Protecting Your Home Foundation: Rinse & Repeat
In past blogs, we’ve discussed how evaporation, shrubs, trees and plants have a tremendous effect on the moisture content around your home foundation. In fact, all Texas homes should be protected by a watering system (i.e. a soaker hose).
A successful foundation watering system will keep the soil near and under the slab at a consistent moisture level, which is key in protecting your home. Ideally, the moisture will remain consistent to a depth of several feet.
- Comply with your city’s current rules and restrictions for water use.
- Place the soaker hose or drip lines about 1-2 feet from the foundation. The hose or drip line should not be placed against the foundation (this will cause the soils to move away from the foundation).
- Run the hose or drip line at a rate that allows the water to trickle into the soil (avoid pooling or runoff). It should not become muddy or dry and cracked.
- Always make sure the soils around your foundation are covered with mulch, wood chips or alternative organic substances to protect it from the sun and air.
- Embed the soaker hose or drip line in the mulch or wood chips.
- Most importantly, set up a timing system.
Setting Up Your Water System’s Timing
Every soil situation is different, so here are some general tips from our foundation engineers to help you properly set up your system:
- Winter, Spring and Fall – Run your watering system twice each day, preferably at dawn and dusk.
- Summer – Run your watering system three times each day, preferably at dawn, noon and dusk.
Note: If these timing systems do not prevent the soils from drying or cracking, increase the frequency or the flow rate.
Dirt Ball Test
To make sure you’re getting the right timing and water volume correct, we recommend conducting the following test:
- Water for about 30 minutes two or three days for a week.
- Dig a small hole 16 – 24 inches deep on each elevation of your house near the foundation.
- Get a handful of dirt from the bottom of the hole. Roll some of the dirt into a 2-inch diameter ball.
- If the dirt holds together in the ball shape, you’ve probably got the right amount of moisture.
- If it doesn’t hold together, you need to water longer or more often on that elevation of your house.
- After a week or so of adjusted watering, try the dirt-ball test again to see if you get better results.
- Repeat these steps until you get consistently good results. As the seasons change, adjust your schedule based on periodic dirt-ball tests.
Proper foundation watering can help protect your home foundation from cracks and other pitfalls. If you suspect your home foundation may be in need of a foundation inspection, or if you have questions about proper watering techniques, contact one of the independent foundation engineers at Crosstown Engineering.
Photo Credit: Jessica Reeder