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Foundation settling and shifting can be caused by building a structure on expanding or contracting soil, improperly compacted fill soils, or from poor or erroneous maintenance of the earth around the foundation. Whatever the cause of a settling foundation, this settlement can ruin a building’s value and even render it unsafe or unlivable.
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 or causing major damage to the cosmetic features of the home, most people do not consider the movement to be a foundation repair problem. This up and down movement can cause damage to the home which tends to 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 if caught early. 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, which allows the water to soak evenly into the soil. The hose should never be placed against the foundation because the water will run down the side of the foundation and accumulate to the bottom of the perimeter grade beam (the thick portion of the foundation that is under the exterior walls and throughout the interior when needed for supporting the load).
If there is a lot of water accumulated, then the soil can lose some of its load-bearing capacity and 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. To test the soil, you would get a handful and see if you can roll it into a ball in your hand. If it stays together, like clay, there is sufficient moisture; if it crumbles, there is not.
RS Foundations is a full-service foundation repair company that was established in 1989. We have serviced thousands of both residential and commercial customers in DFW for over 25 years. We strive to provide the highest quality of service at the best possible price.
We offer a free, no-obligation evaluation and can typically provide a written estimate on the spot if any repairs are needed. It's important to find out early on if the signs of settlement is normal or if it is a sign of a serious problem. Evaluations only take about an hour; so call us today to set up an appointment with one of our trained technicians.