According to the National Weather Service, drought conditions are expected to persist through the summer across many western states. If you’re a homeowner in a drought-prone area, that means monitoring water usage, thinking ahead to fire prevention and safety, and maintaining landscaping with drought tolerance in mind.

But there’s one more thing to think about:  your foundation.

Drought threatens the integrity of your home’s structure in many ways and can end up costing tens of thousands in foundation repairs if problems are not caught early. Here are some of the most common signs of foundation stress or damage, and what you can do about it.



What’s Going On Under Your House?

When dry conditions persist, the soil under your home can lose enough moisture that it shifts and buckles, causing your foundation to crack. When rain finally returns, the soil soaks it up and expands, lifting up your foundation again, which can cause more cracking or unevenness. If your home, like most, has tree roots under it then the roots can draw moisture from the soil, adding to the problem.



Signs You Have a Problem…

A cracking foundation can cause a domino effect of problems up through the house. Here are some signs you might have issues.

    • Cracks in rigid wall surfaces such as brick, concrete, stucco, tile, and drywall
    • Windows and doors that begin sticking or become misaligned
    • Leaks in the basement
    • Broken pipes
    • Gaps along cabinets, baseboards or outdoor trim
    • Misalignment where your foundation meets an exterior wall
    • Floors that sink or slope
    • Cracked basement floor
    • Cracked or shifted chimneys
    • Cracked asphalt and pavement on driveways or walkways



What To Do About It

Do a careful inspection of your home inside and out. If you see cracks, take photos, measure, and record them so you have a history to compare with in the future. If the cracks are minor or few, just keep an eye on them. If you see anything serious or worrying, contact a professional. You want to prevent any foundational issues before they cause serious (and expensive) damage. Here are some preventive measures you can take to keep the ground under your home moist:

    • Install a water system around your home.
    • Add a few inches of mulch to your landscaping area.
    • Plant drought-tolerant and fire-resistant shrubs and groundcover, which will hold moisture in the ground and keep it shaded, preventing evaporation.
    • Keep up with weeding (weeds are thirsty).
    • Plant any new trees far enough from the foundation to keep roots at a distance.
    • As always in drought-prone areas, practice water conservation inside and outdoors.

Catching foundation problems before they get serious entails some extra time and attention on your part but will help you avoid costly repairs or even replacement of your foundation.




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