Why Foundation issues are so common in the DFW area
The first thing we need to talk about is why water is good for your home’s foundation. Homes in the DFW area are built on clay soil. Clay soil is known to expand and contract as the moisture content of the soil changes. This is bad for your home, as your home is constantly moving up and down.
When a home moves too much foundation repair is usually needed to correct the delta that has occured. Repairing a foundation involves installing piers underneath the house and physically raising the home back to a normal state.
Now that we have an understanding on our soil type in North Texas, and why it’s important to have water, let’s dive into why below average rainfall in January is bad for your foundation.
Rainfall trends and why you should be concerned
According to the data collected by Weather.gov the average rainfall in January over the past 10 years for the DFW area is 2.9 inches. As it currently sits on the day this blog was posted we are at only .05 inches of rain for the month.
If this trend continues we expect to see an increase of homes needing foundation repair. Additional steps will need to be taken to protect your home’s foundation from damage. If you are seeing any of these signs around your home you need to act fast.
Exterior signs you need to act fast
We have talked about our soil type and the current trajectory in rainfall. Now let’s look at signs that your home is at risk and you should be monitoring it carefully.
- Soil Shrinkage- When looking around your home’s foundation if you notice a gap between the concrete and the soil, or if the ground is cracking.
- Soil Erosion- You want 8–6 inches of concrete showing from the base of your exterior sheeting. (Brick or Siding) If the soil is lower you soil may not be able to contain enough moisture to keep the house stable.
- Brick Cracks- Cracks that form in the brick or mortar are signs the foundation is moving. Some cracking is normal due to our soil type, but it is important to know if you are seeing cracks when your foundation is experiencing movement.
- Frieze Board Separation- When looking at a traditional brick home, there are small trim boards that wrap around the top layer of brick. If you see separation on the corners of the house, then your home is moving and may need foundation repair.
- Window and Expansion Joint Separation- If your home has a brick exterior then most likely you have expansion joints. Expansion joints are long caulking lines that divide sections of bricks. These are installed to limit brick cracks in the case of foundation movement. These joints should be nice and tight with no separation. If you notice separation typically at the top, you need to get your foundation evaluated ASAP by a trustworthy foundation expert like Stratum Foundation Repair. The same goes for the caulking around your windows.
- Large Trees- Trees are the #1 cause of foundation problems in North Texas. A large tree can drink up to 150 gallons of water a day. Mix a large tree with low rainfall and it’s a dangerous combination for your foundation.
Steps you can take to increase the water around your foundation
The very first thing you need to do is to increase water. This can be as easy as running sprinklers longer. However most sprinkler systems do not provide enough water around the foundation. This is when additional steps must be taken.
It is recommended that a soaker hose or drip line be installed around the base of the foundation. The hose should be placed 8–12 inches away from the slab. Placing the hose away from the slab opposed to right next to the slab allows all the soil surrounding the house to absorb the water.
Having the soaker hose installed by an expert like Stratum, will insure the correct actions are taken to protect your home.
A common question we get asked daily is how often should I be watering the foundation. This is a tough question for us to answer as several factors go into it and is unique to every home. The best rule of thumb is to use your soil as a guide.
If you notice the ground cracking or pulling away from the side of the foundation, then you know you are not watering enough. With the little rainfall we get and the extreme temps, it is very hard to over water the foundation. Typical signs of over watering would be moss growing on the soil or slab.
Now that you know how to water your foundation we need to look at the soil level. As mentioned earlier in the blog soil level is critical to a successful watering plan. If you notice that the soil is lower than 6–8 inches than your exterior siding, then you need to add soil.
It is important to not to add too much soil as this could allow water to penetrate the home.
So you have the soil level correct and you have developed a watering plan now let’s tackle the trees. Tree roots typically travel as far as the canopy. However if the tree has ever been trimmed then it is hard to determine how far the roots really are. Every house has at least one tree in the front yard.
This is typically why we see the front of houses needing repair. It is recommended by Structural Engineers that root barriers be installed to prevent the tree roots from pulling moisture away from the foundation.
If you have a tree in your yard then you need a root barrier installed. Contact Stratum Foundation repair today for your free estimate.
How this all ties back to January’s rainfall
As you can see water is crucial to maintaining your foundation. If we do not get enough rain to keep the ground saturated, then you will need to supplement the water. Since temperatures are cold now people think you do not need to water.
When in reality temperatures only speed up the process and do not stop it. In conclusion even if it’s cold outside you need to be monitoring your foundation for the signs mentioned throughout the blog. If you notice any of the signs then your first course of action needs to be water.