The Texas Drought and How It Affects Your Home

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parts of north and central Texas will continue to see drought this summer. Unlike some other areas of the country, when a drought hits north-central Texas, the residents have more to worry about than brown lawns and restricted water usage. They get concerned about drought damage to their homes. That’s because large areas of Texas have expansive clay soil which behaves like a sponge that expands when it’s moist and contracts when it dries.

How The Texas Drought Affects Your Home

During a drought, the soil around your home’s foundation shrinks. The soil directly underneath the foundation’s center tends to stay moist compared to the soil at its edge which gets exposure to the sun and dry air. This means the soil at the edge is shrinking more than the soil below the foundation’s center. This differential shrinkage means that your foundation is sitting on soil that’s mound shaped rather than perfectly flat. This causes the foundation to crack and shift, which in turn distorts and damages the structure of your house.

Some of the specific types of home damage are also the very signs that indicate a damaged foundation. These are described below.

Signs Of Drought Damage To Your Foundation

  • Cracks in the brickwork. Look for large and continuous cracks that often follow the mortar between the bricks. Tiny hairline cracks in individual bricks are nothing to worry about. It’s the longer more sizeable cracks that indicate a stressed structure.
  • Separation between different structures of your home. Examples include a chimney that’s separated from the house, a foundation that’s pulled away from the wall, or a gap where two external walls of your house are supposed to meet together.
  • Gas or water meters look crooked. This is caused by shifts in the wall to which the meters are attached.
  • Sticking windows and doors.
  • Bowed foundation walls or foundation cracks.
  • Cracks in the garage floor and other concrete floors in the home. Offset cracks are a sure sign of structural shifting.
  • Gunshot sound. Sometimes the foundation may make this sound when it cracks or pulls away from a wall.
  • Cracked plaster and sheet rock.
  • Uneven floors.

How To Avoid Foundation Damage

While there is no fool-proof system for avoiding a drought damaged foundation, there are steps you can take to minimize its occurrence.

Set up an irrigation zone around your foundation. This keeps the nearby soil intact. Lay down a soaker hose about 12 to 18 inches away from the foundation. The soaker hose should have a pressure restrictor and a timer.

Don’t allow water to pool next to the foundation. The ground should be sloped so that rainwater flows out and away from your house. Place extensions on your downspouts so that water discharge occurs at a good distance from the foundation. Don’t allow air conditioning condensate to discharge too close to your house.

Another potential problem are tree roots growing next to or underneath your foundation. Thirsty trees can draw a lot of moisture. The larger they are, the more moisture they require. This means that their roots next to your foundation are rapidly drying up the soil. You may have to remove the roots and install tree root barriers.

What To Do If Your Foundation Is Damaged

If your foundation is damaged, getting professional help is imperative. Foundation restoration should precede other structural repair work in your home such as window or door replacement or fixing internal or external wall damage. Otherwise, the foundation leveling process may undo this repair work.

Foundation repair often makes use of piers that firmly anchors the foundation and restores it back to its level condition. However, your particular situation will determine the type of repair method used. While foundation repair seems like a major operation, it’s often done in a few days. If your foundation needs repair, get it done immediately before your home suffers further damage. Contact us at Perma-Pier Foundation Repair and we’ll come over and do an evaluation

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