People are often confused about keeping the right moisture levels around their house when it comes to properly maintaining the foundation. The proper moisture levels vary dramatically depending on the type of foundation you have. Keeping a constant moisture level around your foundation is important to prevent from having settlement problems down the road.
With slab foundations, you wish to have the surrounding areas around the slab with balanced moisture levels – not too dry and not too wet. The underneath of the slab typically doesn’t matter unless there are other drainage or plumbing issues. When it comes to pier and beam construction, this is a different story. You want the underneath of the crawl space to be bone dry. This is how it was when the piers were put in and this is how it should be maintained.
With pier and beam foundations, when the moisture levels underneath the house are too high and/or fluctuate dramatically due to draining and/or plumbing leak issues. You can generally tell if the underneath of pier and beam houses are dry by seeing cracks in the soil in the crawl space. This is a good sign. If you see water puddles, call us to get an assessment of the problem.
About Watering & Your Foundation
Many homeowners have questions about watering. How much is too much? How much is too little? How close to the house should I water? How does watering affect the foundation of my home?
Obviously, some of us are over-watering, as evidenced by long streams of water flowing down the gutters and into the storm sewers. Not only is this wasteful, it is also harmful to your lawn and foundation.
Conversely, many of us have not watered nearly enough, as evidenced by grass that is dead or very nearly dead in its peak growing season. Foundation problems caused by expansive clay soils usually develop when the amount of water in the soil changes non-uniformly under the perimeter or interior of the slab.
Our climate is such that these clay soils shrink when dry and swell when wet, resulting in up and down movement of the house. If this occurs unevenly (one area of soil under the house gets more water or dries out faster), the house may become strained and foundation damage occurs.
Foundation maintenance, in general, consists of one major concept: The moisture in the soil under and around the house should be as consistent and uniform as possible at all times.
Bedrock Foundation Repair offers the following tips to watering and maintaining your home’s lawn and foundation:
1. Install good ground cover. This will prevent excessive moisture from seeping deep into the soil. This will also prevent erosion of the soil and excessive drying of the soil through evaporation.
2. Water the soil around the house during dry periods just enough to keep the grass green. More watering may be needed in areas with more abundant shrubbery and plants. The south and west sides of the house are more exposed to the sun, and they may need more watering to offset rapid evaporation.
3. Never water too close to the foundation. Stay at least 18 inches away from the base of the foundation.
4. Never water directly into cracks in the soil near the base of your foundation. These cracks usually go a few feet deep, and the water will reach soil that is normally undisturbed by concentrated amounts of moisture. Depending on the shrink/swell potential of the soil, the soil may up-heave, or it may consolidate and lose volume. Either way, it can undermine the foundation.
5. Never place sand, sandy loam or rocks around the foundation. They are very porous, and allow water to pass quickly to the soil below, where the sun and wind cannot dry it out. Clay soils are non-porous, and are recommended for proper water drainage away from the house.
6. Never allow water to pond around the foundation. If water stands for very long, it will seep under the foundation, causing problems. Create a positive slope for water to flow away.