Dawson Foundation Repair
Dawson Foundation Repair
Dawson Foundation Repair

713-668-2110 (Houston)
214-234-8421 (Dallas)
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2014 Weather Recap

Posted by on Jan 25, 2015 in Drought | 0 comments

2014 Weather – Hottest Year in Recorded History

The world has been keeping temperature records for 135 years and it was announced recently that 2014 was the hottest year of all. Multiple organizations, including NASA, the official weather agency of Japan, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have confirmed or agreed on this basic fact. Scientists have stated that the world is warmer now than anytime in the past 100 years and it is likely warmer than anytime in the last 5000 years.

This announcement follows similar “hottest year in history” announcements in 2010 and 2005. According to NOAA, additional records were set including the “hottest December” in recorded history and the “hottest six month period” in 2014. Scientists said that these new records were more than incremental increases. The word “shattered” was used by some and other scientists have stated that every continent on earth set some type of new high temperature record.

38 Years of Higher Temperatures

NASA’s Gavin Schmidt has stated that the increase continues in the buildup of greenhouse gases and it would be no surprise to him if 2015 is another record year. Data from NOAA has shown that 2014 was the latest in a 38 year continuous string of temperatures warmer than the 20th century average.

So Why are We so Focused on the Weather?

Because we know that hot, dry weather is the single greatest factor causing concrete slab foundation damage. Hot, dry weather will create evaporation and significant moisture loss in the clay soils that are common in Texas. When clay soils lose moisture they shrink in volume and “pull away” from the foundation. When that happens a portion of the concrete foundation has lost contact with the soil – it has lost its support. When this area of the soil becomes large enough the slab foundation will crack and fall until it reaches something to support it – which is the shrunken soil.

The 2014 weather and drought in Texas was more severe in the Dallas and Plano areas than in Houston. We saw significant numbers of homeowners in these areas call us after observing one of the warning signs of foundation damage.


The most common solution for these homeowner is to install support columns under the perimeter foundation beam. Usually the hot, dry weather will affect the perimeter of the home first. Unfortunately, foundation damage is not limited to the perimeter. It can also be present in the interior of the home.

The Highest Quality Foundation Repair method available in Texas is the Bell Bottom Pier method. It is far better than the cheaper stacked, concrete cylinders method. Bell Bottom Piers will support 5.8 times more weight and has a “footprint” 13 times greater than these cheaper concrete cylinder methods.

Call Dawson should you have any questions, or want a FREE foundation inspection and estimate.

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Dallas Drought 2014

Posted by on Oct 19, 2014 in Drought | 0 comments

Dallas Drought of 2014 (started in 2010)

The summer of 2014 is finally over and the results for Dallas are: “still in drought conditions.” It was a tough summer for the north central portion of Texas and for most of Texas in general. And it follows the drought of 2013 and the worst single year drought in Texas history in 2011. This is all part of a longer term drought that began in 2010 according to many climatologists. And the effect in the home foundation repair industry has been dramatic.

Approximately 70% of Texas was experiencing drought during the middle of the summer this year. To make matters worse, human climate change seems to be playing a role also. Last year a state climatologist testified in the Texas Legislature that average temperatures in Texas have risen 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last forty years.

Many fingers are pointed at the “La Nina” weather pattern for the the recent series of annual droughts in Texas and the southern United States. This weather pattern is created when the surface temperatures of the Pacific ocean are a bit cooler than normal. This creates a climate effect that produces drier and hotter weather in the southern portions of the United States.This map show the intensity of the 2014 drought in Texas and in the Dallas area.

Impact on Dallas Homes and Foundations

For the most part homeowners in Dallas, Plano, Garland, Arlington, and other nearby communities are at the mercy of the weather. However, the quality of the homebuilder’s construction will also play a role. That is, it is critical that the home builder properly compacted the soil before pouring the concrete slab foundation. And the thickness of the slab foundation is very important – and unfortunately most homebuilders choose to build minimally functional foundations (thin). And structural engineers will tell you there is a big difference in performance between steel rebar and “post tension cables” – with a decided preference for steel rebar for its strength and rigidity.

Preventative Tips

There are a few steps homeowners can take to minimize the effects of drought (soil movement) on their home foundation. However, keep in mind that these steps will only have minimal effect during a moderate or severe drought. It is virtually impossible for a homeowner to put enough water into the surrounding soil to negate the soil’s moisture loss during a drought.

  • Remove large shrubs and bushes that are near the home’s foundation
  • Remove trees that are too close to the foundation – the “drip line” should be at least 10 feet from the foundation perimeter
  • Install root barriers to prevent tree roots from withdrawing water from the foundation perimeter
  • Install soaker hoses to maintain a steady moisture content for the soil (this will have little effect during a moderate or severe drought)
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Texas MegaDroughts

Posted by on Jan 15, 2014 in Drought | 0 comments

What is the Future of Texas Water – MegaDroughts?

