Foundation Water Maintenance Tips

January 15, 2014 by Mark Stephens  
Filed under Home Maintenance

Due to the high clay content of soils found in North Texas, it is very important that your foundation be consistently watered to help stabilize your foundation. That’s right. If you live in North Texas, you have to “water your slab”. Clay bases soils are very expansive, meaning, when they’re wet, they expand. When they’re dry, they contract. This can be noted by the large cracks commonly seen in playgrounds, parks, pastures and even the soil directly in contact with your homes foundation. Here are some tips on how to achieve consistent water content to the foundation of your home. The photos at the bottom of the page are illustrations of a good way to effectively water your foundation in an affordable manner.

Since we can’t control the rain, we use a watering program to regulate water content during the dry periods, whether it be in the winter of summer months. A consistent watering program will keep the soil damp approximately four feet deep. Bare in mind, flower beds (areas with plants) will require more water because the plants are thirsty too.

With a few items bought at the local hardware store, and a couple hours of your time, you can construct a simple automatic watering system that will efficiently maintain acceptable water content.

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A good way to water your foundation is with the use of soaker hoses and electric timers. In order for the watering system to be effective, the soaker hose should be placed 15-18in away from the foundation, and run the necessary amount of time.

Most neighborhoods do not have enough water pressure to run the soaker hoses from img_0382-smallone hose bib to the other. Therefore, it is necessary for the soaker hoses to be split with the use of a “Y” connection, and run in opposite directions of a distance that will allow equal water flow all the way around the house.

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THIS IS WRONG!!!

DO NOT place soaker hoses next to the foundation, as this can erode the soil at the base of the foundation parameter. The necessary amount of time depends on the amount of rainfall…and don’t forget about the plants. In other words, the hotter, drier, windier and sunnier it is, the more you need to water. The cooler, wetter and cloudier it is, the less you need to water.

Do not determine the amount of water needed by the wetness of the soil at the surface. A good way to determine soil wetness is to use a plumber’s probe. A plumber’s probe is made of fiber glass, with a “T” handle, and is approximately 4 ½ ft long. If your soils are too wet, the probe can be pushed with little or no effort. If you cant push the probe at all without banging on it, the soils are too dry. Indications of good water content can be seen when the probe can be pushed 3-4ft by leaning heavily on the handle. Never use metal probes, as electrical lines are often buried near the house. Accidental penetration could cause you to be electrocuted.

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Comments

10 Responses to “Foundation Water Maintenance Tips”

  1. Sharon Lewis on August 8th, 2011 1:01 am

    Right now we’re rotating a sprinkler around the house. We may have to buy these tools and get more serious if this drought doesn’t end soon.

  2. Greg Harris on August 16th, 2011 12:55 pm

    I have a 1- 2 ” gap between the foundation and lawn, where the lawn has contracted. Should I fill this in with soil, or just continue soaking the lawn further out from the foundation?

  3. Melissa Newman on September 30th, 2011 3:56 pm

    Mind if I share this article in our neighborhood newsletter? I will put your name and company name for reference. Thanks!

    Melissa Newman
    Glen Meadows
    Plano, Texas

  4. Mark Stephens on February 28th, 2012 5:40 pm

    Sorry for the delay in responding to your question. Our comments have not been posting properly. To answer your question, continue using soaker hoses placed 18″ from your foundation. In time, the gap will close. Filling in the crack with soil, could lead to heaving and more shifting, causing damage to your home. Hope this helps. You are more than welcome to contact us by phone or email, anytime, with questions or concerns. Good luck!

  5. Mark Stephens on February 28th, 2012 5:41 pm

    Absolutely! You are more than welcome to share any of the content on our website. We are happy to help!

  6. ames iowa real estate on September 26th, 2013 10:25 pm

    It is really a nice and useful piece of info.
    I am happy that you simply shared this useful information with
    us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Kristi m on January 15th, 2014 1:21 pm

    We have mostly concrete around our house due to driveways and sidewalks not much actual “dirt” so would we water the concrete ???? We have recently been getting lots of cracks in ceiling sheet rock ???

  8. Mark Stephens on January 15th, 2014 5:06 pm

    Hi Kristi,

    Watering the cement won’t have much of an effect however, if you have a flowerbed around your house, watering that area will help. Even if it’s a small section between your cemented area and your slab. I would recommend that you contact a foundation repair company or even a geothermal engineer. Your situation is not typical so my knowledge is somewhat limited since you are experiencing cosmetic damage in your drywall. I hope this helps.

    Mark

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