Technical Papers

Drought Conditions and Your Foundation

Friday, October 9th, 2020 by Chelsea Bowen

Foundation Settling Examples, Internal concrete footing, cracks at windows, external cracking in brick walls

What Do Dry Conditions Mean for Your Home? 

The short answer is foundation settlement. But why is DBS predicting that more homeowners in the Northland will see foundation cracking and settling in the upcoming months? Let’s find out!
Image: National Drought Monitor

Duluth News Tribune reports that we are currently 8.5 inches below average rainfall this year. The Arrowhead region of Lake Superior in the Northeastern part of the state as indicated on the map, is experiencing the fifth driest year on record. National drought tracking also shows that it has been a dry year in general - areas in Southwestern Minnesota, the Dakotas, as well as much of the Western United States are experiencing periods of extreme drought. 

To understand just how this impacts our homes, we have to take a look beneath the surface.

#1 Factor of Foundation Failure is the Soil

Foundation settlement symptoms like cracked and bowing walls typically come down to one thing: the soil around your home. Not surprisingly, below normal rainfall makes for dry soil. In our region, the soil is primarily clay. Its flat-shaped pores make it a poor conductor of water - meaning that it takes longer to rehydrate than silt or sand. As dry soil compacts, it creates gaps and spaces in the sediment around your home causing, you guessed it, major foundation settlement. 

In turn, lots of rain, or springtime thawing, brings an abundance of moisture to the sediment. Because clay soil is unable to conduct water as well as silt and sand, it holds onto moisture longer, becomes heavier, and in turn places a large amount of inward pressure on your foundation. With nothing on the inside of the basement wall to support and counter this pressure, walls crack and buckle. Excess water also fuels washout of the soil beneath foundation footing and concrete slabs, creating a similar after-effect of unsupported space around your home. 

With soil that is currently contracting, and the inevitable wet, expanding soil in the spring - just imagine what your poured or block foundation will go through over the next several months! So now that you’re aware of what’s happening below-grade, how can you tell if your foundation is actually settling?

Tell-tale signs of foundation failure

Starting as small wall cracks, foundation settlement can create symptoms like windows or doors that become difficult to open, bowing walls, and uneven floors. Here are some examples of foundation support projects we've done to permanently fix problems like these:

Wall Restoration by DBS in Two Harbors, MN

Kettle River, MN
Saginaw, MN
Two Harbors, MN
Danbury, WI
Lake Nebagamon, WI
South Range, WI

If you begin to notice any of these signs, it’s important to address the situation immediately. Foundation issues certainly do not get better with time, but they do get better with DBS. After providing home performance solutions for thousands of homes in our service area of Minnesota and Wisconsin, DBS has proven solutions for permanently stabilizing your foundation. We use a variety of foundation structural repair products, all backed by national warranties. Click on the links below to read more:

Wall Anchors
Wall Defense Straps
Wall Bracing System
Crawl Space Support System
Interior and Exterior Concrete Injection

Why Fix it? 

1. Foundation issues only get worse with time! Letting a structural issue go will only propel the process of foundation failure. 

2. Protecting the value of your home. The Real Estate Seller Disclosure Act requires foundation repair needs to be disclosed to potential home buyers. Structural defects can decrease the value of a home by 10-20%.

3. Ensuring the health and safety of your home and family. Give yourself the piece of mind knowing your home is going to be a safe and comfortable space for you and your loved ones for years to come.

Ready to solve you foundation issues for good?

DBS has Design Specialists that are highly trained in diagnosing foundation settling. Estimates are free, thorough, and no-obligation. Call us today at 218-525-0720 or fill out a contact form here


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5116 Jean Duluth Road Suite 300
Duluth, MN 55803

1584 93rd Ln NE
Blaine, MN 55449
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