The severe drought in the Midwest is affecting many homeowners that are forced to repair damage to their homes’ foundations. Local foundation repair companies and structural engineers can’t keep up with the torrent of phone calls and waiting list extend for several weeks just to get an inspection or quote. The culprit is the clay soils throughout Kansas and Missouri that becomes baked by months of dry weather. The soils act much like a sponge, as they dry out they shrink and pull away from the foundation and as they get wet they seem to grow and expand, moving the homes’ foundation.
When a home’s foundation cracks and shifts, problems manifest themselves on the upper levels of the home with jammed doors and windows along with cracks in drywall. No style or design of a home can hide from these forces, nor are they spared from foundation repairs. “We’re seeing a lot more settlement issues across the board, from stone foundations in Brookside to new foundations in the suburbs”, says Joe LaGue of Olson Foundation Repair in Olathe, Ks. The phone calls are coming from all across the Midwest, calling about cracks and settlement in their foundations. Homes with larger trees that are close to the home are more vulnerable to soils drying out around the foundation. The trees are using every last bit of the moisture in the clay soil trying to stay alive. The trees are competing with the foundation for moisture and the trees are winning.
The drought started in September of 2011 in the Kansas City area and it continues in the first quarter of 2013 with no real relief in site. Earth Contact Products, a leading manufacturer and national distributor of foundation repair products based in the Kansas City area has seen dramatic growth during the severe drought. They have seen the drought expand from Texas up through Oklahoma and Kansas and then eastward through St. Louis, Chicago, and Indianapolis. According to ECP, this drought has created over two years worth of work for foundation repair contractors throughout the Midwest.
The dry conditions are even more damaging when they reach below the deep footings below basement or crawl space walls. Once a foundation has significant settlement the only way to solve the problem is to push it back up. The product of choice in much of the Midwest and especially in the Kansas City area is with steel push piers. These steel piers are driven deeply, well beyond the soils that are affected by moisture fluctuations, providing a good base to lift basement or crawl space walls. ECP, the leading steel push pier manufacturer, provides foundation repair contractors with several types of push piers. From concentric resistance piers, where the steel bracket and pile are placed directly below the foundation walls to eccentric push piers that are placed on the side of the footing. Both styles are highly effective in pushing foundations upward but must be designed by a foundation repair expert based on the needs of the individual structure.
During foundation repair, underpinning strengthens and stabilizes the foundation. Underpinning is accomplished by extending the foundation in depth so it rests on more stable soil stratum or distributes its load across a greater area. ECP has developed and patented several types of piling systems. With the professionals and the best products available, you will be assured that your foundation repair is done right and you will have peace of mind that it is stable.