Foundation Maintenance Program Mark Elliott, owner of Yellow Hat Inspections in Celina, TX http://yellowhatinspections.com
Soils of the North Texas area contain highly active clays, which exhibit a high degree of expansion when wet and shrinkage when dry. This situation can result in severe vertical and/or lateral displacement of supported structures. Repeated variations in soil moisture content cause differential movement and undue stress to structural elements of a building, resulting in broken and unleveled floors, masonry cracking and misalignment of doors and windows. Consistent soil moisture content is key to controlling these problems.
Maintain soil gradients around perimeter areas with a proper slope away from the foundation for a distance of three to four feet. Soil should be a predominantly clay material which is capable of shedding surface water. Sandy loam or other porous material should not be used.
A swale or drainage channel is normally included between structures. This feature should never be altered by the addition of fill material or blocked by construction of landscaping beds, structures, etc.
Soil levels against the concrete perimeter grade beam should not be less than two inches from the brick ledge for a slab type foundation.
While not always absolutely necessary, gutters and down-spouts can help in implementing a moisture control program.
Down-spouts should have extensions and splash blocks to reduce erosion and should discharge onto the ground, at least, two feet away from the structure.
Flower bed edging or curbs near the foundation may trap water. These beds should be filled with soil to prevent ponding or in some cases area drains may be necessary to prevent ponding.
Large trees or shrubs can consume tremendous amounts of water and should not be planted next to the foundation. When planting these items, be careful that roots of mature trees do not extend beneath the foundation.
Whenever cracking of soil occurs or soil is noted to be pulling away from the foundation, it is an immediate signal that soil moisture levels are too low. Water should be added in a slow, systematic manner using an automated sprinkler system or a soaker hose placed 18 in. from the foundation with holes facing downward. Water should be applied until runoff is observed. During hot weather, this process should be repeated four to five times weekly – less during winter months. In summary, remember that a consistent moisture control program will minimize soil movements, resulting in less stress and longer service life of the structure. Mark Elliott, owner of Yellow Hat Inspections in Celina, TX http://yellowhatinspections.com 972 832 3460