As you may have heard, 2014 has officially been designated the hottest year in recorded history. According to the Japan Meteorological Association (JMA), one of the four major global temperature record-keepers, the average surface temperature of our planet was “the warmest since 1891, the start of the data.” It replaces 1998 in the top spot, while 2013 and 2010 are now tied for third.
Of course, the data has renewed debates about global warming and climate change. We won’t go into those contentious issues here; for us, what matters is how such high temperatures can impact your foundation.
Why Temperature Matters
In short, fluctuations in temperature are the single biggest reason your foundation may incur damage. Many who aren’t professionals in these matters assume that foundations expand and contract based on moisture and foundation. But in reality, it’s the soil around your foundations that does these movements. Moist soil tends to expand, pressing against your home’s foundation. As the soil dries out, it will contract, moving away from the foundation and giving it room to breathe, so to speak.
Unfortunately, hotter years mean more droughts, which leads the soil to contract more than usual. Your foundation will relish the breathing room – but only until the next rain fall. That’s when the parched soil eagerly soaks up new moisture, leading it to expand more than it did before. The pressure on your foundation, understandably, becomes more intense. That’s when some foundations begin to fracture and become unstable, which could have disastrous consequences for your home.
Of course, science has shown that warmer periods generally come with less rain and vice versa. If 2014 was truly the hottest year on record worldwide, we can only imagine how much building foundations worldwide were pressured into eventually cracking.
And cracking foundation is a dangerous proposition. As we’re sure you’re aware, the foundation of your home is what holds your entire home together. A compromised foundation could make the entire home both unstable and dangerous. Hearing about the hottest year on record should not just be interesting to those who want to discuss climate change. It should matter to every homeowner.
What You Can Do
Fortunately, there are certain things every homeowner can do to prevent these issues from occurring, regardless of temperature. If you’re worried about extended periods of heat and drought around your home, consider these methods to ensure the safety of your home.
- Watering around the foundation. As we mentioned above, droughts are dangerous because they parch the soil to the point where at the next opportunity, it will take up more moisture (and expand more) than ever before. To combat this scenario, make sure to regularly water the soil around your foundation to keep it at a steady moisture level, no matter the temperature. That way, the soil won’t contract too much, and you’ll reap the benefits once the next rain comes.
- Keeping the temperature steady. You can’t control the outside climate, but the temperature inside the home is still up to you. By keeping the temperature on a relatively steady level, you can ensure that the slab itself doesn’t expand or contract and remains stable.
- Contact an expert. Of course, you may still be worried that what you’re doing to keep your foundation intact and your home safe is not enough. In that case, don’t hesitate to call a foundation expert to check whether you can do anything else to improve your foundation maintenance during a hot year. We’d love to take a look and help you out, so contact us if you are worried.
Now that we know that the hottest year on record was last year, we can take better steps to ensure your foundation is prepared for the hot temperatures to come.