Summertime tends to bring dryness to the soil, as anyone who’s ever kept a summer garden can probably tell you. However, dryness isn’t just bad for plants. It’s also bad for many buildings. When the soil dries out, as it likely will during the summer, you may end up with serious issues regarding your foundation.
The impact of soil moisture concerns on the home is pretty obvious, especially to experts who know a lot about how soil moisture impacts the foundation. However, many homeowners don’t know this crucial information. Here’s everything you need to know about how soil moisture might impact your home’s foundation.
The Transition from Winter to Summer
One of the biggest issues surrounding soil moisture and home foundations is the fact that the transition from winter to summer can be pretty difficult on home foundations. Here’s what you need to know about how the seasons interact when it comes to soil moisture and your foundation.
Excess Moisture in the Winter
In the winter, excess moisture can happen. Typically, this excess moisture comes from snow. When snow accumulates on the ground around your foundation, it often doesn’t cause any problems at the very beginning. However, in time, the temperature starts to warm up past the melting point. When it does that, the water will begin to sink into the ground.
If you have expansive soil around your foundation, this may cause the soil to expand, pressing against your foundation and therefore negatively impacting your home’s foundational structure. Additionally, if your foundation has any cracks, water can seep into those cracks and then freeze again. This second freeze can expand the cracks.
Reduced Moisture in the Winter
Of course, increased moisture isn’t the only problem the winter can bring along with it. It’s also possible to have reduced moisture in the winter. During the winter, cold air can suck water out of the ground, which can lead to much more reduced moisture content in the ground. Although this may seem counterintuitive, it can have damaging effects on your home.
It’s not uncommon to see dry ground with lots of cracks during the winter. That’s because the cold air has significantly impacted the drying process of the ground. If this happens immediately around your home, the soil can pull away from your foundation. This process removes the support from your foundation walls, potentially putting them at risk.
Excess Moisture in the Summer
Although it’s not something you often think about, excess moisture during the summer can absolutely be a concern. This is mostly a concern because hotter air can carry more moisture. Even if it’s warmer, the warm air can absolutely carry more moisture, which means the excess humidity may start to leech into the ground more than it dries the ground.
Additionally, the warm weather of the summer can sometimes create storms that can do a number on homes both close to the coast and far away from the coast. If you’re trying to plan for potential moisture problems in the summer, you absolutely have to think about excess moisture as much as you do not enough moisture.
Reduced Moisture in the Summer
This is what most people think of when they think of moisture concerns in the summer. Although it’s not the only moisture concern you should consider in the summer, it’s definitely true that reduced moisture during the summer can be a worry. The increased heat can pull moisture from the ground, leading to ground with very heavily reduced moisture content.
Similar concerns can occur here as they can in the winter; a lack of support around your foundation is never a good thing, regardless of how much moisture is in the air or in the ground. Additionally, constantly moving your foundation between excess pressure and not enough pressure can be very damaging for the foundation.
Signs of Settlement in the Summer
What should you look for if you’re trying to pinpoint settlement during this summer? The good news is that it’s actually relatively easy to uncover settling, regardless of whether it’s during the summer or winter. These are all big signs your home might be settling more than you want it to.
Sticking Doors and Windows
Sometimes, you might find the doors and windows in your home seem like they’re no longer perfectly parallel to the floor. Maybe you’ve found that the doors in your home now scrape along the floor, making them difficult to open and close. Maybe you’re starting to see that the windows are difficult to open and close. Maybe you’re seeing that doors regularly open with no interference from you.
These “sticking” doors and windows are signs of issues with home settling. They essentially showcase that your home is settling more on one side than on the other. You can’t fix the problem just by adjusting your doors and windows. You need to tackle the base problem, and the base problem is that your home is settling too much on one side.
Stair-step cracks are most common on brick walls, but they can be present on just about any wall type. A stair-step crack happens when one side of the wall settles more quickly than the other side of the wall.
Because one side is now holding more weight than the other, the wall cracks along the path of least resistance, which is typically along a stair-step pattern.
As you can see, the stair-step crack clearly shows that something is wrong. However, many homeowners believe that a stair-step crack is simply a sign that shows up no matter what’s happening. For many homeowners, the stair-step crack is a fact of having brick foundations or basements; if you don’t know it means that something’s wrong, you’re unlikely to do much about it.
