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post-soakerhose.jpgDoes your sprinkler system normally take care of keeping the dirt around your home’s concrete foundation moist?  If so, beware: Cutting back your weekly watering periods as required by the severe water restrictions in many Midwest locales may have more side effects than just leaving your grass brown.  It can crack your foundation.

When the ground around the foundation dries up, it begins to “recess,” or pull away from the foundation.  With the loss of that support, cracking can occur.

However, most cities offer exceptions for the use of soaker hoses around your foundation, often allowing up to an hour of “soaking” each day.  Combine them with a $40 digital timer, and you’re good to go.

If you can’t already tell from our mention of the Gilmour timer, this happened to us.  Though you can find soaker hoses at pretty much any home improvement center or garden/hardware store, we picked up ours (linked below) at Lowe’s for about $12. 

You’ll need to measure (roughly) around your home to figure out how many you’ll need.  (We needed four.)  Remember to add a little distance to your measurements to allow for placing the hose about 6″ away from the foundation.  Placing it too close will allow the water to just run into any existing gap rather than soaking in and expanding the soil.

Don’t forget to pick up a few end caps (if they’re not already included) and any connectors/splitters/adapters you’ll need to hook ‘em up.

5/8″ x 75′ Soaker Hose [Lowe's]

 

6 Responses to Tip: Use Soaker Hoses to Save Your Home’s Foundation

  1. DeadlyDad says:

    I’ve never heard of of foundations cracking because of too-dry soil pulling away from the /sides/, but there /are/ some ways that too much/too little moiosture can cause problems, especially if there are trees growing beside the foundation and there is a drought. (http://www.greenweb.com.au/archicentre/html/diy_cracking_checklist.html) I you have information to back up what you say, I would appreciate hearing it.

    • Jeremy says:

      We live outside of houston, tx, and this year (2011), we have experienced a massive drought. I lost my job in feb. and was watering every 2 days for a few hours each day. I started a new job in july, and it took 2 weeks to see a difference in the foundation due to lack of water. Our backdoor barely closes now, and our front door is almost impossible to lock. In fact my wife has had to leave out of the backdoor a few times because she can’t pull hard enough to get it unlocked to get out. I’m currently in home depot’s parking lot about to pick up done soaker hoses to hopefully cure this problem. We do however have other visible signs of foundation issues due to heat inside the house, such as other doors not closing, and cracks in sheetrock in a few walls. I know we have foundation issues, but currently don’t have the money for repairing it, so the soaker hose will be our temporary fix.

  2. james b says:

    I had one corner of my foundation drop a couple of inches where the AC condensate dripped and left the ground soggy.

  3. [...] This week a number of readers commented to help keep us on the straight and narrow.  For example, DeadlyDad questioned our recommendation of using soaker hoses to prevent foundation cracks in dry weather: “I’ve never heard of foundations cracking because of too-dry soil pulling away from the sides, but there are some ways that too much/too little moisture can cause problems, especially if there are trees growing beside the foundation and there is a drought.  If you have information to back up what you say, I would appreciate hearing it.” [...]

  4. Dale Martin says:

    I live halfway between Houston and Galveston on soil called gumbo. It has a 10x expansion/contraction factor in the presence/absence of water. My slab cracked about 15 years ago. Doors not easily opening, a definite sense of a slope to the kitchen floor, cracked/separating sheetrock, cracked brick/concrete joints were the visible signs. I paid $8,000 for re-leveling. Since then, I’ve not used soaker hoses to keep the ground moisture at a constant level, but the foundation repair company suggested I do that. However, they also said it’s not likely using soaker hoses around a house with a cracked slab will restore the ground and slab to their original condition. Once the slab is cracked, re-moisturizing the ground won’t push it back into place. I was also told that placement of the hoses are pretty critical: too close (I think 6″ is too close) and the water will wash away soil that has separated from the slab further reducing support; too far and not enough moisture is penetrating the soil under/adjacent to the slap to provide constant support. I was told 18″ was a good distance from the slab. Also a 3′ deep root barrier to keep any nearby tree roots from penetrating under the slab and sucking away the moisture.

  5. Michelle says:

    WE have had 8 piers put one the south side of our house. Two years later the house began shifting some so I called the pier co. back out. Before they came out, the house went back to its original position. I asked them what happened. They said we had a tremendous amount of rain and although my house going back up to its original position within a month, they contributed it to all the rain and said they wouldn’t normally say that keeping the foundation watered mattered. But they said with my house there was definite proof that the water is what made the difference and that I should keep it watered regularly.

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