Watering a foundation can be an important part of your foundation maintenance plan. This is not a new innovation, but one that is often misunderstood, or misused.
Expansive soils, such as clay, have the potential to expand in the wet seasons, and the potential to shrink in the dry seasons. For a home, both can cause foundation failure.
We are all aware of what happens to our yards in extended dry weather conditions. The soil begins to crack, separate, and pull away. This process is not only happening on the surface, but down under a home’s foundation. The drying rate of the soil can cause it to shrink out from under your footer, and allow the home to settle. This change in soil size is the reason some homes will move up and down through the seasons.
For a healthy foundation, we need to keep constant moisture content around, and under your home. Watering a foundation can help with this in the dry seasons. We typically recommend watering 24” out from the foundation wall for 15 minutes daily. The idea is to mimic a light to average rain daily. This allows the soils to absorb the moisture, and help prevent settlement. We do not recommend watering directly on the foundation wall as this can cause water to travel directly down the wall, and possibly become a leak.
The closer a footer is to the surface, the higher risk for settlement due to shrinking soils. Therefore, crawl spaces, garages, porches, and walk out basement areas should all be covered by a watering plan.
Beware to not overwater when beginning a foundation watering plan. The soil takes time to shrink, and needs time to absorb the water. Overwatering extremely dry soil can cause basement and crawl space leaks.
Not all foundations need watering, but awareness of the potential problems, and the correct prevention, can help you make an informed decision. No one wants the value of their home to sink.