More hot dry weather in the Midwest could spell trouble for home foundations in Kansas City. This is the second season in a row that the Midwest has experienced extremely dry conditions. Most homeowners don’t think about the heat affecting their foundations. They spend most of their time trying to keep their lawns from going brown. But droughts can cause serious foundation problems because of the type of soil that’s so prevalent here in the Midwest. The Midwest has a lot of expansive clay soil. What makes clay soil so bad for foundations is that fact that it is so sensitive to moisture. It will shrink and crack in the summer when there is no moisture and swell when it gets saturated. The more water it absorbs, the more it expands. This increase in volume can put enough pressure on structures to cause cracks and other damage. Moisture content makes the strength of the soil vary greatly. Hard, dry clay is very strong and provides support for foundations, but moisture makes the soil pliable and weak, unable to support a lot of weight. However, when clay soil gets too dry, it also shrinks and this can cause it to pull away from the building it’s supporting. Extreme drought can also cause deep cracks or fissures to develop. When it rains, these cracks allow the water to penetrate deeper into the soil and cause swelling even lower. When the soil moves, basement walls, and foundations move with it. This constant cycle of dry and wet causes repetitive stress on foundations. At PierMagic® Foundation Company, we see the results of this stress every day. So what can homeowners do to protect their homes from this dangerous cycle? During times of drought, pay special attention to the area next to the foundation. Make sure your sprinkler saturates the ground close to the foundation to help maintain moisture. If you have large trees whose branches are close to your house, that means their roots are too. Water extra in that area as trees absorb a great amount of moisture from the soil. Keeping the ground near the foundation watered will help prevent shrinkage and fissures allowing the ground to continue to support your foundation and basement walls. It’s not so much the soil that’s the problem but the changes in moisture content within the soil. So don’t forget during the wet season, drainage is critical. Make sure the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation. If you see water standing anywhere after a downpour, build these areas up to allow the water to drain away from your foundation. Downspouts should dump their contents at least five feet away from the house. Make sure you have good drainage around your basement walls. Swelling clay can cause just as many problems as shrinking clay. Living in Kansas City is great, but the soil is not. Inspect your home for small cracks in your foundation walls, basement walls or floor. Pay special attention to the soil near your foundation. If you see anything suspicious, call PierMagic® of the Kansas City area for a free foundation inspection. Foundation problems are always less expensive if you catch them early before too much damage is done. You can reach us at Kansas City, MO (816) 559-8888, Overland Park, KS (913) 667-7784.