Excessive Evaporation and Gaps Between Soil & Foundation
Homeowners know their foundation is more likely to endure damage when the rain’s heavy. Droughts, however, can have just as much of an impact on your foundation’s structural integrity. As your soil dries out, it starts to shrink. With more space in between those particles, you may rapidly find yourself dealing with unprecedented hydrostatic pressure.
What Is Soil Shrinkage?
Your soil doesn’t remain in a constant state. It changes every day based on the amount of rain it comes into contact with, among other things. When your soil goes a long time without rain, it can start to shrink in size so as to conserve nutrients. When your soil does start to shrink, gaps start to appear between the soil particles.
Your foundation weighed down by gravity, is eager to fill those gaps. Water is as well. While your soil will usually rejuvenate after a rainstorm, the run-off that has a chance will run into the gaps left behind by your soil shrinkage and come into contact with your concrete slabs, including those making up your foundation. As that water builds up, it becomes hydrostatic pressure, a type of pressure that builds as water starts to interact with the materials that make up your foundation. If you haven’t waterproofed your home, this exposure can cause your structural supports to bow or otherwise rot away.
In some of the more severe cases, the soil around your home can physically start to pull away from your foundation. The good news is that this level of property damage is easy to identify. The bad news is that it can take a bit of time and work to remedy it.
Signs to Look Out For
Most of the time, you can tell your yard’s not been getting enough water when it starts to dry out. If your grass is dying off or it simply hasn’t rained in a while, you may be looking at excessive evaporation.
That said, there are some signs that give away this evaporation later on in a drought. These include:
- Gaps between your landscaping and your foundation
- Stuck doors
- Foggy windows
- Cracks in your ceiling, walls, or foundation
- Uneven floors
- Bowing walls
Think of it this way: while your lawn may be drying out, the soil deep beneath your home isn’t. Groundwater is constantly on the move, and when it has more gaps to make its way through, it’ll more readily come into contact with your foundation.
The drier your soil gets the more hydrostatic pressure your home has to endure. With that hydrostatic pressure comes to a greater risk of cracks, leaks, and other types of water damage.
How to Treat Gapping Soil
It’s not impossible to prevent the soil around your home from drying out. That said, if you let your soil go for too long, it may take longer than you expect to coax the soil back towards your perimeter.
Many of the steps you can take to protect your home are preventative. They include:
Invest in a Drainage System
Drainage systems, both inside and outside of your home, work wonders when you’re trying to keep water away from your structural supports. You can talk with one of the contractors working in the Baltimore, MD, area to learn more about your drainage options.
Carefully Water Your Soil
You might assume watering your yard would expose your foundation to even more hydrostatic pressure than your average rainstorm does. This, however, isn’t actually the case. When you establish a yard-watering schedule, you’re taking steps to keep your soil healthy and your foundation free of leaks. Watered soil won’t shrink in size and will be able to absorb new rain, better keeping it away from your structural supports.
Arrange Thoughtful Landscaping
When in doubt, why not put your plants to work? If you arrange your plants appropriately around your perimeter, while still giving them the room they need to grow, then the root systems near your home may absorb the water that would otherwise damage your structural supports.
Want to keep your soil in its place? Water your lawn more frequently than you think you should. When you keep your soil healthy, you’re keeping the rest of your home healthy, too.
To explore your waterproofing and repair options, reach out to one of the contractors working in the Baltimore, MD, area. After a home inspection, you’ll receive a free quote on any services you may need.