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 trouble. 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 for the U.S. 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 locally, we have to take a look beneath the ground's 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 local foundation support systems we have installed to permanently stabilize homes:
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.

DBS Foundation Repair Solutions

  • Wall Anchors consist of a wall plate and earth anchor to stabilize your tilting wall. This system utilizes the stable soil on the exterior of your home.
  • Wall Defense Straps are made of carbon fibers for an ultra-strong solution to cracked and bowing walls.
  • Our Wall Bracing System uses steel I-beams that attach to the basement floor and ceiling joists. These beams are tightened over time to provide a result similar to the above before and after set.
  • Settling homes and cabins without basements use our Crawl Space Support System. Supplemental steel beams are held in place by our SmartJack system to level and stabilize sinking floors.
  • When drought causes soil to compact, voids form beneath our concrete slabs and sidewalks. Avoid tripping hazards with our Interior and Exterior Concrete Injection system.

Why Fix it? 

1. Foundation issues only get worse with time! Letting a structural issue go will only propel the process of foundation failure. More time typically means more damage and costs more money to fix.

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 peace of mind in 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 your foundation issues for good?

DBS has Design Specialists that are highly trained in diagnosing foundation issues like settling and shifting. 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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