Central Texas Soil
Okay, "Let’s dish the dirt." Most of the soil in central Texas is clay. There are several different varieties of clay, but what most of them have in common is that they shrink up when they are dried out, and swell up when they are wet. What that means to homeowners is that the shrinking and swelling can cause foundation problems. We’re familiar with the concept of building on a firm foundation, now we need to know what to do to keep that foundation from suffering distress due to shrinking and swelling of the soil beneath it.
What to do about preventing foundation damage or a cracked slab?
Control the moisture of the soil and keep it as uniform as possible. Quite a challenge in our Texas weather! Several steps can be taken. Make sure the area around the foundation is properly graded to permit good drainage away from the foundation. Add soil or remove soil to create a drainage swale. Do be careful to not add soil up to the level of the wood trim or the weep holes in the masonry. If you have raingutters, be sure that they direct water away from the foundation.
Our hot dry season makes it necessary to put moisture into the soil. You can use a soaker hose placed 10-12 inches away from the foundation. Daily 20-30 minute sessions during the hottest dry periods should help. You want to avoid overwatering resulting in pools of standing water or mud. a sprinkler can be directed to cover the area. Paying attention to the cracking of the soil as it dries can tip you as to when to water again after showers.
Attention should be paid to plantings around the foundation.
Try to keep the faster growing, more thirsty plants at a distance from the foundation. Controlling root growth by providing shields and pruning will help to maintain soil moisture under the foundation.
Controlling the moisture in the soil under and around your foundation will go a long way toward reducing foundation movement so that you’re living on a firm foundation!