As the outside temperatures start to rise and the rains slow down our focus needs to be on our foundations. Foundations are very susceptible to fluctuations in moisture level of soils. Spring brings moderate temperatures and steady rains. Summer brings high temperatures and fewer rains. These fluctuations cause movement in your home’s foundation which can result in cracks in walls and sticky doors and windows.
During the spring the weather is mild and moist, which causes the soil to become saturated and swollen. These wet soils expand and become very dense around and under your foundation. Often you will notice new cracks in basement floors, drywall, and foundations. These rigid surfaces show these signs of stress because of the expanding soils surrounding them.
As summer starts, soils begin to dry out and shrink. Generally, you will notice cracks to develop in your yard and the soil pulling away from the foundation. Over time, this process happens deeper and deeper in your yard causing your foundation to settle. As the foundation starts to settle, new cracks will develop vertically in the foundation. These vertical cracks are due to differential settle or uneven settlement caused by different soil moisture levels around your home. The location of trees, flower gardens and shade will help determine the drying time and extent.
To prevent further damage caused by shrinking soil movement, foundation repairs become necessary. Whether it is helical tiebacks during the spring rains or steel push piers in the heat of the summer, slowing or stopping the movement is the key to preventing major structural damages. Foundation repair methods are successful when they move the bearing surface of the foundation to soils that are not affected by moisture changes in the upper levels of soils. By bearing on deep soils the foundation remains stable and less affected by active soils.
As the temperatures increase in your area, keep an eye on soil moisture levels and any new cracks in your home. These are signs of future movements and potential foundation problems. While some will tell you that you can reverse the effects of drying soils with soaker hoses, the amount of water necessary to do this is usually unpractical. A simple one-inch rain that falls on a 1,500 square foot roof equals nearly 1,000 gallons of water. When you add in the water that falls on your lawn it is simple to see replacing this quantity of water becomes very difficult and expensive.