Plumbing and Foundation

[John]: And you are listening to Ask the Experts Radio Show I’m John Wolf on Talk Radio 1190 and we have a doubly good show today. Normally at this time we have Roger Wakefield, and we do, and we’ve got another Roger W. Roger Williamson from the foundation field so we have the plumbing expert and the foundation expert here on talk radio 1190. Rogers, how are you doing this morning?

[Wakefield]: Fantastic, John. How are you?

[Williamson]: Doing great, beautiful day.

[John]: Sounds good, sounds good and let me just fire off a couple of phone numbers, in case someone’s about to hop out of the car and websites. Our usual guest, Roger. Roger Wakefield who’s here, his number 972-442-4101, 972- 442-4101. And as the show goes on we’ve got Roger Williamson of, easy to remember. 469-698- 8332. 469-698-8332. And if you have a question our number here: 214-787-1190. Normally we’re just talking plumbing at this time. Is it weird for you?

[Wakefield]: No. Normally we are, and it’s not weird because a lot of calls that we get come from foundation problems we do sewer and water tests for realtors all the time. We’ve got into the to a great relationship with Williamson Foundation, doing either pretest when people are buying, and if they have foundation problems always tell them about Williamson foundation because they do amazing work and have an amazing warranty and sometimes when Williamson foundation does a job they’ll call us in afterwards to check the plumbing to make sure that their customer is taken care of and doesn’t have an issue there that’s gonna lead to problems later.

 [John]:  And Roger Williamson

[Williamson]: Yes, sir.

[John]: What is your angle on it? As far as you know, helping people who are looking to buy a house. The same sort of thing and it seems sound so scary and you hear so many foundation commercials, and yes, my thought is just put some soil over that no one will notice it.

[Williamson]: Right, there’s a lot of put a bandaid on it and hope it doesn’t get worse out there. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work with foundation. We do work very closely with Texas Green Plumbing, with Roger Wakefield and really enjoy our working relationship because plumbing is such a vital issue when in regards to a foundation. Particularly a slab foundation which is most of what we have in North Texas. If you have a plumbing leak it will create a lot of movement, a lot of chaos that may or may not be correctable per se by foundation repair methods. Oftentimes we look at houses, and probably 15% of the inspections we do for people it looks more like they have a plumbing leak that an actual foundation repair issue, and so we’ll refer them to Texas Green and they get it looked at, get it inspected oftentimes they do find a leak, fix the leak and that often times fixes their foundation problem.

[John]: Okay you know, back to Roger Wakefield. Do the leaks ever add to the foundation problems or is it just, this is what it is and the expression is “it is what it is” or can one little thing, kind of like dental problems “I don’t feel like getting it done today but is it gonna get a lot worse if I wait two weeks?”

[Wakefield]: To be honest, that’s probably a better question for Roger. Here’s what I like about him. Roger is one of the most knowledgeable people in foundation I’ve ever met and dealt with. I actually started working with them because he’s got a young lady that works with him named Kasey. And I do a lot of networking, as we’ve talked about before, and I was at a master networks meeting one day, which if anybody out there wants to learn about networking master networks is a great place to do it, but this young lady stands up behind me doing her 30-second commercial to tell people about Williamson foundation and the thing that she said that struck me, she said “the first foundation Roger did thirty-one years ago, we still warranty that job and if those people called the day and something was wrong we would go fix it. It doesn’t matter who owns the house now we would go fix that because we warranty our work forever” And as soon as I heard that I’m like “oh my God” I want to get your card right and that’s unheard of it’s a very rare experience to deal with a foundation company that truthfully honestly warranties their work forever like they do.

[John]: So Roger let me ask you, does the plumbing, if there’s a leak under the house lead to more foundation problems or anything like that?

[Williamson]: Yeah, most of the time it does. The soil here in North Texas and throughout much of Texas is very highly expansive clay soils and when clay soil gets wet it expands, when it gets dry it contracts. But the other facet of clay soil is it doesn’t transmit moisture very well. So if you have a leak underneath your house, the area near that leak, the soil is getting really wet and it’s expanding, it’s moving and the expansive forces of the soil are far greater than the weight of the house. So it will start to move the house around which can indeed create an actual foundation problem. Sometimes if you catch it early enough you fix the leak and things will settle back down. Sometimes if it goes long enough the actual movement created by the leak will damage the foundation to the point that you actually need foundation repair as well. And let me just say that the alternative can happen as well. The foundation can move from natural causes which can then in turn damage the plumbing and create… So it’s, we’ve really got a chicken and the egg. Sometimes the foundation moves and causes the plumbing problem which then exacerbates the foundation problem. Sometimes the plumbing itself is the root cause and creates the… It goes first and creates the movement. It’s almost impossible in most cases to determine which came first and where the root cause was. \\

[John]: It almost sounds to me as though we’d be well off if, instead of plastic pipes or copper pipes under the house there’s a some sort of like flexi-pipes. So that if the slab moved a little bit, at least the things would have less, you know less stress on the exact mold of the pipes underneath.

