The National Weather Service minces no words when it provides its latest round of drought statistics. Although there are fewer abnormally dry regions, the five years of water restrictions have taken their toll on the state’s overall soil and vegetation conditions. There is some hope that the heat will not be as high this year, but the three-month outlook warns that there is a good chance that intermittent bouts of extreme heat will occur.
Extreme Heat takes its Toll on a Home’s Foundation
Statistics do not tell the full story, but they provide a glimpse at the factors that contribute to the potential need for repair work of a foundation. The absence of water, combined with high heat, results in soil shrinkage underneath the structure. In turn, this affects the foundation of a house. Suddenly, the soil’s extreme dryness no longer provides the right type of stability for the foundation. Slabs settle, sink and crack.
So Does the Rainfall
Your first signs that there are problems are not necessarily the cracks along the chimney on the exterior. Rather, it may be something as innocuous as the windows that are difficult to close or open. This problem heightens as the seasonal rain soaks the soil and finds its way into the slab’s cracks. Slight shifting now occurs. Repeated cycles of drought and soil saturation with rainwater continue this cycle, which tends to worsen the foundation problems of a house.
How Shade Trees are Competing with the Structure
The DIY magazines and websites have told you repeatedly to plant shade trees around your home. As these trees grow up, their canopies shield the home from the sun, which keeps your interior cooler. In fact, shade trees are famous for helping you decrease your energy costs associated with air conditioning. The problem arises when well-established trees compete for moisture. An average mid-sized tree may soak up as much as 50 gallons of water from the soil. Many root systems grow near foundations and even underneath them. In short, although the trees are you allies when it comes to saving money on cooling costs, they are your enemies when you want to preserve the moisture content in the soil around the foundation.
Dealing with the Drought
It would be simplistic to say that ample watering takes care of the issue. While it is true that maintaining steady moisture levels of your soil would help, it is virtually impossible to do so when watering restrictions are enforced. This is also true for the effects of rainwater on the soil structure so many local homeowners deal with. There are, however, some options.
- Understand the problem. Drought-related foundation problems affect structures with slabs, basements and crawl spaces. This phenomenon is not limited to just one type of structure. When your home’s foundation connects to the soil in any way, it is in danger of experiencing adverse effects.
- Recognize the stressors. A large number of trees near the foundation cause problems. Brick-clad homes are heavier than those with siding, which further stresses the foundation.
- Heed the warning signs. Look for the windows that suddenly do not open so well anymore. Pay attention to the door that seems to stick. Look for separation of the eaves. Pay attention to small cracks that seem to grow larger and smaller, depending on the moisture level of the soil.
- Call for help early on. Foundation problems do not get better by themselves. Left unchecked and allowed to continue, next year’s drought adds to this year’s high heat issues and drying soil. Over the course of the years, your foundation will falter more and more. It is wise to call for help as soon as you notice the first signs of trouble.
When you heed the early warning signs, it is possible to install piers or take other measures that allow the structure to withstand the shifting soil. At Perma-Pier Foundation Repair, we understand that the fear of an unknown repair bill may keep you from making that call. We believe in flexibility when it comes to payment options. Contact us today to find out about our third-party promotional payment plans that make fixing your foundation affordable and let you peruse future drought statistics without fear.