The summer has ended, Labor Day has come and gone, the kids are back in school, and the temperatures have dropped below 90 degrees. The days when the weather is sucking water out of the ground are over, or are they? Most homeowners assume that they no longer need to water their foundations and turn off their soaker hoses. In fact, when the fall remains dry, watering remains essential. Often the trees keep their leaves, and so are continuing to use lots of water, into mid-November. So far this year, in north Texas, for August, September, and October, rainfall is below normal, temperatures have been above normal, humidity has been low, and the trees are just starting to drop their leaves. Many areas in north Texas have not received significant rainfall in over 8 weeks. These are all conditions that mean the ground is continuing to lose water. To prevent foundation settling, foundation watering should continue.
Although the daily rate at which water is being lost has declined (courtesy of lower temperatures) the cumulative loss as the dry conditions is considerable. In addition, although year-to-date rainfall is normal, much of that rainfall took place in the first half of the year. As a result, local soils have dried out to a depth of many feet.
As the fall continues, if it does not rain, the soils will continue to dry. If the drought extends into the winter, say as late as December or January (which is normally a dry month) then there is a high potential for significant foundation movement. Without rain, for homes on expansive clay soils, without proper watering, it is possible for several inches of settlement to occur over the next four months.
One simple way to decide on whether or not to water is to look at the vegetation. Pay special attention to native plants in areas that are not being watered. If the leaves of vegetation in such areas are curling up or wilting from a lack of water, the soils have dried out and your foundation most likely needs to be watered as well. To keep the soils under your home moist, you need to keep watering until there are steady fall and or winter rains. Right now, it is a good idea to be watered several times a week. Using soaker hoses, you should be watering for 30 minutes each time.
Remember, sprinkler systems are designed to spray water over a wide area where water will soak in a few inches. Your foundation needs to have the water content of the soils maintained at a constant level down five feet or more. As a result, watering systems that work for your grass will not work for your foundation. For foundations, the best option is soaker hoses. For more details on watering, go to FoundationRepairs.com and see the page on foundation watering.
Because of the continuing dry weather, this fall has been busy for most foundation repair contractors. Contractors are seeing many homes that have settled because of dry soils. For homes with trees, where perimeter piers have already been installed, contractors are seeing interior settlement. The trees are continuing to draw water from the ground. The perimeter piers protect the foundation from the settlement at the edge but can not protect the interiors. Remember, protect your home and water your foundation.
If you think you are having foundation problems, call us at Advanced Foundation Repair. Our evaluations include preparing a foundation elevation survey, a scale diagram, and a contour diagram, and are free! The diagram can serve as benchmark data that can be used to evaluate future movement. Give Advanced a call at 214-333-0003 or visit our website at foundationrepairs.com.