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Here is some info. The main purpose is to attempt to stabilize the soil. There are differing opinions on the effectiveness.

Expansive soils act like a sponge. As they absorb water, they swell and as they lose water they shrink. Soils tend to dry out (and shrink) during the summer and to absorb water (and swell) during the winter and spring.

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 and/or foundation, most people do not consider the movement to be a foundation repair problem. If the up and down movement of a house foundation always returns the house 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.

If a homeowner wishes 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 house foundation constant, foundation movement can often be stopped. This has been written to assist the homeowner in performing a simple foundation repair preventive maintenance program.

The goal of a foundation repair preventive maintenance watering program is to maintain a constant level of moisture in the soil under the house and foundation. The best way to water a foundation is to place a soaker hose from one to two feet from the edge of the 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 (the thick portion of the foundation that is under the exterior walls). 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.

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. Watering should supply enough water to keep the moisture content in the soil under the foundation constant. If the amount of water applied is only enough to keep the surface damp, the watering program will not work. Obviously, the homeowner is the only one who can weigh the benefits of controlling foundation movement versus the increased size of the water bill.

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Sounds like trolling to me.

If it's a serious question, it probably came from the curriculum at a home inspection school, or some linthead associate editor at a 3rd tier home improvement magazine who heard it at the community college course on home inspection.

It is true that a tree can suck enough water out of the soil to cause dessication and settlement. If that is happening, remove the tree, or enjoy a refreshing beverage as your house tries to find a subterranean route to China. If it succeeds, immediately begin massing troops at the opening to the hole, and get the jump on them Commie bastards.

"If the soil loses enough load-bearing capacity, the house will sink into the ground."

I'm going to tattoo that on my forehead backwards, so when I look in the mirror in the morning, I'll remember to tell my folks to have a licensed competent house watering service provide anti-subsidence protocols upon the load bearing soil strata.

I'm sorry....... I'm kinda tickled by the thought of God fearing Americans worrying themselves sick about their house sinking into the ground. This could be the perfect conundrum to supplant the mold delerium.

FTR, put me in the "differing opinions upon the effectiveness" group.

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We've had one severe and one not-so-severe drought in the past ten years or so, and the local newspaper printed articles that recommended, and included instructions for, watering around foundations.

The logic was that the expansive clay would dry out, contract, and allow foundations to settle slightly, perhaps an 1/8th to a 1/4 inch. The uneven movement would exponentially increase vertically and cause cracking within veneer resting on the brick ledges.

In real time, during the severe drought, cracks and downward deflection occurred within brick veneer in many areas around town. It won't surprise you to hear that I fielded a few calls from former clients, some of whom wanted to point bony fingers of blame in my direction.

But when it comes to watering a house? I don't know what the porosity of our soil is, but imagine how much water would be required to saturate the ground surrouding a foundation and the footings supporting it? I wouldn't even hazard a guess, but wouldn't thousands of gallons sound reasonable?

And . . . even if you could get the moisture where you wanted it, how in the world would you distribute it evenly and slowly enough to prevent causing more problems than you were hoping to solve?

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Originally posted by Bain

And . . . even if you could get the moisture where you wanted it, how in the world would you distribute it evenly and slowly enough to prevent causing more problems than you were hoping to solve?

Exactly. While I shouldn't make fun of subsidence due to trees/drought/whatever, it's something that happens when things go wrong with the weather and folks build wrong for the soil conditions.

"Instructions" for watering a house presupposes one is able to accurately forecast weather patterns and total rainfall for the year, specific soil, types, conditions and densities around and under the house, groundwater movement, and Lordy knows what else. Then, as Bain suggests, how the heck does one evenly distribute the water, and what happens when something goes wrong? I'm sure there's de-watering instructions out there somewhere.......

For God's sake, let the thing settle, find its repose, patch what needs patching, and live with it.

Engineered lumber assemblies present real problems with settlement, but now it's getting rather rarified and I'll someone who wants a new house built out of glue and sawdust decide for themselves what they want to do about it.

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Hi,

My memory is fuzzy on this, but I remember that a few years ago there was a big stink down Phoenix way because they were going through a draught and people weren't allowed to water their lawns. Seems that as the ground in AZ, which is mostly expansive clays, was drying out, all sorts of pretty severe structural problems were showing up all over the place that had never shown up in years during which there were rains and there was plenty of water for watering the lawns.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Catherine,

The various postings would indicate there are contrary opinions about watering your house. I see you are in Texas and Richard Stanley is also from Texas. I'd suggest you go to Richard's private email on this forum and shoot him the question. Soil conditions vary wildly across the country.

Here in Mid-Michigan we routinely deal with too much water, as 99% of houses have basements.

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Originally posted by Richard Stanley

Here is some info. The main purpose is to attempt to stabilize the soil. There are differing opinions on the effectiveness.

Expansive soils act like a sponge. As they absorb water, they swell and as they lose water they shrink. Soils tend to dry out (and shrink) during the summer and to absorb water (and swell) during the winter and spring.

