A built-in sprinkler system can be a lifesaver for those who want a beautiful, lush lawn during the summer months. However, sprinkler systems can also be quite hazardous to the condition of your home's foundation if not installed and cared for properly. If you have a sprinkler system already in place, there are a few things you need to watch for each season to keep your home healthy and prevent costly foundation repairs.
The Importance of Maintaining Soil Moisture
The key to a healthy home foundation is maintaining the soil around your home at a constant moisture level. It may be surprising to hear, but super dry soil can be just as hard on your foundation as very wet soil. Instead, the goal is to keep your soil moist enough that it does not expand and contract significantly during changing seasons or weather patterns. If your soil is too dry, it may contract away from your foundation, leaving your home unsupported and causing cracks. Likewise, if your soil is over-saturated, the excess water can cause mold, and the ground beneath your foundation to greatly softening, causing the support to your foundation to falter. A well-designed sprinkler system will include provisions for foundation watering, which will serve to keep the soil closest to your home moist, without flooding things.
Watch for Leaks
The biggest risk posed by in-ground sprinkler system is that of an invisible leak that can't be detected until it is too late. The best way to prevent this from becoming an issue in your home is to closely monitor your monthly water bill for any unexpected spikes in usage. If one of your lines is leaking underground, your water bill will go up before you ever notice that your yard is suffering.
If you do notice a spike in your water bill, it's time to do a walk of your yard to identify the location of the leak. You will most likely find a soft spot where the grass has overgrown and become soggy. Depending on how long the leak has gone on, the size of this spot can vary. Nevertheless, you will want to turn off your sprinkler supply line to prevent any future flooding from reaching your home's foundation. Aside from the risk of water getting into your basement, there are also complications associated with flooding such as heaving of the soil, which will cause the ground to swell and sink in different locations. This action will result in the ground applying pressure to your foundation.
If a leak has turned into foundation damage, you will need to prepare for some extensive work to be done under your house. This typically involves using a series of jacks to lift the foundation back into place, and support it. There are a few different ways this can be done depending on the quality and type of soil beneath your foundation. However, once the foundation has been lifted, it will be repaired and resealed to prevent water from finding its way in through the cracks. Depending on how your foundation is set, whether it be on blocks, stilts or concrete slab, it can be fixed. Your foundation specialists will know which course of action to take to fix the issue.
Don't let your sprinkler system get you down this year. Make sure that it is properly winterized in the fall to protect against Houston's unreliable winters, and do a careful test run in the spring before you activate it for Houston's hot summer days. By inspecting in the spring, you'll be able to solve any leaks that may pop up before they turn into cause for a foundation repair. If you are installing a new sprinkler system, make sure to ask about foundation sprinklers and how they can save your home in the future.