Home inspections are very important.  Not only when you are in the process of buying a home, or selling a home, but it is also necessary to have a home inspection, where you’ve been living for years.  Early home inspections can save you, just in case the house has any problems that could become costly surprises down the road.

You can hire home inspection services to get expert care, but you can also do this on your own.  Inspection includes all the structural elements and systems of the home such as framing, roof and attic, foundation, walls, electrical system, plumbing system, heating and air conditioning systems, kitchen, bathrooms, etc.

After all those home inspections, you were able to identify which should be fixed and how to maintain them.  On the maintenance, don’t ever forget the FOUNDATION  of your house.  This is usually being missed, thinking that it should always be stable.

Your home has to have a strong and stable foundation for your family and home’s safety.  A lot of things can happen if this is not taken good care of.

Summer season or extended dry periods can cause shifting or cracking in the foundation of homes.  Soils are like sponge, they swell when they absorb water and they shrink when they lose water.  Soils tend to dry out and shrink during the summer and absorb water and swell during the winter and spring.  When soil becomes dry, the soil contracts, and the foundation sinks or shifts.

As the soil under a house shrinks and swells with the seasons, the house and foundation will move up and down.  As long as the foundation movement is not great enough to damage the house or the foundation, it is not a problem.  And if the up and down movement of a foundation always returns the foundation to its original level position, then damage to the house and foundation may appear and disappear on a regular basis as the seasons change.  This will cause a lot of possible damages to your home.  The causes include cracks on the wall, pipes breaking, chimneys shifting, and brick veneer cracks.  These can be very dangerous.  But this can be avoided.

You can protect your home’s foundation before anything happens by watering the foundation during hot or dry seasons.  The goal of foundation watering is to maintain the soil under the house and foundation in a constant level of moisture level that is neither wet and muddy nor dry and cracked.  It is best to have the level of moisture maintained to several feet deep under ground.  You can perform simple foundation preventive maintenance program on your own.  We have some of the methods or ways that can be done without hiring the experts.

Walk around the house and look where the soil is against the foundation.  Observe and see if there’s a gap between the soil and foundation.  If there’s no gap, it means the soil moisture is good.  If there is a gap, you need to water the ground around the foundation until the soil gets enough water and swells to cover or close the gap.

If you wish to stop seasonal house and foundation damage, the first course of action should be to follow a controlled watering program.  By keeping the moisture content of the soil under the foundation constant, foundation movement can often be stopped.  There are ways on how to keep soil from drying and shrinking away from your foundation.

Hand Watering – This can be the simplest and easiest way of watering your foundation but it is not recommended.  It is difficult to consistently apply the same amount of water around the entire foundation with a systematic approach.

Planting – One way is to plant around the foundation.  Plants can protect the foundation by holding the soil and moderating the temperature of the soil.  Plants provide shades so that the soil will not be directly getting heat from the sun and keeping the heat from evaporating water from the soil.  They transpire moisture into the air creating a cooling effect.  The plants’ roots will hold the soil so to avoid soil sliding away from the house.  Plants need water to grow and as you water and grow the plants, you are also watering the soil around the foundation.  The most efficient way of watering is to water in short several cycles instead of watering in one long cycle.

Irrigation system – Another way is to create a dedicated irrigation zone around the house for watering foundation.  It is best if you have an irrigation system at home.  Check your city’s Drought and Water Emergency Plans to know what foundation watering system will they allow.  This is an alternative method in areas where there is no planting to help keep the moisture in the soil.

Drip Irrigation – Other option is to water the foundation by attaching a drip irrigation to an outdoor faucet with a timer.  Install drip irrigation around the foundation by connecting to an outdoor faucet.  Remember that drip irrigation works with low pressure so you should also use a pressure reducer when attaching to the faucet.  Make sure you have a backflow preventer on the faucet to stop water from going back into the house pipes if there is a huge pressure draw in the house while the drip irrigation is running.  For more use, you can attach a faucet splitter so the faucet can be used not only for irrigation.  Also add a drip irrigation timer or a faucet timer to set the start time and running time.  The tubing should be placed 8 to 18 inches from the foundation.

Soaker Hoses – Or, use soaker hoses to water foundations.  Place soaker hose around the perimeter of the house 12 to 18 inches away from the foundation.  Soaker hose also needs a backflow preventer just like the drip irrigation and it also works with low pressure.  Usually, soaker hoses already have a pressure restrictor at the faucet end which prevents water high pressure.  You have to run the soaker hose for several hours for the soil to get enough moisture.

The best way to use a soaker hose is to bury a soaker hose, 3 inches deep and 6 inches from the edge of your foundation.  Placing the hose a short distance from the foundation allows the water to soak into the soil evenly.

The hose should not be placed against the foundation.  When soil has dried and cracked, water can travel along the cracks for several feet in all directions.  If the soil around your foundation is dried and cracked, then water placed next to the foundation will run through the cracks and accumulate at the bottom of the grade beam.  In some cases, an accumulation of water in the soil at the base of a foundation can cause the soil to lose some of its load bearing capacity.  If the soil loses enough load bearing capacity, the house will sink into the ground.

The following video is from the Tom Tynan Show.  It is another take on how to water your foundation by using soaker hoses.  They’ve got some list of materials or tools needed and some tips.  Take a look at this short video:

Obviously, it is necessary to water more during hot, dry weather and less during cold, damp weather.  The amount of water required to keep a foundation stable during the summer can be surprisingly large.  A single large tree can remove as much as 150 gallons of water, or almost 20 cubic feet of water, from the soil each day.  Shrubs and other plants can also remove large quantities of water.  During persistent hot dry weather, it may be necessary to water a foundation daily.

Things To Remember:

  • Watering should supply enough water to keep the moisture content in the soil under the foundation constant.
  • The hose should not be placed against the foundation.
  • Water more during hot, dry weather and less during cold, damp weather.
  • Check and comply with your city’s current rules and restrictions for water use.
  • Run the hose or drips when evaporation is minimal, such as before dawn or after sunset.
  • Run the hose or drips at a rate that allows the water to trickle into the soil, not pool or run off.
  • Water your foundations 12 months a year.
  • In a severe drought, you may need to consider installing root barriers between large hardwood trees, especially oaks, and your foundation.

Do not over water your foundation.  This can cause the edge or exterior of your foundation to be raised higher than the interior of your foundation.  You will know if you have over watered the foundation if the soil sounds wet, or squishes as you walk on it, or you easily leave impressions in the soil.  You have way over watered if you see soil oozing out where it meets the foundation wall.

If foundation concerns are not addressed before they start, it can cost 10’s of thousands of dollars to repair them.  To protect your foundation, you must water your foundation.