Avoiding Dallas Foundation Problems

It’s just a hunch but I’m guessing most folks don’t move to North Texas for the fine clay soil? The lifestyle, the buzz, the scenery, sure; but not the clay soil, the main cause of most Dallas foundation problems.

What’s So Bad About Clay?

If your house is built on clay soil, a real likelihood if you live in the DFW Metroplex, then the home’s foundation is floating around on a sponge. The sponge-like surface of clay soil can change vastly depending on whether it’s wet or dry. A lot of Dallas foundation problems are caused by the shrinking and swelling of the clay soil because of the moisture level.

I won’t go into the science – you can get on the internet and find plenty of research based studies if you’d really like to know. As a homeowner, you’ll mainly be interested in keeping those pesky Dallas foundation problems away from your home.

Clay soil is considered “active” because of its reaction to moisture content. Dallas foundation problems are caused by the process of the soil shrinking as it dries and expanding as its wet, creating movement. But predicting how much the soil is going to move when the moisture content changes is anyone’s guess.

Where Dallas foundation problems start to damage houses is when the foundation wants to curve or twist because of uneven moisture around and under it. New building techniques such as waffle slabs are incredibly strong and won’t bend or crack under pressure even if the whole foundation moves.

Unfortunately, for most of us, the majority of North Texas houses have standard slab or pier-and-beam foundations – the norm for Dallas foundation problems. These traditional foundations are vulnerable to the damaging shifts caused by the clay content and the amount of moisture in the soil.

Can Watering Help?

Texas engineers specializing in soil mechanics (relating to construction) advise that watering the foundation of a house can be useful. By a program of controlled watering, Dallas foundation problems that cause damage to plumbing, exterior and interior walls, structural members, and the foundation itself, can be prevented.

Even when outdoor watering restrictions are in place, the value of protecting a home by watering the foundation is recognized by local water districts and utilities. You will have to check your municipality’s policies on their website as times and type of delivery can differ. Usually, drip irrigation systems and soaker hoses are allowed although different foundation watering rules may apply in other areas. For more information, you can check www.savedallaswater.com

The reasoning behind watering a foundation is to create consistent moisture content underneath and around the slab, never allowing it to get very dry or very wet. Moderate moisture means watering year round, even in winter

Soaker hoses work very well to prevent Dallas foundation problems but the system has to have good drainage, moving excess water away from the foundation. Other factors impact on foundations like water collecting around downspouts during rain, so rainwater must also be led away from the foundations.

Problem Plantings

Are trees planted so close to the house that roots go under a slab foundation? Trees are a bigger problem than a lot of folk realize. Think about it? To survive, a tree has to get enough moisture; thirsty roots will seek out sources of water wherever they can.

When tree roots invade a damp patch under a foundation, they quickly suck it dry. Roots can’t do an about-turn and march off elsewhere – that bunch of roots will die there under the slab. Eventually, they’ll leave a big gap as they begin to decompose.

Meanwhile, the tree will have sent out a new batch of roots, also looking for water. If these find a patch under the foundation, the process begins again. Too many gaps under the foundation and the spaces underneath can collapse.

The best way to avoid tree problems for your foundation is plant trees a suitable distance from the house. Different types of trees behave in different ways, so before you plant, talk to a certified arborist or horticulturist. If you have trees in your property that you’d like to keep, avoid Dallas foundation problems by installing a root barrier.

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