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Dry conditions cause settling Foundations

Dry conditions can wreak havoc with foundations.

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Whew!  It’s been a HOT and DRY summer so far in Michigan.   In addition to record-high heat, with numerous 90+ degree days, dry conditions persist as southeastern Michigan has been in a drought with abnormally dry conditions of over 2 inches below normal rainfall. 

These dry conditions can wreak havoc with foundations.  The primary reason for foundation problems is the highly expansive nature of the clay soil on which many Michigan homes rest. The clay expands or contracts as its moisture content changes with the weather.  In dry conditions, as the soil begins to shrink away from the foundation because of the lack of rain, this allows for shifting and splitting making small cracks where water can easily seep in. 

As foundations contract and expand, it causes foundations to crack and heave, sometimes so much that in the home you will see things like cracks in walls, sticking doors and windows, floor seams showing separation, etc.

In these dry times, there are a few things homeowners can do to reduce foundation settlement:

1.  Keep the ground around your home’s foundation at a constant moisture level.

Keeping the soil around your home moist during warm and dry periods is key to maintaining a constant moisture content in the soil around the foundation. Water the soil evenly and around the entire foundation during extended dry periods. This should prevent a gap from opening between the soil and foundation edge.

2.  Cut and cap the roots of any large trees growing close to the foundation. 

The roots from a large tree or several medium size trees can consume more water from the soil than can be replaced with watering. This will limit the consumption of water from the soil below the foundation and may prevent settlement and cracks in the structure.  When a tree grows too close to a building to allow cutting and capping of the roots, it is advisable to remove the tree. 

3.  Properly grade the soil by filling in low spots and leveling off high spots adjacent to the foundation so that the surface of the soil slopes gradually away from the building.

A recommended slope is 1 inch per foot for a distance of 3 to 4 feet from the foundation.

4.  Control roof water runoff and help prevent soil erosion by using a gutter and downspout system.

This is especially important if a building has no eaves which overhang the walls or if the eaves are less than 1 foot wide.

If your foundation walls are showing signs of settlement by cracking, buckling, or bowing, call Foundation Systems of Michigan today for your free homeowner inspection.  We’ve repaired thousands of foundations in Michigan and can offer you an effective solution to your foundation problems.

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