Oh no! You’re pretty sure you have foundation problems developing or early signs of foundation settlement. You’re wondering if it’s possible to repair or prevent further your foundation settlement problems by doing some watering. Does watering your foundation work or is it a myth?
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been inspecting and repairing home foundations since 1985 and have been asked this question countless times. Yes, we are in the business of repairing foundations, and we don’t fix them with watering. This is not because we just want people to use our repair methods instead of doing some DIY watering, it’s because watering is not going to actually fix or even prevent things.
This article will explain what watering can and can’t do for your home, and explain why foundation watering is one of many myths about slab foundation repair. You will probably always find articles that disagree with this stance, but that won’t stop us from trying to set the record straight on foundation watering.
Will Watering My Foundation Prevent Settlement?
Settlement happens. There’s usually nothing you can do to stop it that is guaranteed to work. Sure, watering your foundation *MIGHT* help to delay or minimize some of the damaging effects of foundation settlement, but it’s not a surefire method to prevent your home from sinking and settling in the expansive clay soils that make up much of our Central Texas area.
So the short answer to the question, “Will watering my foundation prevent settlement?” is it might help a little, but if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen no matter what you do.
We do have some more thoughts and suggestions on preventing foundation settlement if you want to check out: Can I Prevent Foundation Problems in My Home: 3 Ways to Try. Please notice the keyword of *try* in the article title, because all the suggestions are only efforts, not promises.
The Most Common Cause of Foundation Settlement
The variable moisture levels of our climate are what cause the expanding and contracting of expansive clay soils. If it were wet all the time, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem. If it were dry all the time, it also wouldn’t be as much of a problem. But when moisture levels change back and forth a lot, that becomes an issue and can cause foundation settlement.
So naturally, you think, “Well, I can’t control the weather, but I can control the moisture levels so let’s water the foundation to keep the moisture the same all year long.”
But there’s no way you and your garden hose can keep the ground around your home as consistently wet as our wettest times. It would basically be soggy all the time.
You also can’t water anything except around just your house. The soil system is all connected and moisture fluctuations at your neighbor’s house, on your street, in your neighborhood, city, and county affects everyone’s soil whether you water or not.
This is why we can’t say that watering will definitely prevent foundation problems.
Will Watering My Foundation Correct Foundation Problems?
If your home has already moved due to foundation settlement (and you already think you are seeing signs of foundation problems in your home), your home cannot be *repaired* by watering around the foundation. No amount of water will permanently return your home to its original elevation once it has started to sink.
What Watering Can and Can’t Do for Your Foundation
While watering can help sometimes and has some benefits to your home and surroundings, watering cannot prevent settlement if it’s going to happen. Watering cannot repair a home with foundation problems. In a nutshell, here are the *cans and cants* of foundation watering.
Hopefully, you can see from these lists, that even some of the *cans* are not positive situations for your foundation or home.
Watering Your Foundation Can:
- Keep the soil around your home hydrated
- Keep the landscaping and flowerbeds around your home looking nice
- Minimize shrinkage of soil during hot/dry months
- Cause other drainage problems that also result in foundation problems
- Significantly increase your water bill
- Add to the problem if your settlement is due to under-slab plumbing issues
- Attract tree roots toward your home that can cause foundation issues
Watering Your Foundation Cannot:
- Effectively raise a sunken foundation long-term
- Hold your home at the appropriate/original elevation
- Prevent the settlement effects of systemic widespread drought
- Keep your home from experiencing the effects of a sloping lot or other issues related to your lot condition
Why Shouldn’t I Try to Water My Foundation?
Listen, we’re not saying you can’t TRY to prevent foundation settlement by watering. We’re just saying that it might be a wasted effort, a waste of water, and just delaying the inevitable. Here’s why:
The strength of expansive clay soils is powerful stuff. Regional severe drought seasons cannot be tempered by one person’s hose. These are forces of nature that are much bigger than you and only treating the area immediately around your home won’t help if the entire soil system is experiencing extreme drought.
Ultimately the strong forces of expansive clay soils, our climate, and nature itself will win out over any of your small-scale efforts. So don’t try too hard to meet an unattainable ideal of perfectly consistent moisture at all times for the sake of your foundation.
Plus, paying a much higher water bill all year is probably not something you want to do either.
How Much or How Often Should I Water My Foundation?
Ok, so if you really want to *try* some watering anyway, here’s what we suggest. Water your yard and flowerbeds/landscaping to keep it alive and looking nice. Don’t directly “water your foundation” but aim to keep your grass and plant life alive all year.
Many people hear the words, “It’s summer and we’re in a drought,” and immediately give up on watering their lawns. We suggest that you not give up and continue keeping your yard looking nice. Consistent watering of your lawn with the aim of keeping everything alive minimizes those chances of settlement from shrinking soil without going overboard and running up your water bill to the extreme.
If you do start to hear the words “extreme drought,” first take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes the news and people, in general, overreact to drought conditions in a typical Texas summer. Then, check out this article for some historical perspectives on Texas drought.
Also, if it does seem a bit dryer than your normal summer, consider watering just a bit more. But again, no need to go overboard. Still, just try to keep everything in your yard alive and thriving, and hope for the best. Don’t turn your yard into a swampy mess thinking that it’s going somehow stave off the effects of a mega-drought.
What Will Repair a Settled Foundation?
Now that you know that no amount of water will return your home to its original elevation once it has started to sink. What will repair a settled foundation? Well, it’s foundation repair . . .
Foundation repair adds additional support under your home and physically raises the home back to where it was when it was built.
Hey, guess what? Anchor has been taking care of Brazos Valley foundations for the past 35+ years. In fact, it’s in our name: Anchor Foundation Repair. Nice, huh? If watering were the way to repair a foundation, we would surely be doing it, but it’s not the optimal solution.
Here’s the basic info on what foundation repair means and how it works to help you understand what is really needed to get your foundation repaired effectively.