The Summer Drought Cycle and Your Foundation

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021 by Amanda Waldmann

The Summer Drought Cycle and Your Foundation - Image 1


There’s a long running joke that if you don’t like the weather in Michigan you should just wait five minutes. But this summer, it seems more like 5 weeks between weather changes, with a ton of intense rain followed by extended periods of hot, dry weather that sucks the moisture out of everything. While this wreaks havoc on your gardens and your summer plans, it also affects your home’s foundation. Let’s look at how.


Dry spells


When everything shrivels and dries in the summer heat, the soil shrinks and hardens. This shrinking almost means it may pull back from your foundation, leaving walls and the slab itself less supported and at risk for cracking and bowing under the weight of the house itself. 


Rain and flooding


When it finally does rain, there are a few problems. First, there’s more open space around your foundation since the soil pulled away, and this lets water make its way to the foundation much quicker. Second, it takes a while for very dry soil to start absorbing water - this sounds like the opposite of what should happen, but think about getting a very old sponge wet vs getting a recently used sponge wet. The old one takes a while to get to a point where it can absorb, and in the meantime that water runs right off. In this case, that water runs right into those gaps around your foundation.




When you switch back and forth between dry and wet spells, you’ll see increased soil movement as it shrinks away and then expands in the water; but each expansion and shrinking spell will allow it to shift and change where it’s putting pressure on your foundation. This is where the biggest problem lies; without a consistent base level of moisture in the soil, the foundation is constantly at the mercy of shifting soil.


What you can do


The best thing you can do for your foundation in a drought cycle like this is pay attention. You can’t stop the soil from pushing your foundation walls in, but you can watch for new cracks and signs of shifting and bowing. You can’t stop water the first time it comes in through your wall. But you can call us for a free inspection to talk about wall stabilization systems or get a waterproofing system installed and make sure that first water event is the only one you have to deal with.


Unpredictable summer weather and dry spells can cause problems for your home, but if you stay aware of what’s happening with your foundation, you can make sure it stays safe, dry, and comfortable year-round. Call us today to schedule a free inspection.


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Lansing, MI 48911
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