Do you water your foundation?
I work with a lot of relocation into the Dallas area. With that, it takes a lot to educate someone not only about our market, but also about how to take care of their properties.
Most of the North Texas area is built on Clay Soil. It's usually Red Clay, but Black Clay is also common. Either way, it's Clay and Clay is a very interesting and unique material to build on. The Clay is constantly expanding and contracting. That means your house is constantly expanding and contracting. With this movement, you can get many cosmetic cracks on the interior along with the exterior. These cosmetic cracks will eventually turn into structural cracks if not taken care of.
The goal is to create as little movement as possible. In order to do this, you must water your foundation year round. What do I mean by watering the foundation? You need to keep a consistent amount of water around your slab (or even pier and beam foundation if you're in an older home). This is accomplished in a couple of ways. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, as long as you can see the water reaches up to the house, you should be fine. If you are manually watering with a sprinkler, make sure you get all over and not just the front and back yards because that's where your main grass is. You need to be watering the sides of your house too.
Where I'm getting the freaked out look from people is when I mention placing soaker hoses around the foundation. For the past couple of years, North Texas has been in a drought and we've been put on watering restrictions, which I've blogged about before. With the restrictions, most areas could only water once a week, while a select few areas were allowed twice a week. With the heat of the summer, this is not enough moisture to keep around your foundation for consistency throughout the year. Soaker hoses, since the water goes directly into the ground, are allowed everyday, though your regular watering is not allowed. Soaker hoses, to cover an average sized house, will cost approximately $50 and it's a good $50 to spend. These hoses, usually black, should be placed 12-18 inches away from the house. You do not want to put them right up against the slab because then too much water could get stuck under the slab and the house could rise. You're just looking for consistent moisture around the foundation. Using the soaker hoses about 10-15 minutes 3-4 days a week in the summer, and maybe only once or twice a week in the winter will help you save thousands on future foundation repair in the future. It's a simple, easy fix for hot, dry summers, and there's no excuse for a bad foundation when it's part of everyday house maintenance when you're a home owner.
Yes, we're having close to record rainfall this year, but we're just catching up with what we need. Our lawns are very green right now, whereas last year, everyone's looked like we were in a desert. But, YES, we're still on water restrictions. And the soaker hoses are for house maintenance, not just using them one year and not another.
Do you Water your Foundation in your neck of the woods?