A recent report published by Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, describes the facts and challenges Texas faces with rainfall, water and drought in the future. Unfortunately, Texas MegaDroughts may be in our near future, a future that can only be described as somewhere between very difficult to life-changing.

Water Line Break in Plano, Texas

Soil Movement breaks Iron Water Line

2011 was a year to remember in Texas. Since rainfall records began in 1895, it was the driest year in history. The drought of 2011 cost Texans billions of dollars in damages, higher costs, lost income, and more. In late August of 2011 the city of Houston was grappling with 1033 leaks in the city’s water system. Although not as severe, the drought of 2013 was also very damaging.

The report included comments about the clay soils of Texas and how they react to changes in moisture content – a topic of great interest to homeowners in Texas. “Much of Texas is covered in clay-rich soils that swell when wet and shrink when soil moisture evaporates. That shrinkage can cause the soil to buckle, damaging foundations, roads, and water and sewer lines.” page 7, The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond, by Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

The report also stated that there are cycles of drought that have affected Texas for centuries. Researchers have confirmed these cycles by studying tree rings and other data. The report discussed “megadroughts” which are severe droughts that can last decades. These megadroughts were described as “infrequent but regular” events in the state of Texas. It has been about 60 years since Texas experienced its last megadrought and the implication is that we may have begun a new megadrought in 2011.

The Consequences of a Texas Megadrought

  • Farmers and ranchers would have to make drastic changes. Bankruptcy faced by many farmers and ranchers – fewer crops and livestock. Higher prices for food.
  • Water efficient appliances would become mandatory (dishwashers, clothes washers, toilets)
  • Cisterns will become popular
  • All outside watering of plants, trees and grass will be banned
  • Wastewater will be recycled for irrigation and human consumption.
  • Utility rates would increase dramatically because of their use of water for cooling equipment
  • Desalination of sea water will occur around the Texas coast
  • Water and water rights will be bought and sold like a valuable commodity

Any drought is very damaging to the concrete slab foundations built on clay soils.  When the soil shrinks dramatically it pulls away from the outside perimeter of the foundation.  With nothing supporting that portion of the foundation the slab will crack and collapse until it reaches some support – which happen to be the shrunken soil that is several inches lower.  Any existing foundation problem will become dramatically worse during a drought.  Should you have any questions call us for a Foundation Inspection.

Below are links to the report mentioned in this blog article and to a newspaper article about the 2011 drought in Houston.

The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond

When it comes to water, Houston can’t catch a break – Houston Chronicle, by Cindy Horswell

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Drought Map of Texas

Posted by on Nov 17, 2013 in Drought | 0 comments

A map of Texas drought conditions in September 2011.The Next Texas Drought

It is said that death and taxes are the only two things in life you can be certain will occur.  Well, we think that you can add a Texas Drought or two or three to that list. In the last three years we have had two very damaging droughts – 2011 and 2013. The drought of 2011 was the worst in recorded history (records began in 1895) and a glance at the image of the Drought Map of Texas will confirm this fact. To give you an idea of its severity, thousands of trees were killed in Memorial Park and throughout Houston during the summer of 2011. In addition, Houston’s water department could not keep pace with all of the broken water lines. At one time there was a backlog of over 1033 broken water lines throughout Houston that the water department could not repair because of limited manpower and crews.  Wow!

Why 1033 Unrepaired / Broken Water Lines?

In the summer of 2011 Houston had a backlog of 1033 broken water lines. At that time 15 new broken water lines were being added to this backlog every day. The reason? Dramatic soil movement. The clay soils in the eastern half of Texas have the unique and unfortunate ability to absorb water like a sponge. These clay soils can also lose water and moisture like a sponge. The result is that the volume of the soil will swell when wet and shrink when dry.  When an area experiences very hot and very dry weather then the clay soils will dramatically shrink in volume. However, iron or concrete water lines buried in the clay soils do not shrink. So when these tremendous pressures of volume shrinkage are placed on water lines – which are not shrinking – failure can occur.  And that is how Houston had a backlog of 1033 broken water lines with new breaks every day – soil movement.

Soil Movement and your Home Foundation

The Texas droughts of 2011 and 2013 produced thousands of damaged home foundations. The clay soils shrank dramatically in volume while the concrete slab foundation did not.  This produces some of the same physical stresses on home foundations as city water lines. So if you see any warning signs of foundation damage then it would be wise to ask for an inspection.

Drought Map of Texas

Want to see a map of the current drought situation in your city or county?  Just click on the following link and you will see an updated version of the Texas Drought Map.

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