Watering Your Foundation-Here’s the Why and How

drysoil

Earthquakes are not the only source of cracks in your home but just the latest threat.  This winter has been pretty dry, so I’ve been out watering around my foundation on a regular basis to stay ahead of the coming spring and summer heat.  If foundation concerns are not addressed BEFORE they start, it can cost 10’s of thousands of dollars to repair them.  To protect your foundation, you must water your foundation.  Even though most sprinkler systems will help, most were designed to spray water away from the house.  To complicate it further, many cities are enforcing landscape watering restrictions.  Probably the most important factor associated with watering foundations is to do it 12 months a year.  It is very import to maintain a constant moisture content to retain soil  consistency.  Even if you only have minor issues (sticking doors, squeaky floors), managing the porosity of soil will even out the issues for a more stable foundation.

How to Water a Foundation:  There are several methods.

  1. Hand Watering:  I don’t recommend this method, but it can work. It can be difficult to consistently apply the same amount of water around the entire foundation with a systematic approach.
  2. Soaker Hoses:  By far the most popular,  “soaker hoses” are easily attached to a water outlet and draped around the foundation of the house.  These come in 25 and 50 foot length and can be connected in a series.  Try to place them within about 6 inches of the foundation.  (TIP:  Keep bare landscaped areas covered with mulch.  This too will assist in retaining the moisture content around the structure.  Covering the soaker hose with the mulch is acceptable.  You will need to inspect these regularly as I have found they deteriorate fairly quickly (less than 3-5 years).   Additionally, neighboring visitors (rats, mice, raccoons and such) have found a liking to chew on hoses, in turn puncturing them  and causing excessive water to come out in one place.  Once broken, I have not seen a good way to repair them, so you will have to replace the hose.
  3.  Drip Lines:  These hoses are designed with drip emitters in the hose every 12 inches.  You can deploy them in the same method as mentioned for the soaker hoses, but the hose material is a bit more stiff.  Staking them will help as they do not like to lay flat to the ground.  You can purchase the hose in bulk from the Orange Box store of Sprinkler Warehouse.  You will need to also purchase inter-hose connectors as well as a way to connect to your water source.
  4. Regardless of the method of disbursement, doing it consistently is just as important as the watering itself.Take a look at Watering Your Foundation to see a semi-permanent installation guide to foundation watering.

Source of above material:  HomeownerBOB.com

Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
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