Southlake – August 5, 2009 – Foundation repair companies in Texas are scrambling to meet heavy demand, as dry, shrinking soil causes home foundations to crack under their own weight. It happens every year, but this summer has been worse because of severe drought conditions combined with temperatures hovering at 100 degrees.
A Texas plumbing expert says that for many homeowners, a cracked foundation will not be the end of their problems. Foundation repair, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, may only be part of the solution. He recommends an inexpensive plumbing tune-up to check for foundation leaks that could help prevent a catastrophic failure.
Master Plumber Jamie Wooldridge, president of Berkeys Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, said most Texas homes are built on concrete slabs that have plumbing lines encased in the concrete slab and beneath it.
“It doesn’t take a big shift in the soil to cause a slab to crack, and the plumbing lines along with it, Wooldridge said. “A small crack can make a slow leak that will erode the soil under a house. That can cause the foundation to fail and break the water lines. Then you need a lot more than foundation repair.”
Wooldridge says when that kind of shift happens, homes can flood to a depth of several inches of water in a matter of minutes, ruining carpet, drapes, hardwood floors, appliances and anything else near the ground. Usually, this results in total loss of everything in the water’s way.
Some homeowners’ insurance policies will cover water damage, but not damage to the plumbing itself, which can be expensive to repair or replace. “It’s a plumbing nightmare, and mostly avoidable” Wooldridge said. “But every year, like clockwork, we get called out to fix the plumbing on foundation repair jobs.”
The cause and effect are simple, but devastating. As soil beneath a slab dries out it shrinks, which causes the house to settle unevenly, resulting in slab cracks that require foundation repair. Drought conditions also cause nearby trees and foundation plantings to extend their roots under foundations to pull water from the soil.
Early indicators of possible foundation repair problems include cracks in interior and exterior walls, and doors that stick or won’t open, especially in older homes. Some settling is normal in new homes, but it usually does not result in more than small cracks over doors and at drywall seams.
Wooldridge says one of the best ways to head off foundation repairs is to keep the soil around the foundation moist using a soaker hose. Set the hose about a foot from the concrete and run it for 15-30 minutes daily during drought conditions. It will cost something to do that, but the cost of a little extra water is small compared to the cost of a foundation repair – not to mention a plumbing disaster.
Berkeys Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning has specialized in the needs of homeowners in Southlake, Grapevine, Colleyville and Flower Mound for more than 34 years. Berkeys reputation for prompt, honest service from licensed and factory trained technicians assures customers the best in professional service and equipment. Texas State License #TACLB26791E. To learn more, call Berkeys at 1-877-BERKEYS, or visit our Website at www.berkeys.com.