[Wakefield]: I think that’s something Roger and I may work on inventing right after the show.

[Williamson]: Well and you know I have seen a lot of the newer water supply lines are a flexible pipe, which I think is great inside the house. Outside the house these plastic pipes for water and gas in the yard, they kill us because we touch them with a shovel and they burst and so I’m not a real fan of those out there. But most of the leaks that we see in relation to foundation problems are actually sewer line leaks, not supply line leaks. Supply line leaks usually don’t go very long before somebody figures out something’s happening. Either we’ve got water, we can hear water running at night or we get a water bill that just is ridiculously inordinate. It’s usually a sewer line leak which will not show up on your water bill. It also in most cases even though you have a sewer line leak, everything flows just fine. You don’t necessarily get blockages in your sewer line in a lot of cases but every time water flows through that pipe, it’s leaking out. I’m not sure how a flexible sewer line would work, but it is an interesting concept. It would save a lot of issues because the soil moves a lot, foundation moves a lot, the sewer lines are embedded in the soil and so if there’s a differential movement between the house and the soil a foot down, 2 feet down, something’s got to give.

[John]: Right, flexible lines I imagine, could buckle a little and close up on themselves. I think of as a thing of car problems with water, where they didn’t have your hose that you needed in the middle of the desert so “we got this flexi hose here” But it can it can knot up on itself.

[Williamson]: Well in the soil and like I say, the soil constantly expands and contracts constantly seasonally with moisture changes. So a flexible pipe is is gonna get crushed, basically. When the soil starts to expand and then your four inch pipe becomes a one and a half inch pipe and you may not be able to get everything down it that needs to go down it.

[John]: What type of pipe do you like to see when you’re doing foundation? What do you feel safest with?

[Williamson]: Well really, that’s more of a plumbing question. But I will say that cast-iron is our least favorite because over time cast-iron pipes rot, and when they rot they weaken. So a little foundation movement from foundation repair or just foundation movement can cause them to break. PVC seems to hold up better over time, and in my opinion and this is a one for Roger Wakefield is probably a little easier to fix.

[Wakefield]: PVC has some flexibility to it. That’s what’s nice about it, and if you do have foundation problems and you have a PVC drainage line, it’s gonna give a little bit. It’s gonna move a little bit because if the ground has got, as you say wet and expanded and moved around that. It’s probably pushing that pipe just a little bit with it and cast-iron there has no flexibility. You’re talking iron pipe and as Roger Williamson said once you put that pipe in ground it starts rusting, it is what it is. Now they have a coating on it and a liner inside of it that helps prevent that, but over time it can still happen so, therefore you’ve got a pipe that starts rotting and your house foundation moves an inch, that pipe is not gonna bend an inch it’s gonna break.

[John]: Okay, what sort of problems do you see everywhere? People are contracting with you to look at a house they’re thinking of buying that causes you to call Roger Williamson?

[Roger]: If we go in and do a plumbing or sewer test, to be honest if we go in even before we get to the test if we walk through the house or around the house and see major movement, any major movement at all, I may tell them look you may want to call a foundation company first. And we can talk more about that later, but I don’t necessarily and I’m gonna go ahead and do a sewer and water test if they’re like: look we’re thinking about buying the house so let me know what we’ve got, because Roger may come out and say “okay you’ve got you know a quarter inch off here” or something, so it’s not gonna be anything major but it kind of depends on where they’re at in the buying stage. If I’m representing a buyer I’ll go out and do a sewer and water test, but we do a visual inspection of the house and if we see anything major, major cracks, major separation, doors sticking, different things walking through the house we may say: hey look you may want to call Williamson Foundation and just get them out to look at it. They’re good people to deal with.

[John]: Okay, now we’ve got to take a break in a second but first you say a quarter inch is not that big a deal, what about, what level, what size would you say is something that you better get the other Roger W out there?

[Wakefield]: Well and we don’t… If I see cracks that are big enough that: that’s a crack, it’s not just not a crack in the mortar or something, if it’s starting to separate I always tell them you may want to get this checked out, because if I’m buying a house, I don’t want to buy a house and then know I’ve got to spend five, ten, twenty thousand dollars on it.

[John]: I agree. We are speaking with Roger Williamson and Roger Wakefield. Roger Wakefield of and Roger Williamson of This is talk Radio 1190 I’m John Wolf on the Ask the Experts Radio Show.

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