Water Conservation Tip No. 12
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Really dry summers cause serious problems for Texas foundations. The problem is especially common in expansive/contractive heavy clay soils. As those soils dry they shrink and cracks wide enough to turn ankles develop. Those changes in the clay soil can pull concrete surfaces apart damaging bricks, tile, plastic, sheetrock and paint in the process. Doors and windows don’t work the way they’re supposed to.
The best way to prevent those problems is to keep the soil watered deeply. If you’re taking good care of the landscape plants adjacent to your house that will often suffice. However, it’s also a good idea to stretch a soaker hose around the house 4 to 6 inches out from the foundation. Use a pressure regulator to ensure that all openings are delivering the same amount of water, then leave it running at a slow dribble for 12 to 24 hours.
There are those who will tell you that tree and shrub roots actually do huge damage to the foundations. In terms of drying out the soil that may be the case, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they must be removed. You may be able to dig a trench 16 to 18 inches deep and install a root barrier fabric from the nursery, hardware store or water garden supplier. October is the best time to make those cuts so that the plants will have maximum time to regrow more roots before the following summer.
Finally, some people will say that wet soils are of no concern with foundations but the truth is that those same clays that shrink when they’re dry will also expand when they’re wet. If cracks have already developed, the various parts of the slab may push against one another causing additional damage. Your best bet is to have a respected foundation expert take a look at your house.