Protecting your home from the changeable seasons in Charlotte, NC, is not always an easy task. From the chill of winter to the heat of summer, there are dozens of environmental factors to consider. Most homeowners know how high winds and snap freezes can cause structural damage, but few are aware that an extended drought can cause real foundation problems for a property.
Thankfully, a few behavioral changes and some professional input are generally all that is needed to keep your home safe in even the most unforgiving southern summers.
The Unseen Damage Caused by Drought
From hosepipe bans to water usage limitations, a drought is never a pleasant thing. However, while we’re all aware of the toll that this sudden dehydration takes on our lawns and flower beds, there is a bigger problem to contend with. The way in which your soil reacts to extreme saturation or dehydration depends on how it is made up. Some soil, for example, bentonite clay, which is high in minerals like calcium and iron, grows and shrinks dramatically depending on their water content. Of course, other types may react less dramatically, but all soil will change in reaction to the weather.
While the climate in North Carolina could reasonably be described as humid and subtropical, intense periods of drought are not unheard of. In fact, the longest drought in the state’s history lasted 155 weeks.
The unrecognized damage of events like this one lay in the foundation of residential and commercial properties across the state. The soil in and around Charlotte, NC, tends to be a mix of clay, sand, and silt, so when droughts take hold, the earth shrinks and cracks. This is bad for your lawn, of course, and leaves many people wondering how to fix large cracks in clay soil, but it is arguably worse news for your home!
How to Protect Your Home from Foundation Damage
Protecting your home doesn’t necessarily mean taking drastic measures, of course. You really just need to be aware of potential soil problems in your area and take small steps to mitigate them. These steps can include behavioral changes as well as technological help. First and foremost, you should test your soil composition to find out just what you are dealing with! Just because the area tends to have a certain soil mix, that does not eliminate the possibility for variance.
Once you know what you are dealing with there are some solid preventative measures you can take, including:
- Installing a dry well: A dry well is a fairly big investment, but it is worth it. By grading the landscape around your home’s perimeter and placing internal gravel pits, a dry well will store and release excess water to your lawn in a controlled manner.
- Investing in sprinklers: While severe droughts may see a ban or limitation on sprinklers, it is still good practice to have a sprinkler system in use during the average summer. Keeping your lawn consistently watered reduces the chance of particles shifting and will provide long-term protection for your foundation.
- Installing sub-surface drains: Waterproofing your foundation is never a bad idea, especially in a humid state like North Carolina. Sub-surface drainage systems will help water move away from your home and into your yard.
- Clearing out drains before it rains: Assuming your soil does not crack terribly, the main risk to your foundation could be those smaller cracks funneling rainwater straight to your foundation when the drought does break. Make sure you clear your drains of all blockages and debris to give them the best chance of coping with the rain when it does come.
Talk to the Professionals!
If in doubt, call for backup! There are professionals in and around Charlotte, NC, who will be happy to help you figure out just what kind of soil you have and how best to cope with it. More than this, a professional from Mount Valley Foundation Services can look at your home during a free inspection to check for signs of damage done in the past (which is useful if you have just moved into a new home).
They will also be able to provide you with a free repair quote and suggest the best preventative measures for your property.