How to maintain your foundation: 6 things every Alabama homeowner should know
When it comes to maintaining your foundation (basement, slab or crawl space) during periods of hot, dry weather, watering your foundation as a home protection practice can help you avoid foundation repair. Here are 6 things every property owner should know.
Setting up a simple foundation inspection and watering routine is easy and can help you prevent costly repairs down the line.
A quick review of foundation basics
To reduce a complex subject down to one sentence, a good foundation needs solid contact with stable soil to properly support your house. Because cyclical changes in moisture can cause soil to expand and contract throughout the year, it makes sense that consistently managing the water around your house is vital for foundation health.
In general, you want to keep an eye on these three important factors:
- A proper five-percent negative slope all around your house
- Gutters and drains that are in good repair and direct water away from your foundation
- Protection from tree roots that can crack or displace foundation elements, or open the way for excess water to infiltrate and undermine your foundation
Regardless of your foundation type, a certain amount of settling over time is normal. The key is to do what you can to ensure that your foundation is making consistent contact with the surrounding soil so that its load-bearing capacity isn’t compromised or uneven.
Moisture plays an important part in this process. If the soil is too wet it can soften or erode to the point that parts of your foundation will be unsupported. It can also lead to leaky basements. Whereas, soil that’s too dry can pull away from the perimeter of your foundation, leaving those portions not only partially unsupported, but also exposed to other kinds of future damage.
6 things to know about watering your foundation during the notorious hot, dry Alabama summer months
In the hottest, driest parts of the year, the soil around your foundation may have a tendency to dry out and pull away, leaving below-grade portions exposed. The easiest way to test for this is to dig a small hole a foot or two deep at a few sample points around your foundation. A handful of dirt from the bottom of these test holes should ball up and hold together.
If the soil crumbles in your hand, the ground is too dry. If you only get runny, shapeless mud, the ground is too wet. You can also see if there are exposed surface areas where the earth has pulled away from the grade line around your foundation. Too much moisture requires some drainage or grading work. Too little moisture can be corrected with simple watering.
Here are the 6 main things you should know about starting your own foundation watering routine
- Any method that works for you will get the job done
- You can water with a standard timed soaker hose from the home improvement store
- You can water by hand using a regular spray nozzle
- You can plant perimeter shrubs in a properly sloped bed and just water them normally
- Watering for 15 to 30 minutes a day should maintain optimal soil moisture
- Foundation repair warranties may require homeowner maintenance to stay in force
Maintaining consistent year-round moisture (not too dry, not too wet) in the soil around your foundation is the overall goal. Any one of the methods outlined here (the shrubbery scheme, a timed soaker hose, or hand watering) can be easily incorporated in your existing maintenance routine with minimal time and effort. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true when it comes to protecting your investment in your home.
In this post, our focus has been mainly on protecting your foundation during the hot, dry days of summer, but it’s also important to stay vigilant for excess moisture as well. During a rainy spell, make sure to look around the perimeter of your house for pooling water that could seep into or under your foundation. Check to make sure that your gutters and downspouts are in good working order and that grading is intact and leading away from the house as it should.
If you run into any chronic issues that make you suspect you have foundation damage, give SouthernDry a call. We offer free estimates and specialize in anything-and-everything related to foundation repair. When it comes to foundation problems, you can count on SouthernDry. You local – Guardians of The Foundation!