Cracks in the Floor
Floor cracks are another regular concern with homes that are dealing with a lot of sinking. These tend to occur when the floor starts to sink in, but they can happen for many reasons. For example, cracks in the floor underneath walls can indicate a slab foundation that’s sinking quickly, causing serious foundation damage to the walls.
This is one of the reasons you should pay close attention to cracks anywhere in the floor, even if it doesn’t seem like those cracks would be a significant problem. Even very small cracks can showcase structural instability. If you don’t handle these cracks early, you run the risk of allowing the problem to progress to a potentially unfixable place.
Another potential problem you might encounter is that of sinking floors. This is especially a problem if the floor simply doesn’t have good enough support overall. If your floor has the support that’s lacking or one side has sunk far more than the other, you might notice that the floors sink. This is a relatively common problem with foundation destabilization, and it’s one you should count as soon as possible.
Sinking floors can be deadly for a variety of reasons. First off, the bend on the floors can cause a tripping hazard, which is a big cause of injuries, especially in elderly people. However, sinking floors can also indicate that your home’s foundation is failing. If you leave sinking floors alone for too long, you might end up with a floor that’s completely collapsed in on itself.
Solutions for Home Foundation Stabilization
What can you do to stabilize your home’s foundation? There are several ways you might be able to stabilize your foundation. These fixes all work best for different foundation concerns and foundation styles. Here are the most common home foundation stabilization solutions.
If you choose to install push piers, you’ll be able to install a pier system into the bedrock under your home. Push piers are typically long and straight, and the JES expert who installs them will drive them down into the earth as far as they need to go before they hit the strongest layer under your home. That can be a bit difficult, but an expert will know how to tell when the push piers are deep enough.
When you choose push piers, it’s to strengthen your home’s foundation and give it an additional boost. Many of these signs signal foundation failure or at least issues with your foundation. In many cases, the answer is to bolster the foundation so it can lean on something that’s much more reliable than the soil around your home.
You won’t be able to install push piers on your own; push piers require expert and expert-level tools for installation. However, they’re great not only for stabilizing your home at its current level but also for potentially lifting your home back to a level position if you currently have difficulty with that. Push piers are great for anyone who’s struggling with a stable foundation.
Helical piers are similar to push piers, but they’re distinctly different because of their unique design. Some people refer to helical piers as “screw piles” because the unique part of the helical pier design is a “screw” section near the bottom. That means you can screw the pier in until it reaches bedrock rather than just driving it down.
As with push piers, helical piers can also strengthen your home’s foundation. This is true whether you’re already having problems, or you just happen to be in a situation where it’s likely you’ll develop foundation problems in the future.
It’s true that helical piers require an expert for installation. However, this is because it’s vitally important that you install your helical piers properly. A low-quality installation job is almost worse than no installation job at all. Only opt for a high-quality installation job with JES so you can be sure your helical piers are doing their job.
What if you have a concrete slab foundation? Slab piers will probably be your best bet if you have a slab foundation. Even slab foundations can have settling problems, and these settling problems are more likely to manifest themselves with issues like cracks in the floor and moving of the walls away from the ceiling and the floor.
With slab piers, you can shift the weight-bearing from the soil directly under your home to the bedrock far beneath your home. That means you’re no longer relying on soil, which will shrink and expand regularly, for your strength. Instead, you’re relying on the bedrock, which won’t shrink or expand, to bolster your home back up.
Slab piers don’t just sustain your home — they can actually raise your home back up to whatever level your foundation initially rested on. That means it’s a great solution for sinking floors and generally settling foundations. It also helps you target the main cause of any cracks in the floor you might be seeing in your home. By targeting the original cause with an expert slab pier installation, you can make sure you’re not just adding a surface-level fix.
Maintaining Your Home Foundation, No Matter What
It’s important that you maintain your home’s foundation and protect it from issues. These issues may include soil movement, but they can also include plenty of other concerns. For example, home foundations may suffer from a variety of concerns, and you need to be ready to request an expert help with any of them.
Especially during the summer, the dryness of the soil tends to be a significant reason for foundation concerns. Your home’s foundation is likely to suffer during the summer if you don’t already have something set up against these issues. If you don’t have something set up or you’re starting to see problems, you should request a free inspection a JES foundation repair expert who can help you with your foundation problems no matter what they are.