Drought’s Devastating Impact on Foundations

Drought and Foundation Cracks

The St. Louis region is in a drought which can wreak havoc on a home’s foundation, sidewalks, and driveways. Here are some potential effects of drought on a foundation:

1. Soil shrinkage: During a drought, the lack of rainfall and reduced moisture in the soil can cause it to shrink. This shrinkage can lead to the settlement or sinking of the foundation as the soil beneath it contracts. As a result, the foundation may become uneven or develop cracks.

2. Soil contraction: In some cases, the soil may become excessively dry and hard during a drought. This occurs when the moisture content decreases, and the soil particles press together more tightly. As the soil shrinks, lack of soil support under and around the home will allow cause downward or vertical settlement. If foundation settlement occurs, installation of steel piers may be needed to stabilize or lift the home back into position.

3. Soil erosion: Drought conditions can also lead to soil erosion. When the soil becomes excessively dry, it loses its ability to retain water, and wind or water erosion can occur more easily. If the soil around the foundation erodes, it can create voids or empty spaces beneath the foundation, undermining its stability and allowing water to more easily enter the interior of the home, once rain does eventually return.

4. Foundation movement: The combination of soil shrinkage, consolidation, and erosion can cause the foundation to move or shift. This movement can result in cracks forming in the foundation walls or floor, as well as misalignment of doors and windows. In severe cases, the foundation may become significantly damaged, compromising the structural integrity of the building.

To prevent foundation issues due to a drought, it’s critically important that your yard be watered 2-3 times per week, and this includes watering all the way to your foundation walls. It’s equally important to note that the severity of those mentioned above can vary depending on the duration and intensity of the drought, as well as the soil type and the design and construction of your foundation. Regular inspection and maintenance of the foundation, particularly during and after drought periods, can help identify any issues early on and prevent further damage.

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