Posts tagged: Soil

Fall Floods And Soggy Soil: Texas Home Foundation’s Enemy

flash flood

Everyone fears a hurricane’s gale force winds and flash flooding rains. When a these natural disasters happen, Texans can see the damage. What about the damage that goes unseen? Often this is the bigger enemy to the average home. Fall flooding and soggy soil can slowly, but surely, damage a Texas home’s foundation. This may happen over years with each passing flood and many lesser rains. Unfortunately, it can also happen suddenly with enough flooding.

Homes on Flat Grounds

Texas homes tend to be on flat ground, and the water has nowhere to go. It can stand in one place, puddling above ground. However, it can also seep away and puddle underground. This is more dangerous to the house foundation because it means that there is a gap within the ground itself. As the sink hole forms, gravity starts to pull the ground above downward. This is gradual and the force is just enough to unsettle even the best homes.

Sandy and Soggy Soils

Texas is made up of many regions, but it’s safe to say that most Texas homes are built on a soil that does not hold moisture well. Aridisol, a common Texas soil type, is dry and sandy. This does not hold water well. As a result, water can cause a disturbance underground leaving the house above to sink and settle. Another common Texas soil type, vertisol, contains clay. In Texas, this is often recognizable in to its black or red form. The clay composition means that it can absorb quantities of water, growing as it does so. Then it can dry out, shrinking and cracking as it does so. Again a house built with enough vertisol in the soil is not on truly solid ground. Clay is often the subsoil and it is not always visible to someone walking the grounds. It exists below several layers of better dirt, but the clay is still there, shrinking and swelling with every rain.

Pay Attention to the Signs

Getting to the foundation before it actually sinks is always a good idea. The key is to spot the tell-tale signs before the foundation sinks enough to become troublesome. The doors and the windows often tell the story before the floor starts to sink or wall cracks start to appear. Doors that suddenly seem like they don’t hang right may be a signal that the house is shifting. The door frame isn’t quite right anymore and the door is indicating it.

Know When to Bring in the Pros

If a Texas home is subject to constant flooding, even for a short period of time, it is a good idea to have a foundation inspection. Home owners can’t always recognize the signs, but an expert can locate any trouble spots. An expert has the equipment to check for sink holes, soil composition, and other indications of trouble. A home is often the family’s biggest investment. Assessing it for damage regularly should also include a check on the foundation. After all, if the foundation sinks, the interior damage can be catastrophic. Then the home’s value will sink catastrophically as well. It’s just smarter and more forward-thinking to assess regular after fall flooding.

Peter Wendt, native Texan, found that recent flash flooding had caused his home’s foundation to need repairs. He contacted this foundation company in San Antonio for help.

Termites 101: A Basic Primer on Termites and Termite Inspection

When anyone mentions the word “termite”, images of damaged homes usually come to mind. And rightly so as termites feed on wood, and wood is the number one material used to build homes in the U.S. But just what are termites, what do they do to wood, what can be done about them, and how does termite inspection help homeowners?

Meet Mr. and Ms. Termitoidae

Worker Termites on Rotten Wood

The scientific name for a termite is termitoidae. Not every termite is bad, as many feed on dead leaves and plants, soil, animal waste, and some forms of wood. But the destructive kind can cause havoc on crops, forests, trees, and significant damage to homes and buildings.

Termites are social animals that live in colonies numbering from a few hundred to a million or more. These insects live in different types of environments and form colonies underground, in large pieces of timber or wood, in mounds above ground, in trees, and in the wood of buildings.

Some species of termites are “polycalic” or form more than one nest. As a result of this behavior, termites are sometimes hard to get rid of because they form multiple nests throughout an area. One nest may be eliminated from a home, but the underground tunnels that termites form are connect to other nests and reinfect the original location.

Subterranean and dry-wood termite species are the ones responsible for damage to buildings and homes, and these pests must be detected to prevent serious long-term damage to property. They literally eat up the wood in a home and cause extensive damage by weakening and destroying the beams, walls, floors, and joists.

How Do I Detect A Termite Problem?

Termite Evidence

Termite Evidence

Termites are shy creatures and rarely make a public appearance in the open because they are usually tunneling underground or infesting the wood of buildings. Although a termite inspection by a pest control expert is the best way to find out if your home is infested, there are also some common tip-offs that may indicate there is a termite problem:

Mud tubes: These look like long quarter-inch diameter tubes running up and down outside walls, fences, floor joists, and other similar structures; they appear brown in color like mud. There are many stands of tubes, are hollow, and serve as a transportation system between underground termite nests and the upper levels where buildings are.

If a mud tube is broken, inspect the inside to see if small, cream-colored insects are there. If there are, these are worker termites.

Insect swarms: In some cases termites are mistaken for ants. During the warmer months of the year, termites swarm and can be identified by their cream-colored bodies, small wings, and narrow-long shapes.

Little holes and residue: The telltale signs that termites may be present in a building are little holes appearing in plaster or drywall. If termites are present, there will be small bits of soil that line the rim of the hole.

Wood that has been damaged by termites may appear sunken or dented and may be weak or soft when pushed upon. There may also be “sawdust” or dirt in and around wood.

Solving The Problem

Pest Control Tech Termite Damage

If you suspect that your home has a termite infestation, the best way to approach this potential problem is to call a professional pest exterminator for a termite inspection of the premises. He or she can tell you if your home or building is infested with termites.

The solution for termite elimination are varied and can incorporate insecticides, soil treatment, fumigation of the premises, or green methods using natural oils from fruits and plants, or by using methods to disrupt the insect’s digestion through the use of certain strains of microbes. For new home builders who want to greatly reduce the risk of a termite infestation before it even happens, there are several pre-construction treatment options available.

Check with your pest control professional to see what options are available to you.

Author Bio

Frank Ling writes for websites and companies and thinks it is fun to learn about so many different things, while on the job. His favorite food is anchovy pizza—something that not many others seem to appreciate; but he finds that there are always more slices left for him to eat.

 

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