With Labor Day fast approaching and pre-season football in its
third week, I am beginning to set my sights on all things relating to FALL including
cooler temperatures. But for the past 64 days, there’s no mistaking, summer is
still around and temperatures have been anything but cool. With the absence of
rain and triple digit temperatures wreaking havoc on everything from our local crops
to our electricity usage plus the looming dangers of wildfires, this drought has certainly
taken its toll on the soil conditions in our region and the effects it has on the
foundation of our homes.
In areas where the ground is black and clay-like, known as
expansive soils, the lack of water and moisture can cause cracks the size of
small craters in the soil even under a foundation. Therefore, it is critical
that a homeowners maintain a constant moisture level around the perimeter of their
homes. Before we discuss the ramifications and remedies of such adverse conditions,
let’s talk more about the soil conditions.
Our local area soils are referred to as shrink-swell soils; those that can experience changes in volume up to 30% or more. Expansive soils “heave” during periods of high moisture levels when the ground is saturated causing “lifting” in various parts of a
foundation. The opposite conditions are known as falling soils which result
in the “collapse” of soils. Both of these conditions can lead to structural settlement and potential damage to a foundation.
What we are experiencing here in the North Texas region are drought conditions
resulting from unusually high temperatures for unusually long periods of time
with little to no rainfall. Even our area lakes and the real estate surrounding
them are suffering to extreme proportions.
How does a homeowner protect the integrity of their foundation in these volatile conditions, you ask?
This is what I have learned over the course of my years as a Realtor and Homeowner:
- Proper drainage is paramount around the perimeter of your home. Directing rain water away from the home is crucial to prevent problems.
- The usage of downspouts and proper grading to allow natural flow of water away from the foundation will help to prevent water from pooling along the foundation.
- Because of the seasonal changes in moisture level with dryer conditions throughout the summer months, a good year-round watering program is recommended. This would include a steady light soaking around the perimeter 2-3 ft. from the foundation, which will help to maintain a consistent moisture level and ward off any potential problems.
- It is important periodically to check the soil conditions around the foundation for preventative measures. You never know if a plumbing leak under the foundation is the root of the problem.
- Roots can actually be the “root” of major problems. Landscaping around your home should be kept under control because it is their very roots that absorb all the water available around the foundation. On new construction homes, builders often install a landscaping package of sizeable shrubs that have a tendency to grow out of control without proper pruning and attention by the homeowner.
- Same holds true for trees planted too close to the house. A good rule of thumb is to plant a tree away from the foundation the distance of its potential height. Tree roots have been the culprit of major damage resulting in extensive foundation repair. If you have purchased a pre-owned home with trees close to the house, there are preventative measures you can take to remedy the situation.
Homeownership is the American Dream, and now more affordable than ever, but with that comes responsibility and maintenance. Monitoring your moisture level around your foundation is one way which can save you money in the long run. And remember if you own a home in the North Texas Region there is no escaping the perils of Mother Nature and how that will affect your foundation and your wallet. Consult with a foundation repair expert for professional advice.