soil below the foundation and may prevent excessive differential settlement and cracks in the structure. It is recommended that a professional tree expert be used to prevent damage to the trees when a tree grows too close to a building to allow cutting and capping of the roots, it is advisable to remove the tree or make special provision for watering the soil below the foundation.
Grade Soil Properly
Properly grade the soil by filling in low spots and leveling off high spots adjacent to the foundation so that the surface of the soil slopes gradually away from the building. A recommended slope is 1 inch per foot for a distance of 3 to 4 feet from the foundation.
Control Water Runoff
Control roof water runoff and help prevent soil erosion by using a gutter and downspout system. This is especially important if a building has no eaves, which overhang the walls or if the eaves are less than 1 foot wide.
Water Trees and Shrubs Regularly
Water trees and shrubs growing near a building during extended dry periods as they cause shrinking of the soil due to their high water consumption. Keep in mind that moderate to large trees consume 50 to 75 gallons of water from the soil every day. Remember: the intent of foundation maintenance is to maintain a constant moisture content in the soil around and below the entire foundation and to prevent soil erosion that can result from water flowing off the roof or other large flat surfaces near the building.
Watering Foundtaion

Watering Tips

It’s important to keep a constant moisture level year-round. Do not over water or under water. In the rainy months of spring and early summer, you can limit your watering, but be sure to resume watering once the rain is over. Set your faucet in a constant drip for the soaker hose. Or, install a timer to water twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes, more often in the dry months, less often in the wet months.

Keeping Moisture

Plants and foliage around your foundation help keep the soil at a constant moisture level. A layer of mulch around plants will help keep the plants moist, as well as the foundation. If these plants look healthy, your foundation is most likely in good shape.

TIP: If you want to add a walkway around your home, try natural stones or pave-stones spaced apart with grass or ground cover in between. Placing cement next to your foundation can cause drying in the soil and cracks in the cement.

If you have numerous or large cracks on the interior or exterior of your home, you may have a serious foundation settlement problem and need professional foundation repair.

Landscape Foliage