Foundation Maintenance is an important, and often overlooked, part of home ownership. When dealing with expansive soils, the goal of the maintenance is to keep a consistent moisture content. Clay is the most common expansive soil in our area. As these soils change in moisture content, they will expand and shrink. When they are over saturated, they will expand, causing pressure on a foundation. As the soils become dry, they shrink. Clay can shrink up to 35% of its original wet volume. When this shrinking occurs, the soil shrinks under a foundation, leaving a void where the foundation can settle.
Tips on foundation maintenance
- Around an entire foundation the ground should be sloped away from the structure. This will promote healthy drainage of surface water. If this water lays next to a home, the soil will soak up the excess creating oversaturation. Keep all ground, sidewalks, patios, and driveways sloped away.
- The rule of thumb for trees is to not have a tree closer to your home than its’ mature height. The tree’s root structure will drain the soils right from under your foundation, causing a dry, shrunken soil that can promote settlement.
- FOUNDATION WATERING. Foundations should be watered in times of extended dry seasons. If your ground starts to crack away from your home, it could have begun to shrink under the foundation as well. Watering the foundation can keep consistent moisture content. Most foundations can be watered once a day. Make sure when you water your foundation, it is 1 to 2 feet from the home. Dumping water directly on the foundation wall can cause other damage. Allow the water to soak in, and use extra if trees are close.
- LANDSCAPING BEDS. These beds need to be sloped away from the home as well. Many landscape edges will cause water to be trapped within the landscaping. This can create potential problems as well. All areas around a home should be well drained.
- All downspouts should be kept clean, and monitored for function. Make sure you know where the exit line is, and keep the exit free of clogging.
- PLUMBING LEAKS. Fix all leaks immediately.
It is never too late to start a foundation maintenance plan. Sometimes a little maintenance can stop a basement from leaking, or prevent further movement.