Houston Area Home Inspector, Texan Inspection, knows that foundations in our area require specific attention to managing moisture levels as they rest primarily on clay-based soils. Clay-based soils have expansion and contraction characteristics that can be a challenge to homeowners when it comes to maintaining the foundations of their homes. When clay-based soil is wet it expands and when it becomes dry it contracts. These expansions and contractions are much stronger in clay-based soils than in other soil types. It is surprising how much your home’s foundation can react to these changes and is constantly being affected by changes in soil-related pressure changes.
What Texan Inspection Looks for when Inspecting a Houston Area Foundation: Too Wet or Too Dry
It is important that home inspectors look closely at the drainage around the home. Proper grading around the home allows water to drain away avoiding pooling of water up against the foundation. If water is allowed to pool next to the foundation, the soil becomes oversaturated. The soil can expand to a point where it exerts uneven pressure against the foundation.
This uneven pressure can cause doors and windows to operate poorly or become “sticky.” It can also cause excessive cracking in brick or stucco walls. In contrast, if the soil around the home becomes too dry it will contract. This will cause the soil to move away from the home allowing the home’s foundation to “sag” especially at the corners of the home.
Tips for your Houston Area Foundation from Texan Inspection
During the hot dry summers in our area, most homeowners have seen a gap between the soil and the foundation. This is a clear sign that the foundation is beginning to lose its support from the surrounding soil. This can be problematic for your foundation so “watering your foundation” is recommended by many foundation experts. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, you can simply lengthen the time or increase the days of watering.
If this does not eliminate the soil gap or if you have a manual watering system, then a soaker hose placed about three feet away from the foundation can be used to add moisture to the soil at the foundation. It may take several days but you should see the soil expand and regain contact with the foundation.
Maintaining the proper moisture level can save homeowners thousands of dollars in potential foundation repair. Houston Area Home Inspector Texan Inspection wants you to be in the know on all of the ways you can save money in the future and preserve your foundation from future issues.
Houston Area Foundations: Passive vs Active Reinforcement
The engineering design for foundations in clay-based soils has evolved with the introduction of post-tension foundations to better handle these changes in soil pressure. Prior to about 1980, most foundations in the Houston area were built with steel rebar as the primary reinforcement for concrete foundations.
Steel rebar in concrete is considered a “passive” reinforcement. It is susceptible to failure because of the constant changes in soil pressures. Post-tension cable-designed foundations are an “active” type of concrete reinforcement. Steel cabling that is within a plastic sleeve is run in both directions throughout the foundation pad prior to pouring the concrete. One end of the cable is secured to the form board. The other end is left loose and hanging outside of the form board.
After the concrete is poured and has been cured properly, the home builder attaches a tensioning machine that stretches the loose end of the post-tension cable. This can be done since the cable is within the plastic sleeve and is secured at the opposite end. These steel cables have a tensile strength of 270,000 pounds per square inch and are stressed to about 33,000 pounds. This makes them about twice as strong as a typical slab on a grade foundation. Hence the name post-tension (tensioning after pouring) and “active” support since they are under tension and actively drawing the concrete together.
Texan Inspection for your Houston Area Home Inspection
Home inspections are important for so many reasons. When you are armed with a thorough inspection and have all the facts at your fingertips, you can make informed decisions about your potential home purchase. Texan Inspection Services is a family-owned business that has provided home inspections to the Houston metro area for 20 years and performed over 40,000 home inspections.
We hope that you will consider us as your home inspector. Contact us today at 281-342-5762 or at www.texaninspection.com to schedule an inspection that you can trust to give you all the information you need!