Can a drought harm my home?

The National Drought Mitigation Center | University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The recent years of summer heat and lack of rain has impacted more than the farmers and their crops. The drought has impacted most homeowners throughout the Midwest. The possible damage from a drought is more than a brown lawn and scorched tree leaves. According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, a drought is impacting approximately 93 percent of Missouri’s population. In addition to the vegetation slowly drying, a drought can harm your home’s foundation. How? As the soil around your home’s foundation dries out, due to the lack of rain, the soil shrinks, leaving areas around footings and foundation walls lacking in support. This lack of support can cause foundation issues.

Issues

  • Settling.
    Settling is the most common effect of the lack of rain and its impact on your home. When a house settles it begins to sink into the ground, typically this occurs with the soil beneath the foundation shifts causing the foundation to become structurally unstable. Sometimes the settling of a home shows with visible cracks, most often in the home’s basement. Far too often homeowners ignore these cracks and the problems worsen. As settling occurs, windows and doors have issues opening and closing while cracks in the drywall make themselves visible.
  • Broken pipes.
    Your home’s foundation supports a variety of pipes and systems that maintain the home. When the footings and or concrete slabs or foundation walls shift, the water or sewer pipes can be compromised and break. USA Plumbing recommends an annual plumbing inspection to ensure that there is no damage to sewer or water pipes.

Maintain

  • Water.
    A garden needs a water to thrive, as does a foundation. During the hottest months of the summer consider watering the area 3 feet from your home’s foundation. Do not spray water directly on the foundation walls or in the areas next to the foundation.
  • Awareness.

Be aware of changes in your home. Watch for doors that don’t open or close, cracks in sheetrock above doorways, cracks in the foundation walls. Sometimes tile floors will crack and separate.  Porches and Decks can pull away from the home. Document changes as you see them occur.

Contact a Professional

Evaluation and Recommendations: Piers? Bracing? Grade and Drainage Corrections? French Drains? We recommend you hire an experienced Professional Engineer to examine the property.  The Engineer will evaluate the current condition and determine if there is movement in the foundation walls, inward – outward – upward – downward. Movement in any direction can cause damage to your home. An experienced Engineer will determine the cause and origin of the changes, and make recommendations on how to stop the movement and repair any current damages.

A typical structural evaluation will take one to two hours:  30-60 minutes to evaluate, measure, examine the property and 30-60 minutes to explain to the homeowner what is concerning or what is not concerning. If the Engineer determines you need to make corrections – changes – repairs, then the Engineer’s Recommendation report will serve as your “recipe for repair”.  You can give copies of the report to contractors to get estimates of repair costs.

 

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