Does a Drought Cause Foundation Damage?

In Houston, when it rains, it floods. Most of the time, besides that, it is hot and dry. Sometimes, there are months that go by and it does not rain. The drought conditions created by this can negatively impact the soil. Not only do lawns turn brown and the grass fights for moisture, but the soil also retracts and pulls away from the home foundation. This is tough to avoid and can cause major problems if left unchecked.

Droughts Cause Soil to Shrink and Pull Away from Your Home

Prolonged dry spells can cause the clay soil beneath your foundation to shrink as water evaporates, resulting in gaps between the ground and your foundation. Over time, these gaps can cause your foundation to crack as the weight of your home presses down on them. This process, known as “settlement” or “settling,” can be accelerated by droughts and can have a significant impact on your foundation. While some settling is natural, droughts can cause it to occur at a faster rate and to a greater degree.

However, heavy rain following a prolonged drought can also be detrimental. The clay soil expands quickly as it absorbs water, causing rapid changes in the shape of the soil beneath your foundation, which can lead to cracks.

How to Identify Foundation Damage From Drought Conditions

One way to determine if your foundation is suffering from drought shrinkage is to inspect it yourself for signs and symptoms. These can include small cracks in concrete, uneven floors, and doors and windows not fitting properly in their frames. To check for subtle inclines in your flooring, you can use a bubble level or a marble test. Additionally, examining the soil around the perimeter of your house for gaps between the soil and the foundation can indicate shrinkage. If you notice shrinkage, preventative measures can be taken to prevent further damage.

If your foundation is uneven, it is likely that your flooring may also be affected. However, it may not be immediately obvious. A bubble level, also known as a spirit level, can be used to detect slight slopes in the floor where you suspect an issue. However, it can be challenging to detect a gradual slope over a large area with a standard level

The marble test is a simple yet effective way to detect subtle inclines in your home’s flooring that may indicate foundation issues. By placing a marble or small round object on the floor and observing its movement, you can detect unevenness. If the marble doesn’t move or rolls in a random direction, your flooring is likely level. But if it starts to roll in a specific direction, it may indicate an issue with the foundation.

In addition to inspecting your home for foundation damage, it’s also important to examine the soil. By walking around the perimeter of your house and looking for gaps between the soil and the bottom of the concrete foundation, you can check for shrinkage. However, this may be more challenging if you have a lot of landscaping or vegetation around your foundation. But if you are able to identify signs of shrinkage, preventative measures, such as proper drainage and soil compaction, can be taken to mitigate further damage.

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    How to Prevent Foundation Damage from Drought Conditions

    Foundational damage due to drought shrinkage does not occur overnight. By keeping an eye on the weather conditions, you can take preventive measures early on to minimize shrinkage and potentially prevent damage from occurring. If you notice an extended period of dry weather, it is important to take steps to protect your foundation.

    The most effective way to prevent drought damage to your home is to ensure that the soil surrounding it is adequately hydrated. This can be achieved by using a soaker hose or drip hose to water the area close to the foundation, allowing enough time for the water to fully penetrate the soil, this can be done a few times a day.

    During severe droughts, local authorities may enforce restrictions on watering times and frequency. In order to maximize water usage and comply with these regulations, it is crucial to be efficient when watering your soil. Avoiding significant runoff by using multiple shorter watering cycles instead of a single prolonged one can help you optimize your water usage.

    To prevent evaporation and retain soil moisture, it’s beneficial to have shrubs that can provide shade around the foundation. However, it’s important to avoid planting large trees with extensive root systems close to the foundation as they can cause damage. Additionally, applying a good layer of mulch can help maintain the soil’s moisture content.

    AAA Foundation Service

    If you live in the Houston area and notice signs that drought conditions may be impacting your home, give us a call today. Trust the professionals of AAA Foundation Service to provide honest information about any issues you may be facing. Call us today and we will get you setup with an in-depth inspection, free repair estimate, and a list of solutions to put your house back on solid ground.

    Chris Bartlett
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