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Should I water my home’s foundation? Austin experts weigh in.

Projects Editor Matt Largey waters his homes foundation with a hose.
Matt Largey
/
KUT
KUT Projects Editor Matt Largey waters his home's foundation with a hose. Experts are divided on what good this does, if any.

When it gets hot, the soil underneath a home can dry out. That might cause the house's foundation to move, which can weaken its structure and cause damage.

Some Texans opt to water their home's foundation in the summer to bring moisture back into the soil. But Simon Wallace, the owner of Quality Foundation Repair in Austin, said there's no evidence that this actually works.

"It's not an exact science, watering a foundation,” he said.

A foundation is the structure a home sits on. The framing, walls and floors all rely on a dependable one.

In Central Texas, Wallace said, there are two common types of foundations: slab-on-grade and pier-and-beam. They’re both heavily clay-based systems. Because of the weight of the foundation on the ground, soil can become dehydrated and contract.

“When the contraction happens, the soil shrinks,” Wallace said. “Think of the desert, where you see all the cracks in the soil. It can be that bad.”

When the soil shrinks, your foundation could shift. So, people may try to water their foundation to increase moisture levels. But, Wallace said, this could do more harm than good.

“If you get it wrong, you can overwater a foundation and cause more problems, causing more shifting,” he said.

Thomas Appelbaum with the inspection company Foundation Guru said homeowners can water their foundation, but they have to do it consistently throughout the year.

"Keep it where you pick one or the other, consistently dry or consistently healthy," Appelbaum said. "Typically, that's going to go a long way to prevent massive failure on a foundation."

Some tell-tale signs of foundation movement are drywall cracks or doors sticking shut, Wallace said. If you see these signs, he said, call a foundation expert immediately.

“If you notice signs of shifting in the foundations, don't put it off to make the call,” Wallace said. “It's a free, no-obligation evaluation for most companies in town. And it's better to have the information. It's not always as bad as you think it's going to be."

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Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter, with a focus on Travis County. Got a tip? Email her at hpanjwani@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @hayapanjw.
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