A slab foundation is designed with concrete footings and /or underground piers and concrete floors. A pier and beam foundation consists of either wood or concrete piers that support beams above the ground. These beams support the floor joists and the floor joists supports the floor. A pier and beam foundation has a crawlspace under the home. It’s a good idea to inspect this area from time to time for plumbing leaks, flooding, rodent activity, and other potential problems.

Moisture and Foundations

Water should not stand next to the foundation for an extended period of time. The moisture in the soils will cause the foundation to heave in that area. The source of the water can be rain, or any number of possible plumbing leaks around the home. Repairing leaks is a must. Soil next to the foundation should be pitched in a way that will drain rainwater away from the home. It may be necessary to build the soils up next to the home with sandy loam or topsoil. Just remember, dirt should not extend higher than 2 inches below the bottom course of brick for a slab foundation or half way up the perimeter footing of a pier & beam foundation.

Foundations and Soil

If clay soils next to the foundation becomes too dry, they will shrink, crack, and pull away from the perimeter of the foundation. The subsoil then loses its ability to support the foundation. Sooner or later the foundation will crack and settle into this void. These soil cracks can also admit water during heavy rains. The water will then wash the soil out from under the foundation. This will only make things worse. When the soil starts to separate from the foundation by up to an 1/8 of an inch, the soil needs water. Watering of the foundation should be uniform in order to minimize the possibility of exerting uneven pressure on the foundation. A sprinkler system, if installed and utilized properly, can provide the best protection.

Maintaining a Good Foundation

The next best option is to place soaker hoses 12-18 inches away from the foundation. Water at least a few days a week, 10-15 minutes at a time, during the dry seasons of the year. A (Y) at the faucet and an in-line timer will reduce the efforts of watering. One last note, do not plant trees within 10 feet of home. Surface rooting trees, such as Willows, Mulberries and Maples, should be planted even farther away from the home.

Updated: November 1, 2016 — 1:44 pm

The Author

Mike Martin, Dallas home inspector

ASHI Certified Real Estate Inspector, focused on home inspections in the North Dallas communities of McKinney, Plano, Park Cities and Frisco TX. Mike earned his license as a TREC-certified Professional Real Estate Inspector — the highest designation available right out of training. He joined Advanced Inspection Service in October 2013. Mike is also a Certified Swimming Pool Inspector and Certified Termite Inspector - See more at:
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