When you think about the word ‘drought’ you likely immediately think of our wildlife and plants that typically suffer the most in such unkind conditions. However, your home should also be considered when dealing with drought; especially persistent drought. Your home can in fact become damaged due to drought but if you pay attention, you can recognize the signs of damage and take action to prevent future expensive repairs.
You likely notice the effects of a drought on your lawn; brown and dry, crunchy grass and shrubs, etc. However, the soil under your home is also susceptible to damage even though it’s not exposed like your lawn is. Without the water it needs, the soil under your home can harden and even move, causing problems with your foundation. If not noticed right away or taken care of at the first sign of an issue, you could be faced with costly repair expenses in the near future.
Detect Drought Damage Early
Just like your yard, if you’re noticing cracks anywhere in or outside your home, it could be a sign that the drought has started wreaking havoc on your home (foundation). There are certain areas of the home where the cracks will usually appear when the foundation moves or shifts, including:
- Corners of the windows and doors.
- Drywall or plaster surfaces that are caulked.
- Along concrete blocks – they will typically look like a staircase.
- The ground level floor, siding or brick exterior.
- Gaps surrounding the baseboards, cabinets or outdoor trim.
- Areas where your exterior walls and foundation meet.
If you’re noticing any cracks that appear shortly after you build your home, this is actually normal and natural because the home is ‘settling’ or ‘curing.’ However, if you’re noticing these cracks all of a sudden and your home isn’t newly built, it is time to be concerned. The best way to go about this is hiring a qualified inspector to come inspect the home. Homes that don’t have basements are generally more protected from drought damage but anytime the soil begins moving or sinking you should be on the lookout for such damage.
If you already notice foundation cracks along your foundation, inspect them more thoroughly. You can tell by running your fingers across the crack if the surfaces surrounding the crack are on the same plane. If they aren’t, your foundation could definitely be experiencing problems right now. Inspect all around the foundation, taking note any areas showing concrete or soil moving away from your foundation. On the inside of your home, take note of any doors or windows that aren’t working correctly; sticking or no longer lining up correctly. These are signs of possible foundation problems.
How to Prevent Damage from Drought
If you care about your home then you likely care about saving what money you can in terms of maintenance and repairs for your home. Protecting your home from drought will save you a lot of money in the long-run. While soil that is moving or sinking can definitely damage your home’s structure, it can also affect what’s underneath; utility and sewer lines. If damage to these occur your foundation could ultimately fail altogether.
A few precautions you can take right now include:
- Regularly take note of any surfaces (both inside and outside) that have cracks or other significant changes.
- Regularly inspect the outside perimeter of your home for any problems around the foundation; gaps, cracks, etc.
- Consider having a water system installed around the home’s perimeter to ensure your foundation is always moist; this will lower the chance of the soil moving or shifting, especially during a drought.
You might have had to read that last precaution a second time; a watering system? You might be surprised to find that many homeowners already have this in place and had it installed when they had their lawn watering system installed. It helps keep your entire span of ground with a proper moisture balance.
Worried it may be expensive? The commercial watering systems are actually more affordable than many think or you could do it yourself with a timer and a soaker hose. Now, you don’t want to over-saturate the foundation’s soil nor water it too little; talk to a professional to get a recommended watering schedule for your specific needs.
Cautions When Facing Drought Damage
If you have reason to believe that a drought has already started causing damage to your foundation it’s time to call up an expert to come inspect and go over whatever they may find!