The Midwest is a stunning place to live. The beautiful scenery is matched, however, by a changeable climate that can cause real problems for your home. The snap freezes and heavy downpours of fall and winter are matched by sporadic moderate to severe droughts. The damage these droughts can do to agriculture and vegetation is well understood. The damage that these conditions can do to your home, however, is less commonly discussed.
Shrinking Soil and Settlement – The Damages of Drought
The soil under your home is subject to weather conditions just as much your yard is. In fact, the effects of soil saturation, shrinkage, and shifting are often more pronounced beneath the foundation of a property. When a drought takes hold, the soil dries out. Most soil shrinks a little when it becomes excessively dry, but some soil is more sensitive than others. Bentonite soil and clay, for example, can shrink dramatically when they dry out. As such, when soils shrink huge cracks and gorges can open up. In your yard, this can look unseemly, but when it happens under your home, it can be dangerous.
Why Worry About Shrinkage?
The soil under your home shrinking and cracking may seem like one of the least pressing problems you have to deal with during a drought, but it could cause huge problems in the future. You see, when the soil under your home cracks like this, support is removed from some parts of your foundation.
This can cause cracks to form in your home’s foundation and basement floor. In the worst cases, sections of your foundation can sink into the cracks. This is bad enough, but when the drought breaks and the ground re-saturates, these huge cracks in your foundation will let dampness and water into your home.
Signs of Excessively Dry Soil
The most obvious sign that the soil beneath your home is dried out would be cracks opening up in your yard or the soil around your house. Likewise, if you see gaps between your landscaping and foundation, this is a warning sign you should not ignore. Unfortunately, most signs are not this obvious. In fact, the most common signs of shrinking soil under your home can be found in your basement.
- Cracks in the floor and walls
- Sagging floors
- Bowed walls
- Foggy windows
- Mold growth
These are all signs that your home has been affected by shrinking soil under its foundation. If you notice these signs, it is important that you call a professional to assess the health of your home and foundation.
Preventing Damage from Excessively Dry Soil
Of course, there’s nothing you can do to predict or prevent extreme weather. All you can do is act to mitigate the effects of extreme drought or soil saturation. While waterproofing and correct landscaping can prevent excessive dampness from damaging your home, preventing foundation settlement and soil shrinkage requires a different kind of solution. These are the easiest ways to keep your soil from shrinking during a drought.
Use Clever Drainage Systems
Your home and yard drainage systems are in place to make sure that water doesn’t flood your home, but they can also be used to direct that water to places where it is needed or to hold water until it is needed. Ask a local expert about your options.
Invest in Efficient Sprinklers
One of the most cost-effective and efficient solutions for excessively dry soil is a sprinkler system. Sprinklers will not only keep your lawn and gardens healthy, but they do so without wasting water. If you get an efficient sprinkler system you will sometimes be able to use it after drought causes a hose ban.
However, even if you have to shut the system off, the regular misting of your lawn and garden will stave off severe evaporation for longer.
Consider Your Garden’s Landscape
You can also protect your home and prevent cracking in your soil by carefully thinking about weather-resistant landscaping and gardening. Certain types of plants, for example, can develop complex root systems that will hold the soil around and under your home together as well as trap moisture. This will prevent the soil from drying out and can also help control saturation when it rains heavily.
If you’ve noticed problems in your home possibly brought on by drought and soil issues, contact Foundation Recovery Systems today for a free inspection and repair estimate. You’ll be able to find out what our team can do to help you protect your home from the damage that excessive evaporation and soil shrinkage can do. We offer many foundation drainage solutions along with the best basement waterproofing and foundation repair solutions to fit your repair needs.