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Old 01-11-2017, 02:44 PM   #1
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Dallas- watering the soil under concrete patio


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In Dallas where we water our foundations. Or, the soil around the foundation, that is. Half of my single-story, 4000sqft, 1978 vintage, slab foundation house in North Dallas has had piers put in by a previous owner, the other half hasn't. The piered side stays level, the side without has cracks that open and close like clockwork depending on the month of the year. I run soaker hoses- however, there are significant runs of perimeter where I have concrete patio/decking, and I closest I can get the the foundation is 5ft- in some cases it's closer to 10. It's these areas where I have the most movement.

To solve for this, I'm thinking one of two things- 1) I can install underground permanent hose/pipe runs (made for this purpose), or 2) I can saw line that is wide enough to accommodate a soaker hose run through it, or possibly a permanent "concrete deck drain"- except it would just act as a pass-thru and I'd just run a soaker hose along the top. Most of the area we're talking about is out of sight so I'm less concerned with curb appeal. The one place that's visible is a large pad at the front door, where I can worry about an underground solution.

Thoughts? Thanks for reading!

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Old 01-11-2017, 06:46 PM   #2
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Re: Dallas- watering the soil under concrete patio


I can offer no solution for you but am curious why you water the soil around your foundations?

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Old 01-11-2017, 07:07 PM   #3
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Re: Dallas- watering the soil under concrete patio


Because around his area the extreme drought conditions in summer cause the specific type of soil to shrink 10% or thereabouts. So it shrinks and bulls away from the foundation. First saw it when I was in Dallas area in the Sumer like 30 years ago. Ron.
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:18 PM   #4
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Re: Dallas- watering the soil under concrete patio


Yikes! And some folks poke at us in the frozen north for the things we have to put up with.

Reminds me that I have to go up on the roof tomorrow and clear the snow from my sat. dish and turbine vents.
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:17 PM   #5
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Re: Dallas- watering the soil under concrete patio


Texas is notorious for expansive clay soil. Not just Texas, but large parts of the south have similar problems. If the moisture content of the soil is maintained within tight limits, the soil stays more or less stable. The trouble is that soil under a slab tends to vary significantly in moisture content from one place to another, leading to differential settlement, and eventually cracking of the slab.

I investigated one property in Louisiana where there was a three inch difference across a crack in the slab. Door stuck, windows cracked, marbles rolled along the floor. Pretty weird, all due to moisture content differences under the slab.

It is very difficult to maintain uniform moisture content even with soaker hoses, but lots of people try. There is an entire industry of foundation repair "experts" down south who will fix your problem, using an amazing variety of supports like helical piers, steel pins, concrete piles, jacks, etc. Often pretty expensive, since some of the solutions require adjustment every few years. If you do go with the hose solution, you may want to invest in a few moisture gages, that way you can monitor soil moisture content and you will have a better idea if you are maintaining even moisture under the slab.
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:17 PM   #6
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Re: Dallas- watering the soil under concrete patio


Yup, our clay soil acts like a sponge- shrinks when it dries up, and expands when wet. "If you can slide your hand down between the soil and the slab, it's too dry". We've had two foundation repairs company come out in the last couple of years, both were honest enough to not do the hard sell and told us that basically, given the consistent history, it's not going to get worse, and that any repair work would be strictly cosmetic.

Daniel- great idea about the moisture gauges. Will definitely do that.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:10 PM   #7
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Re: Dallas- watering the soil under concrete patio


Comparing soil moisture or just checking soil moisture percent accurately can be done the same as lumber would be checked for moisture content, that is where original weight of a sample is compared to oven dried weight.

I flunked math so you do that part.
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Old 01-12-2017, 03:00 AM   #8
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Re: Dallas- watering the soil under concrete patio


I saw a program some years ago (this old house? ), where they needed to trench under a sidewalk, and did not want to dig or cut it.

What they did was a process they called hydraulic drilling, Where they used a pressurized stream of water to wash out the soil under the concrete, while simultaneously sliding a large drain pipe into the eroded space.

When they got to the opposite side they had a drain pipe right where they needed it, and filled in the ground around the area, and had a good way to drain the sewer to the city sewer.

You could modify this idea by using a perforated pipe under your slab, and connecting it to underground soaker hoses or perforated piping around your home to keep the area damp enough to stop the shrinkage.


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Old 01-12-2017, 05:22 AM   #9
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Re: Dallas- watering the soil under concrete patio


The way concrete wicks water it shouldn't be dry under the concrete unless plastic was put down before the pour.

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