The Dirt on Texas Foundations – A Guide for Homeowners

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The Dirt on Texas Foundations – A Guide for Homeowners

The soil in our area has a high plasticity index which means it is highly expansive/contractive when wet/dry.

Talking with a neighbor recently, I shared I needed to “water” my foundation which seems like an odd statement until you realize how challenging the soil is in North Texas.  Only here do you buy a home with gutters, downspouts, splashblocks and drains only to realize that you have to “water” your foundation to stabilize the moisture level in the soil when it gets hot outside.

The soil in our area is called Blackland Prairie and it has a high plasticity index which means it is highly expansive/contractive when wet/dry. So, naturally occurring water (rain) must be moved away from your foundation and you must utilize a system to mechanically re-introduce water back towards the foundation.  Without getting into too many technical terms, I have provided a few tips for the two main ways to do this.

Soaker Hoses

Timers: These take the guesswork out of the process. The moisture has to penetrate up to 3’ deep so longer run times are required. Twice a week is a minimum.

Placement: Hose placement should not be directly against the home and 12” to 18” away is ideal. Avoid locating the hose between bushes and trees and the home’s foundation because their root structure will grow towards the water source and could cause problems for your foundation.

Sprinkler Systems

Testing: Several times a year evaluate the coverage of your sprinkler heads. Mysteriously these spray patterns change over time. A low-tech approach to determine adequate coverage is to take 6-8 Tuna or cat food cans and place at various locations by the foundation around the spray pattern of a single zone. After a set period of time (10 minutes works well) see if the cans have about the same amount of water. Continue this test around the entire perimeter of the foundation. Most foundation experts don’t feel that sprinklers systems alone are adequate because they don’t penetrate deep enough into the soil.

Drip Lines: While the initial costs of having a drip-line added to an existing sprinkler system can be prohibitive ($1,200 to $1,800 is common) the reduced costs associated with foundation repairs can easily offset these costs.

These two tips are just the tip of the iceberg for us Northern Texans!  If you are like me, I feel better knowing a bit more, so I recently published a guide called The Dirt on North Texas to help homeowners understand the foundation challenges we face in North Texas.  You can download your free copy by clicking here. 

Bottom line, not all foundations are created equal.  If you suspect you are having a foundation issue, consult a professional.

Tom Tracy

Blue Sky Home Inspections TREC #23433

Be Safe. Do not attempt any repairs or work that you are not qualified for or would be unsafe. Validate that all repairs meet your local building standards before starting work. Hire only licensed or highly qualified contractors when needed.

If you found this article helpful, you may also find other topics relevant to your HOA on this blog at Community. Well-Served.

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CMA Management
37 Years of Community. Well Served. (www.cmamanagement.com) Headquartered in Plano, Texas, CMA has three regional offices and numerous onsite locations providing contract management services for more than 250 residential and commercial communities, and more than 97,000 individual units. Residential Communities •Town Home Communities •Master Planned Communities •Active Adult Communities •Commercial Associations