During these hot summer days, with the heat indices rising to the upper 90s and even 100s, we think to water our gardens and even our lawns, but what about watering the soil surrounding the foundation of our homes?

There are many different soil types depending on the part of the country you live in, and climate conditions can greatly impact the stability of the soil surrounding your foundation. Each soil type has its own unique characteristics and these contribute to the way the soil reacts to internal and external conditions, such as moisture levels. See different soil types below:

Soil is most stable when it is at its optimal moisture level. For the most part the soil in the greater Cincinnati area is clay rich, meaning it behaves like a typical sponge, when wet it swells, when dry it shrinks. For instance when the soil around foundation dries out in the warmer drier summer months may shrink or pull away from the foundation. What happens when the soil shrinks and pulls away from the foundation? It allows for the foundation to also dry out which could lead to a fluctuation in the internal moisture levels in the foundation.
Keep in mind concrete is a porous material so moisture levels can and do fluctuate, so as your soil is expanding and contracting this contributes to expansion and contraction of your foundation since concrete expands and contracts in response to internal and external forces and conditions.
Can watering your foundation during these hot summer days minimize the risk of foundation concerns? The best way to determine if watering your foundation is optimal for your given situation is by contacting a structural engineer for a consult. If you have concerns or notice that your soil is pulling away from your foundation, you may want call a structural engineer and ask if watering your foundation is right for you.



*Soil index provided from Howard A. Perko, PhD, PE, foreward by  Dan Brown PhD. PE “Helical PILES A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO Design and Installation” New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2009, Print