Home Foundation Problems: Drought Damage

November 11, 2013 Melanie Chaney

In San Antonio, when it rains, it floods. The rest of the time, the Alamo City seems to stay in a constant state of drought. Water restrictions go into effect, and residents struggle to keep their lawns green and plants growing. However, brown yards and dead plants aren’t the only problems an extended drought can cause. The home foundation problems that can arise when there is no moisture are less visible, but can be much more serious than dead grass.

You can see when your yard and landscaping are suffering from lack of water, but the same can’t be said about the foundation of your home. A severe drought can cause the soil underneath your home to dry out, resulting in shrinking and/or cracking. When this type of damage occurs, you may start to notice things like:

· Sloping floors

· Cracks in interior walls

· Doors and windows that do not shut properly

· Walls that bow inward

· Spaces between the walls and ceiling or walls and floor

· Cracks in interior floors

· Cracks in exterior bricks

Unfortunately, by the time you notice these home foundation problems, it’s time for foundation repairs. So how can you keep your home’s foundation safe and avoid these problems during a severe Texas drought? A few preventative steps you can take include:

· Maintaining moist soil around your home all year long. Don’t wait until a drought hits to focus on watering. Instead, keep the soil moist all year by laying a soaker hose around the exterior of the home, a few feet away from the foundation. Left running, the hose provides a consistent flow of water rather than a sudden gush. Depending on your water restrictions, it’s good to leave one running for a couple of hours each week.

· Examine the trees around your home. If they’re large, that means they have large, water-sucking roots that can pull moisture away from your foundation. Root barriers can sometimes be installed to combat this issue.

· Make sure you have good rain gutters and they are properly cleaned out for maximum efficiency. If not, the severe Texas rains that are almost as common as the droughts can cause foundations to expand, leading to even more shrinkage during drought conditions.

· Stay on the lookout for gaps in the soil near the foundation of your home and keep that soil damp.

· Try using mulch in any flowerbeds or other landscaping that is near the home’s foundation. Why? Because mulch can slow the evaporation of moisture.

Taking a few preventative measures all year long can help you avoid the above-mentioned home foundation problems. If you have already observed signs of damage from drought, don’t take a “wait and see” approach. Instead, call in an expert to assess the damage and advise you on what repairs may be needed.

Solutions like push pier and helical pier foundation systems offer a permanent foundation fix and can be installed year-round without extensive disruption to the structure, or exorbitant costs. Both systems work by transferring the weight-bearing load of the structure from unstable to more suitable soil. Not only does this address issues such as cracking walls, sticking doors and windows, and sloping floors, it can often result in the structure being lifted to its original position.

cracks , sloping floors , soil erosion , walls bowing