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 and/or foundation, most people do not consider the movement to be a foundation repair problem. If the up and down movement of a house foundation always returns the house 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.

If a homeowner wishes 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 house foundation constant, foundation movement can often be stopped. This has been written to assist the homeowner in performing a simple foundation repair preventive maintenance program.

The goal of a foundation repair preventive maintenance watering program is to maintain a constant level of moisture in the soil under the house and foundation. The best way to water a foundation is to place a soaker hose from one to two feet from the edge of the 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 (the thick portion of the foundation that is under the exterior walls). 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.

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. Watering should supply enough water to keep the moisture content in the soil under the foundation constant. If the amount of water applied is only enough to keep the surface damp, the watering program will not work. Obviously, the homeowner is the only one who can weigh the benefits of controlling foundation movement versus the increased size of the water bill.

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Originally posted by Richard Stanley

Here is some info. The main purpose is to attempt to stabilize the soil. There are differing opinions on the effectiveness.

Expansive soils act like a sponge. As they absorb water, they swell and as they lose water they shrink. Soils tend to dry out (and shrink) during the summer and to absorb water (and swell) during the winter and spring.

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 and/or foundation, most people do not consider the movement to be a foundation repair problem. If the up and down movement of a house foundation always returns the house 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.

If a homeowner wishes 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 house foundation constant, foundation movement can often be stopped. This has been written to assist the homeowner in performing a simple foundation repair preventive maintenance program.

The goal of a foundation repair preventive maintenance watering program is to maintain a constant level of moisture in the soil under the house and foundation. The best way to water a foundation is to place a soaker hose from one to two feet from the edge of the 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 (the thick portion of the foundation that is under the exterior walls). 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.

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. Watering should supply enough water to keep the moisture content in the soil under the foundation constant. If the amount of water applied is only enough to keep the surface damp, the watering program will not work. Obviously, the homeowner is the only one who can weigh the benefits of controlling foundation movement versus the increased size of the water bill.

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Originally posted by Les

Catherine,

The various postings would indicate there are contrary opinions about watering your house. I see you are in Texas and Richard Stanley is also from Texas. I'd suggest you go to Richard's private email on this forum and shoot him the question. Soil conditions vary wildly across the country.

Here in Mid-Michigan we routinely deal with too much water, as 99% of houses have basements.

True enough. There's certainly differences, and I shouldn't make fun, although in the case of house watering, I just don't get it. It smacks of quackery, i.e., measures applied without adequate scientific and engineering overview.

By the time such principles were applied, I can imagine a lot of other options.

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http://www.foundationrepair.org/

This area, as well as others around the country, has unstable clay soil. The clay acts like a sponge - when it is wet - it expands. When it is dry - it shrinks. Everything that is in it, on it, around it moves. That is fine, as long as everything moves the same way at the same time. When it doesn't, that is differential movement - causing millions of dollars of repairs. Many, if not most, houses that have been built in the last 30 or so years have experienced differential movement to some extent. There are several reasons for this. Developers and builders were not held to properly preping the site - ie; compacting with select fill..proper grading, etc.. I forgot to mention - these houses are on slabs - we don't have basements. About the same time, they started using post tension cables in the slabs instead of the time tested rebar. After the 30,000 lbs of tension was locked into the slabs, they acted like a brittle cookie - it didn't and doesn't take much movement to break them. The rebar slabs just laid there and did not get broken with the same frequency. About the only thing that caused problems for the rebar slabs was a water leak under the slab that could cause it to heave.

Many of the newer houses have watering systems built in as 1 or 2 stations of the yard sprinker systems. Many others have drip systems attached to hose bibbs.

The repair for the broken slabs is to install piers under them. Why not do that in the first place - you ask. Money. Same reason they use tension cable instead of rebar. Some custom home buyers demand rebar - and pay more for it. The main difference is labor.

Are there procedures available to circumvent the failure probablility? Sure. They all involve more money on the front end.

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  • 4 months later...

Warmer, drier summers are on the cards, and with dry winters reducing the amount of water stored in UK reservoirs etc, there's only one logical outcome - water shortages and hosepipe bans for gardeners. So what can you do to ensure your garden grows in summer and you reduce your water dependency?

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Do what folks in every dry climate do; collect water during the rainy season in a cistern.

There's a lot of plastic one's available. Most of the organic gardeners I know use those black plastic 50 gallon models. I'm getting a couple this Spring so I don't pay the municipality for watering my garden.

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Originally posted by Bishop

Warmer, drier summers are on the cards, and with dry winters reducing the amount of water stored in UK reservoirs etc, there's only one logical outcome - water shortages and hosepipe bans for gardeners. So what can you do to ensure your garden grows in summer and you reduce your water dependency?

Don't plant rice . . .

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Rain barrels work great. I installed three last year. I plan to add a couple of more. I will be able to do all my garden watering without the use of municipal water. You also save twice. Here in Chicago you pay for water and then pay sewage based on how much water you used.

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