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How Droughts Affect Your Home’s Foundation

Severe drought can be the downfall of your Florida or Georgia foundation, causing differential settlement or water problems down the line. Alpha Foundations is here to help.

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In the moderately rainy eastern seaboard, many consecutively sunny days can be cause for celebration. But after weeks and months of no precipitation, crops begin to suffer, water supplies diminish, and your foundation can begin to crack. 

Drought is an insidious culprit for many different foundation problems—let’s walk through what problems can occur, why, and how homeowners can fix them for good. 

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    What Happens To Soil During A Drought?

    The Florida state soil is called Pamunkey, which consists of a sandy top layer and nutrient-rich clay sublayers. Though Pamunkey soil is found primarily in the coastal tidewater region, all of Florida is rife with nutrient-rich clay subsoil. Florida’s neighbor to the north, also sports clay subsoil with the Florida state soil, Sassafrass. 

    While these soils are ideal for agriculture, they can be destructive to your home as moisture levels ebb and flow. Clay soil is categorized as expansive soil. When expansive soils encounter rainwater and increase in moisture content, they expand.  The reverse also occurs in weather that’s excessively dry or lacking in moisture—expansive soils will shrink during dry conditions. 

    How Does Dry Soil Affect Your Foundation? 

    It goes without saying that the soil beneath your home is meant to give your foundation the support it needs to stand strong. When that soil dries up, shrinks, and even cracks, your foundation will be at risk. 

    Air pockets 

    When soil shrinks, it leaves open pockets of air between the surface of the dried soil and your home’s foundation. This will weaken your home’s structure, as it relies on stable soil to rest and settle on. There can be an added risk if the construction contractors who built your home didn’t properly tamp or press down on the soil before the foundation was built. This predisposes the soil to air pockets which can be exasperated during drought conditions. Not only can they form beneath your home, but they can also form beneath the concrete in your driveway, sidewalk, patio, and concrete garage floor. Look out for: 

    • Large cracks in your driveway, patio, porch steps, and sidewalk
    • Uneven or unlevel concrete 
    • Cracks in your exterior foundation wall 
    • Sinking or uneven concrete steps

    Hydrostatic Pressure

    When the first drought-ending downpour happens, your home may not be in the clear just yet. The expansive soil around your home will soak up the water like a sponge, and due to its expansive quality, will enlarge. Expansive soils are known to experience up to a 10% increase in volume without proper drainage. 

    When the soil expands due to moisture, it can exert hydrostatic pressure. The pressure from the expanding soil applies force to the walls of your basement or upward pressure on your concrete slab or crawl space. This can cause cracks and fissures in your foundation, allowing for moisture to sneak into your home. Watch out for these problems signs of hydrostatic pressure after the end of a drought:

    • Foundation cracks 
    • Bowing basement walls 
    • Large cracks on your concrete floor 
    • Undetectable musty or dank smells 
    • Mold in your basement or crawl space 
    • Leaks in your basement walls or crawl space  

    Differential Settlement

    Differential settlement is when part of your foundation settles into the earth at a faster rate than the rest. The phenomenon is the result of the soil beneath your home changing volume and moving due to soil shrinkage. Differential settlement will appear to you as cracks in your exterior walls or bricks and even your drywall—sort of like a piece of your home is breaking off and sinking into the ground. This happens gradually, so it’s not something that you can physically feel happening all at once, but it is cause for concern. If you notice any of these common problems signs, contact your local foundation experts as soon as possible:

    • Uneven floors 
    • Sticking doors and windows 
    • Cracked or tilting chimneys 
    • Stair step cracks on bricks 
    • Spreading cracks in your drywall 

    How Can You Strengthen Your Home after Drought Damage? 

    To ensure your home is prepared for any change in weather conditions or soil moisture, Alpha Foundations Foundation Repair has custom solutions that address your individual home’s structural damage. With Alpha Foundations, you can have faith that your home will stand strong rain or shine. 

    Foundation Piers 

    Foundation piers are hollow steel beams installed below ground to support your home when the soil beneath it cannot. This repair method restores your home to its upright and level position and will continue to support your home for years to come.   

    PolyRenewal™  Injection 

    PolyRenewal injections are the cleanest, quickest, and most effective form of concrete lifting. When your driveway and sidewalk have cracked and sunk due to air pockets in the soil, Alpha Foundations can inject polyurethane into the concrete. You can see the effects of this solution take place as it will level your concrete in 15 minutes, and you will be able to walk or park your car on the driveway within the same day. 

    BasementGutter™ Interior Drain System 

    During dry weather, water drainage and grading in your yard may be altered due to a lack of regular landscaping and watering. When the first rain appears, water may begin to collect around your home and foundation, further enabling hydrostatic pressure and leaks. 

    BasementGutter is an interior drainage system that collects excess water from the soil around your home and safely transfers it to a safe drainage location. The system works on its own and around the clock to ensure an appropriate level of moisture in the wake of a drought. 

    Before or After A Drought, Call Alpha Foundations For A Free Inspection 

    Droughts can be stressful for many reasons, and foundation issues may only make it worse. That’s why we offer free inspections of your whole home so our team can get to the root of the problem, and solve it for good. 

    Alpha Foundations is a repair company that understands and doesn’t settle for one-size-fits-all foundation solutions. We provide long-term repairs that fit your unique home, so you can rest easy knowing your home is safe when a drought occurs. Contact us for your home inspection and no-obligation quote, today.

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