Drought keeping foundation repair companies busy



Andrew Chung

Posted on July 14, 2013 at 10:44 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 14 at 11:00 PM

In Pflugerville, workers stabilized the foundation of Debby Krueger’s home with the help of a hydraulic ram and concrete cylinders.

Inside her home, a crack on her bedroom wall is evidence of a foundation issue. 

Krueger says she's one of the luckier homeowners. Her foundation problems are minor compared to others.  "My doors - you can see there was a little bit of change at the doors, but I've never had 'em stick - but my neighbors did,” she said.

She'd be content to leave these issues alone, but she's getting ready to sell her home.  "They kind of said on a level that my house is not that bad, but because of people wanting to get loans for houses, you know, you have to be sure that you have that fixed,” she explained.

Enrique Comparan is a co-owner of CenTex Foundation Repair, and the company’s vice president of operations. He said the front of Krueger's home was fine but the rear had to be propped up.  "If you put it on 1 to 10 on her case, we're talking about like 3, 4, you know...she's taking care of her issue on an early, early time, which is good," he explained.

His company - like others - is getting more calls during the summer months.  "We get, you know, a hundred plus degree weather, the soils lose a lot of their moisture and as a result, the houses tend to drop."

Comparan said when some homeowners start seeing problems, they tend to water the ground next to the foundation, which isn't a good idea.  "What they'll do is they'll crank out the soaker hose for a few hours every day until the house basically heaves slightly, and closes the crack or makes that door work properly again, and then they think they solved the problem."

He said that's when they stop watering on a regular basis - and the problem just comes right back.

Let's say that leads to your home's foundation needing repair.  After the workers put the concrete piers in, Comparan recommends his customers not use soaker hoses to water their foundations.

Simon Wallace, who is the owner of Quality Foundation Repair, agrees soaker hoses are not the way to go.  "The soaker hose is like a band-aid.  It's not really repairing the actual problem with the home," he said.

Wallace's company was working on a building in downtown Austin for Hill Country Guitars owner Dwain Cornelius, who said, "(I) knew I was gonna have to redo the foundation on this house, so...(I) need it level to hang guitars on the wall." 

Wallace said this foundation sagged as much as six inches - but these problems started even before the drought.  On a scale from one to ten, with ten being the worst, he said "this was probably an 8. This house was up there."

To keep your house from deteriorating to this point, experts recommend you maintain healthy landscaping that comes right up to the foundation - and water that landscaping regularly - within your city's rules.

"We actually recommend putting in a moisture barrier around the perimeter to stop the sun baking that soil around the perimeter of the slab, and that will control the moisture level and keep the foundation stable," said Wallace.  He also said it’s a good idea to make sure your home’s gutter system directs water away from the foundation.

Summer is keeping foundation repair companies busy,  but once they're done with their work, they hope you won't have that sinking feeling.