The drought is not just about failing landscaping according to Tom DiGregorio of AquaGuard Basement Systems. “The drought has an effect on anything structural,” he says. In metro Atlanta, the clay soil is the culprit.
In extended periods of extreme drought, the soil dries and shrinks. “On vertical foundation walls, the soil contracts, pulling away and leaving a gap between the wall and the dirt,” points out DiGregorio. When it rains, lateral hydrostatic pressure pushes against walls. The result is bowed walls or what the industry calls bending wall failure. Although this happens more frequently in cement block walls, indicated by horizontal cracking, it can happen to poured concrete foundations and can occur underneath footings which compromises their ability to support a home.
DiGregorio suggests some things homeowners should do:
1. Be sure roof water is properly channeled a minimum of 10 feet away from a home’s foundation, and gutters and down spouts remain clean. (This is an opportunity to collect water run-off for landscaping.)
2. Look for cracks regularly—in drywall, in foundation walls and cladding.
3. Check to make sure soil isn’t settled with a negative slope toward the foundation. Gaps should be closed and backfilled for a positive slope away from a house.
When in doubt, call a professional for evaluation.