Good morning all - I've tried to do my homework before asking, but
cannot find any good source of info regarding midwest clays, soil
expansion, and poured basement foundation cracking. We purchased our
home one month ago (located in Kansas City, MO) and within one week of
possession found settlement problems with the back living room
extension of the house due to clay compaction and the drying of an
underground spring due to the summer's dry weather. This was compounded
by the previous owners not watering the foundation during the hottest
periods. The house is a 2000sqft split/tri-level house with an
unfinished poured concrete basement / foundation.
I _do_ plan to hire the work of an engineer to oversee the repairs, but
have a quick question. After getting out the laser, it appears that the
rear-corner of the foundation has dropped approximately 3/8-1/2". In
the interim, I have set up a semi-buried perimeter drip-system 4 feet
from the foundation and timed sprinklers in the yard to try and
establish some moisture content in the soil.
I have also made and affixed acrylic 'gap rulers' on each side of the
cracks to monitor any further movement (which appears to be only
parallel to the basement walls - no inward/outward expansion).
My question: With the daily watering regiment, do you believe it's
possible to have any positive correction in the cracks with clay
expansion as the moisture content of the soil increases? I understand
this is not a permanent correction, but just a temporary stabilization
to get us through the winter.
Thanks for any insight/experience you can provide.
You may be going about this backwards. I am in KC too actually
I had a job once where the house went down on one end eight
inches. The dirt has shrunk away from the house, the grade was
toward the house and water poured down the wall. Turned out that
just below the good clay (and clay is good for a foundation. All
houses in the KC area not on a rock ledge are on clay), there was
a layer of white clay which when dry is like concrete and when
wet, like quicksand.
Your problem may well be too much water in the wrong place. Is
your exterier grade the 6" fall in the first 5' this area calls
for in the local code? (or 5" in 6', can never remember which)
I heard one so called expert on a talk radio tell people to take a
hose and lay it to run into the crack between the foundation and
dirt to soak it up. So much for "experts".
Hmmmm....... watering the foundation hu?.......thats a new one to me.
Id like to here more on this practice...
<found settlement problems with the back living room
How do you know this information? Did you have a soil test done? If not
Id get one done like NOW before trying anymore homemde fixes, you may
be adding to the problem. If your putting water on this thing daily and
you could very eaisly be creating voids in the soil undermining what
you already have.....the water has to go some where and it is probably
taking soil with it..
Very common in areas with expansive clay soils. There idea is to keep
the clay soil at a consistent hydration level which translates to a
consistent expansion level and avoids the cycling of expansion due to
varying hydration. This cycling is what causes the compaction and loss
of contact with and support to the foundation, resulting in the settling
and cracking issues.
Regions of the country that don't have expansive clay soils have never
heard of this of course.
Seldom do I defer to the experts, but in this case, find a reputable
foundation leveling company and hand it to them. Do as another poster
suggested and improve your drainage / grading to avoid another
Watering the foundation can also be used as a BS excuse by incompetent
home builders, to delay the homeowner filing complaints long enough
that the builder can say the warranty and/or statute of limitations ran
out. I've lived in several states and many areas of the country have
"expansive clay soils." One really good example is the desert
southwest, where there is clay, plus extremes of wet and dry weather.
You might get most of your year's typical rainfall within a few weeks.
If a foundation is built right, on a site that's prepared right, you
should not have to "water your foundation."
E.g. desert landscaping which is required in some areas now due to
water shortages: you cannot water the house in any practical manner and
could be fined for trying to do so. A good foundation is not a
delicate flower requiring hothouse care. A good foundation is built to
withstand the soil and the weather for that region. The fact that so
many new homes have foundation failure has much more to do with
builders taking shortcuts or not knowing what they are doing. A shame
the industry spends money on lawyers and spin doctors to think up BS
like watering your foundation instead of doing the foundation right.
That said, if you have foundation problems what you need is a
structural engineer and/or a soils engineer. There may be a need for
drilling deep core samples. If you do this get a core of your
foundation as well as the soil in a few places. Sometimes a lot can be
learned from the concrete. Ideally, all building sites would have a
soils and engineering report. Sometimes this is required but I feel
that it's not required enough, or is not enforced. You might want to
try and find out if your area does require it and where you'd get a
copy of the report. Sometimes the reports are just "recommendations,"
meaning the builder was under no legal requirement to follow it, but it
can still support your position by showing that the builder didn't
follow recommendations for the site. Certainly underground water, if
that's the case, would be a big mistake to build over without a lot of
precautions at the very least.
Italian Mason wrote:
everything on thise site is relevant
look at it as numerous zones around your house, and of some are watered too
much and some not enough, foundation probelms ensue, how you monitor and how
you water the zones determines your cost for remediation then control
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