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Watering Your House’s Foundation: Why and How

Watering Your House’s Foundation: Why and How

A common rule of thumb is to keep water away from your foundation. However, with droughts becoming more common and more extreme, it’s important to make sure the soil around your foundation isn’t too dry. Today, we’ll show you why it’s important to water your foundation if you’re facing a drought and how to do it.

Takeaways

  • Droughts dry out soil, which can cause unexpected soil movement.
  • Keeping the soil around your foundation moist is crucial in drought conditions.
  • An inexpensive soaker hose can help you reduce risks of foundation problems caused by droughts.

Why you should water your house during droughts

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When builders build houses, they build them to withstand soil movement caused by “normal” weather conditions. Unfortunately, the last decade has been full of abnormal weather conditions, such as the current megadrought we’re seeing across a large chunk of the US.

Many times, soil movement that can cause foundation damage happens because of changing moisture content. During a drought, the soil cracks and recedes, which can cause walls and foundations to crack and buckle over time.

The solution to drought-related soil movement is watering the soil near your house regularly.

Wait, I thought water around the foundation is bad

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It can be. However, this rule applies to normal weather cycles. Droughts are extreme weather cycles, and so they require different solutions.

The key to properly watering your house is moderation. This means that you need an idea for when it’s the right time to water your house.

When to water your house

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There’s an easy way to determine whether the soil near your house needs water.

Simply pick up a hunk of soil near your foundation and squeeze it. If it forms a ball that keeps its shape, you’re good.

If you cannot ball the soil in your hand because it’s too hard, too dusty, or breaks apart, it’s too dry and requires water.

Things to avoid when watering your house

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Before we explain how to water your house, let’s go over a few things to avoid.

  1. Watering too much. You don’t want puddles or standing water near your foundation.
  2. Miscalculating conditions. Water early in the day or later in the evening to reduce evaporation. Shady soil likely needs less water, while soil in full sun may need more.
  3. Watering too fast. The water must penetrate the top layer. If you water too fast, you may experience runoff, which means everything under the top layer is still too dry.
  4. Ignoring water conservation rules. Check your local water conservation rules, and water accordingly.
  5. Ignoring the problem altogether. Drought is worst in the American South and West. But with hotter summers worldwide, simply ignoring the issue won’t make it go away, no matter where you live.

Now, let’s go through the process of watering your house properly.

How to water your home

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Watering your home requires some care, monitoring, and a few soaker hoses. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Grab a hunk of soil from near your foundation and squeeze it. If it falls apart or is too hard to form a ball, it’s time to water.
  2. Get a sense for how much sun your dry area gets. If it’s in the shade, you won’t need to water as long. If it’s in full sun, you may need to water longer.
  3. Gather or purchase a soaker hose. Don’t skimp on quality. Higher-quality soaker hoses cost about $30 apiece, but they’re well worth it. You won’t need a professional soaker hose for this job, so don’t feel obligated to spend hundreds of dollars here.
  4. Set your soaker hose just below the soil (preferably) or on top of the soil, about a foot away from the foundation. Follow the hose’s instructions for setup.
  5. Avoid blasting water through the hose at high pressure, which could damage it. Open your valve slowly, about a quarter turn or until you see water trickling out of the hose.
  6. Monitor the hose the first few times to determine how long to leave it on. Start with a 20-minute watering. Remember: You want moist soil, but not puddles or mud pits.
  7. After 20 minutes, turn the hose off.
  8. The following day, check the area you watered. Stick your finger in the soil, down to about your second knuckle on your index finger. If you feel moisture, good! If not, increase your watering time by five minutes on the next watering day.
  9. Adjust watering times as needed, and follow local water conservation regulations.

Conclusion: Maintenance matters

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The only person who can reduce foundation issues caused by drought is you. Be sure to check the soil around your home regularly, and water as needed.

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