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Is Watering a Foundation a Myth?

watering foundation myth
watering foundation myth

Despite what many people assume, watering a foundation is not a myth. This practice involves moistening dry soil and is especially effective during hot weather. Watering a foundation in such settings can protect it and keep it intact.

What Does it Mean to Water a Foundation?

Watering a foundation is a simple process that involves moistening dry soil around a home. People achieve this goal by lightly saturating the soil with a soaker hose. For best results, avoiding applying water directly to the foundation is ideal. Instead, using the water about one to two feet away from the foundation is better.

Despite what many people assume, watering a foundation is not a myth. This practice involves moistening dry soil and is especially effective during hot weather. Watering a foundation in such settings can protect it and keep it intact.

Why is it Necessary to Water a Foundation?

Your choice to water a foundation is most necessary during periods of hot weather. When the weather is hot, it dries out the soil. While this phenomenon alone tends not to be an issue, it can dramatically negatively affect your foundation.

When certain types of soil around a foundation dry out, they shrink. This shrinkage can cause voids to form around and below the foundation. When voids form, a problem known as differential foundation settlement can occur.

While a small amount of uniform settlement is typical for a foundation, especially in the first year after construction, differential settlement causes damage. Differential foundation settlement involves uneven shifts that can result in structural failures throughout an entire home. This foundation settlement type can also be costly and time-consuming to resolve. Fortunately, applying water to the soil around a foundation can help prevent this issue during hot weather.

Areas that Need Foundation Watering More than Others

In some places, foundation watering is more necessary. The list below reveals instances in which foundation watering is more needed:

  1. Hot regions: Hotter regions, such as the southern portions of the United States, are more likely to experience soil shrinkage, making foundation watering more beneficial. Since these regions can remain hot year-round, regular foundation watering can become a required activity.
  2. Areas experiencing hot weather: Even if your region is not hot year-round, it can experience hot weather. When this occurs, foundation watering helps prevent the damage shrinking soils can cause.
  3. Locations with expansive soils: Compared to other soil types, expansive soils are more prone to shrinkage, adding to the need for foundation watering during hot periods.

Benefits of Watering a Foundation

While many believe watering a foundation is a myth, it has distinct benefits. The list below shows what some of those benefits are:

  1. Intact soils: If your soils are prone to shrinkage during warmer weather, foundation watering prevents that phenomenon and keeps your soils in excellent condition.
  2. Prevention of differential foundation settlement: Perhaps the most significant benefit of watering a foundation is that it helps prevent differential foundation settlement. Avoiding this type of settlement ensures your home avoids the associated structural deficiencies.

Types of Foundation Settlement

Signs Soil Around Your Foundation is Too Dry

Here are some signs your home’s foundation might need watering:

Increased temperatures can also cause soils around your foundation to crack. Cracking soil reveals a need for foundation watering

  1. The presence of hot weather: Any time the outdoor temperature rises, soil shrinkage is more likely, leading to a greater need to water your foundation.
  2. Dry soils: Soil that requires watering will be distinctly dry to the touch.
  3. Cracking soils: Increased temperatures can also cause soils around your foundation to crack. Cracking soil reveals a need for foundation watering.
  4. Soil that separates from the foundation: When soil is dry enough, it will begin to separate from the foundation. This results in a visible gap between the soil and the foundation wall.

What Happens if You Water a Foundation Too Much?

Although watering a foundation is not a myth, it can lead to detrimental effects if you do it too much. Mainly, excessive foundation watering can lead to an issue with hydrostatic pressure.

Hydrostatic pressure is a scientific term referring to the force water exerts on any surfaces it touches. Too much water entering the soil near a foundation can place a force on the foundation wall. This force results in lateral pressure against the foundation, sometimes causing the foundation walls to crack, break, bow, or deform in some other way.

Excessive hydrostatic pressure can damage the structural integrity of your entire home. When you overwater a foundation, it becomes more likely that hydrostatic pressure will occur. As such, ensure your foundation watering remains moderate to avoid this widespread issue.

Hydrostatic Pressure on Basement Wall

Additional Ways to Improve a Foundation

Watering a foundation has more pros than cons. However, it is not the only way to help prevent foundation trouble. The list below shows some standard ways to improve and protect a foundation:

  1. Enhance foundation drainage: Drainage systems ensure groundwater around your home is channeled away from the foundation. Many components comprise a complete drainage system, including drain tile, sump pumps, floor drains, and more.
  2. Regrade the land around your home: Ensure the land surrounding your home pitches away from the foundation to discourage rainwater from seeping in.
  3. Ensure gutters and downspouts work as intended: Clean your gutters regularly so they do not overflow and deposit water near a foundation. Downspout extensions also help to convey water from the roof away from a home.
  4. Install dehumidification: Adding a dehumidification system to your basement or crawl space helps you manage and maintain the ideal relative humidity level. Monitoring humidity ensures it does not cause damage to the wood structures in your basement or crawl space. Mainly, we are talking about the floor joists, sub floor, wooden I-Beam, wooden I-Beam Supports, and any basement finishings you may have.

Hire an Expert in Foundation Improvement

Watering a foundation is one of many ways to enhance a foundation. Still, understanding how to keep your foundation intact is challenging for the average homeowner. A better approach is to hire an expert to evaluate your foundation.

If you live in the Chicagoland area, The Real Seal is the best team you can choose for any foundation concern. Contact us today to learn more about our expertise and the services we can provide.


Austin Werner

Austin Werner is the Owner of The Real Seal LLC, a basement waterproofing and foundation repair company. Austin believes that having a highly trained and happy team is the key to success. This is reflected through hundreds of 5 star customer reviews his company has received online.

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