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Drought conditions and persistent dryness can cause severe damage. You can clearly see the changes happening above ground, but there are also major shifts happening below the ground.

As the natural soil moisture dwindles, you will begin to see signs of damage to homes, roads, driveways and patios. Colorado’s clay soil can make properties especially susceptible to these issues. Knowing what to look for can help you avoid situations where your home becomes structurally unsound and drops in value.

As the Colorado drought worsens, let’s break down how the drought conditions affect your home foundation.

How does drought affect a home's foundation

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How Can Your Home Be Damaged By a Drought?

What’s happening underground can have a big impact on the structural stability of your home and its foundation. Look for these key signs of drought damage.

On the outside of your home, a drought could cause:

  • Cracked walls
  • Warped and cracked driveways and patios
  • Leaning chimney and chimney cracks

On the inside of your home, drought could cause:

  • Sloping floors
  • Cracks in drywall or ceiling
  • Difficulty opening doors or windows
  • Broken pipes

These signs of foundation problems indicate how your house is responding to the changing water levels in the environment. Generally, the larger the clues are, the bigger the structural problems are. However, even small indicators of drought stress can accumulate into significant damage.

It’s also important to be aware that structural shifts can cause secondary issues. A broken pipe can flood your bathroom or basement, or shifting walls can cause roof damage.

What’s Happening Below Ground During a Drought?

Home problems during a drought are a direct result of what’s happening below ground.

By understanding the changes happening underground, you’ll have a clear understanding of the settling and cracking happening in your home and solid surfaces such as driveways, patios, or pools.

It starts with the soil. Expansive soil is common in Colorado, and this type of soil changes volume based on moisture content.

Because of its mineral content, it expands when it gets wet and shrinks when it gets dry. A 10 percent volume change is common for expansive soils. Depending on how far down the drought reaches and the quantity of expansive soil you have, this can add up to significant movement.

Expansive soil can cause gaps underneath your home’s foundation during dry weather, and then when the soil becomes wet, it will exert upward pressure. Repeated cycles of soil shrinkage and expansion cause stress to your structure.

How Do Soil Changes Affect Your Home?

During a major drought, shrinking soil could leave gaps under your home’s foundation. Without proper underground support, structural damage will start to occur.

Plus, damage to your home is worsened because the soil under your home won’t change consistently. Under these conditions, variable underground conditions cause your home to respond unevenly. This is what’s called differential settlement.

For example, your home could begin to tilt if soil contraction is more severe below one portion of your home. A famous example of this is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The soft soil gave way under one portion of the building, causing it to tilt dramatically before it was stabilized by foundation repair services.

In another case, uneven settling could cause a split in your home structure where one portion of your home’s foundation remains level while another portion sinks into the soil below. it. Small movements can cause a big impact on foundation issues. As the weight starts to shear the structure, you’ll see cracks in basement walls, the chimney, and ceilings.

What Happens to Your House After the Drought Ends?

Wishing for rain may not help your foundation issues. Instead, the altered soil could cause you to face a different set of problems.

After the drought is over, rainwater could drain differently around your house. Instead of flowing away from your foundation, it could flow toward it. This could cause increased hydrostatic pressure in the soil around your foundation, basement, or crawl space.

Plus, any underground air pockets that were left by the drought could fill up with water. As a result of the soil changes during the drought, you could be more susceptible to flooding in your basement or crawl space. As they say, when it rains, it pours.

These below-ground issues can affect all levels of the home. Because of a home’s natural upward airflow, any dampness at the ground floor can cause humidity at all levels. This can make your home more prone to mold growth in a bathroom, attic, or closet.

Because of the big changes that happen below ground during a drought, you may find that your home could need basement waterproofing, a sump pump or drainage system installed.

How Can You Protect Your Property From Drought Damage?

Being proactive about protecting your home foundation can help you avoid thousands of dollars of damage.

The right structural solution can secure your house and preserve your investment. Rather than guessing about what’s going on with your home or what solutions you might need, you can get a free inspection from Colorado’s leading foundation repair experts at Complete Basement Systems.

There’s no risk, and our team of specialists can get to the root cause of a problem. You may be able to secure your foundation through:

  • Structural wall repair
  • Foundation settlement repair
  • Retaining walls
  • Exterior drainage
  • Interior drainage
  • Concrete leveling

If a drought is causing soil shrinking around your home, you may need to act quickly. Foundation damage will only get worse over time. Without intervention, homes can lose up to 30 percent of their market value.

Find out how you can protect your investment and secure your home through a free foundation inspection.