Foundation Maintenance


June 7, 2022

Extreme temperatures in Texas can cause soil to expand and contract throughout the year. Consequently, this periodic expansion and contraction can result in normal foundation cracks. Therefore, it is important to monitor these cracks and ensure they aren’t worsening by doing proper foundation maintenance.


Experts recommend not planting trees or shrubs next to the foundation. Their roots sap moisture from the soil at the foundation and under the slab. This reduction in moisture content can cause differential settlement of the foundation. Therefore, you should plant trees no closer than their expected growth height. For example, if a tree is anticipated to grow 30 feet tall, plant it at least 30 feet away from the house. Certain fast-growing bushes, like red-tipped Photinia, should be avoided completely as they consume large amounts of water. For tips on planting trees, visit Home Depot’s Guide on Tree Planting.


Keep an eye on the soil conditions around your house by observing the “soil line,” where the soil meets the concrete beam wall. If the soil line has pulled away from the foundation more than 1/8 inch, it is time to water. Ideally, the soil should be snug against the wall. If you see that the soil has pulled away, do not add water directly into the separation. Instead, use a sprinkler or a soaker hose. The separation should close by itself in a few days. Learn more about proper soil management at Lowes’ Soil Guide.


Proper drainage is key to maintaining foundation elevations. Water should always run away from the house with no pooling near the foundation. The soil should be about 2 inches below the top of the perimeter grade beams and slope about 1-2 inches per foot for a minimum of 18 inches away from the perimeter. Experts recommend placing fill dirt at perimeter grade beams, installing gutters, and placing splash blocks under downspouts. Only clay-like soils should be added around the perimeter, not porous or sandy soils. For more tips on drainage solutions, visit This Old House’s Guide on Proper Drainage.


You should slowly increase and maintain the moisture content of the soil at the perimeter of the foundation during all seasons. Water the foundation in a uniform and systematic manner with an automatic system or a soaker hose placed 12-18 inches from the perimeter beam wall. The key is to keep the soil moist but not muddy. Watering every other day for about 20 minutes is usually sufficient. During very hot, dry periods, increase watering. The South and West sides of the house might require more watering due to more direct exposure to the sun than the North and East sides. For watering system options, check out Lowes’ Irrigation Guide.


Ensure you have the appropriate maintenance plan by contacting your local foundation repair company today. For more tips on foundation maintenance, visit This Old House. Learn more about proper drainage techniques on HGTV. Find out how to care for your foundation at Family Handyman.

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