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Archive for Monday, September 3, 2012

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Fix-It Chick: Water a home’s foundation

September 3, 2012

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Excessive heat and dry weather can wreak havoc on a home’s foundation.

Lack of moisture causes soils to crack and shrink, leaving the foundation unevenly supported. As soil moisture levels change, foundations can shift and crack.

Foundation cracks themselves may not be a serious problem, but if the cracks are allowed to grow, forming gaps, and the home shifts inconsistently, the integrity of the structure can come into question.

Maintaining a consistent level of moisture in the soil that abuts the foundation is the best defense against damage. During extended periods of dryness, watering soils around the perimeter of the home will help reduce foundation movement.

Step 1: Inspect the soil around the home’s foundation. Cracked soil and gaps between the soil and the house are indicators that the soil is too dry and the foundation needs to be watered. Absence of these signs is a good indicator that watering can be kept to a minimum.

Step 2: Choose a method of watering that assures the soil receives an average of one inch of water each week. Manual watering is effective but time consuming. Watering with any type of above-ground sprinkling system works well but allows water to be lost to evaporation. Using a standard soaker hose to water the foundation is the best option for most applications.

Step 3: To manually water a foundation, begin outside at one corner of the home. Turn the hose on and stand about two feet from the foundation. Allow the water to run on the ground toward the home for about 15 seconds. Move 5 feet over and water for another 15 seconds. Continue the process until the entire perimeter has been watered. Repeat the process every few days, depending on the severity of the drought and the conditions of the soil.

Step 4: When using regular or in-ground sprinkling systems, adjust sprinklers to moisten the soil within 6 inches of the foundation. Do not allow water to hit the exterior walls. Water running down the walls can exacerbate the problem rather than alleviate it.

Step 5: For a carefree method of watering, run a standard soaker hose approximately 12 inches to 18 inches away from the foundation wall, along the perimeter of the home. Allow the soaker hose to seep for 15 minutes twice a day until adequate hydration is achieved.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at go@ljworld.com.

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