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Can Drought Cause Foundation Problems?

Dry, cracked soil

A type of natural disaster, drought is a prolonged period of a lack of precipitation or moisture. Droughts can last from a little as a couple of weeks to as long as a few years. Droughts can greatly affect your foundation, with shrinkage occurring during the dry period and expansion happening when precipitation occurs.

At Groundworks, we know how to handle it by installing foundation repair measures to shore up your home against structural issues.

What Causes a Drought?

As explained above, droughts are extended periods of no precipitation that lead to an extreme problem with the affected area’s soil drying out and plants drying out. Drier than normal periods affect the area’s water supply, quickly drying out the area. During a drought, rainfall virtually stops, streams flow slower, water levels in reservoirs and lakes decline, and water in wells becomes shallower. 

While it may seem like droughts occur only in hot, arid climates, this is definitely not the case. It is only when the dry period is abnormal that it is considered a drought. Over time, however, areas will start to experience consistent water patterns and temperatures. Places–such as Colorado–have a dry climate, and the area experiences drought periods quite often. When wet, soil expands, causing dry weather to affect the stability of your foundation.

Droughts are not always solved by precipitation. Sometimes, rain can lighten the drought a little, but soon goes back to being extremely dry as most of the moisture is soaked up by plants. A drought is not considered over until there are enough significant periods of rain or snowfall. Typically, it takes rain over several months to turn the area back to its pre-drought state.

How Do Droughts Affect the Soil?

Droughts have significant impacts on soil, leading to various changes and challenges. This includes:  

  • Dehydration: Lack of rainfall causes soil moisture depletion, leading to dehydration. This can result in soil becoming dry and compact. 
  • Cracking: Extended periods of drought can cause oil to crack as it dries out. These cracks can extend deep into the ground and negatively impact the soil structure, negatively affecting your home’s foundation. 
  • Erosion: Droughts contribute to soil erosion as dry, compacted soil is more prone to being carried away by wind or water. 

Signs of Foundation Damage Caused by Drought

Compromised crack brick foundation

Droughts can impact your foundation in several ways. Some signs of damage include: 

How to Avoid Drought Foundation Damage

To avoid foundation damage during drought conditions, it’s crucial to implement proactive measures to maintain soil moisture and foundation stability.  

Groundworks has expertise to guide you through the necessary measures needed to ensure your foundation remains strong and unhindered by dry spells. Our range of foundation solutions include basement wall reinforcement, wall anchors, foundation piers, and concrete lifting. During our free inspection, our professionals will determine the best solution for you.  

When the soil is wet, it expands. When it dries out, it shrinks. As it shrinks, small fissures in the soil form along parts of the soil that are more or less cohesive with each other—this is especially common in clay soils.

Pouring water directly on your foundation is something we don’t really recommend, as it can lead to leaks in your basement or crawl space. However, during droughts you can prevent damage from the drought by pouring water around the foundation to stabilize the moisture levels.

As mentioned above, it is very difficult to pour concrete when there is a drought going on in the area. Water is used to make the mixture that forms concrete. When there’s a drought, this water evaporates quickly, so the concrete dries and sets improperly.

Contact Groundworks Today for a Free Inspection

A Groundworks CFI showing a family what's happening to their house foundation

If you notice any signs of foundational damage including foundation cracks, a sinking foundation or uneven concrete, reach out to Groundworks for a free inspection. Our foundation repair specialists will inspect your foundation and recommend repairs that ensure that your home’s foundation is protected in every season. 

Ted Dryce

Ted Dryce

Content Writer

Ted is an SEO Content Writer who has been with Groundworks since 2021. He’s covered home repair topics ranging from crawl space encapsulation to regional soil conditions. When he’s not working, Ted is performing improv comedy and working on his own creative projects.