Spring is a favorite time of year for many people. The return of warmth and an increase in precipitation brings gardens back to life. But with everything in bloom, there’s something else to consider. How does all this rain impact the foundation of your home? Our experts at StableLift Foundation Repair explore the possible benefits and drawbacks of springtime moisture in regard to your home’s foundation.
Soil, Moisture, and Foundations
Soils often expand or shrink based on their moisture content. When this happens to all the soil, and a uniform change occurs, there isn’t really much of a problem. The foundation of your home remains stable. However, if only a portion of the soil beneath and around your home’s foundation changes, this can cause heaving or dipping, resulting in serious cracks and unevenness. Also known as differential movement, this damage to your foundation can have repercussions for your entire home.
Soil moisture is often subject to an increase from a variety of sources. Ground water and seasonally high water tables can cause irregular exposure to excess moisture. This can perpetuate a cyclical swelling and shrinking of the earth beneath a home’s foundation, which puts stresses on building materials. Because this swelling is often not uniform, cracks in the foundation may appear. As well, as the house settles, if the foundation has been uplifted unevenly by the underlying soil, this will cause doors to swing on their own, windows to fit poorly in their tracks, and even some costly plumbing or public utility line damage.
When is Water Good for the Foundation?
While too much water can present problems, it’s not universally bad for foundations. If the soil moisture content is at an optimum level when the foundational bed is compacted and the slab is poured, there are benefits to precipitation. Due to the nature of most foundation slabs, moisture levels at the center tend to remain stable or increase, rather than decrease, over time. However, for the perimeter of the slab, this is not the case.
Where the concrete is exposed to surface soils, environmental conditions, and precipitation, it either gains or loses moisture at a rapid rate, depending on climate and moisture in the surrounding soils. In the instance of spring rain, especially in climates that tend to be seasonally dry, the moisture at the edge of the slab is refreshed. Any gapping that has occurred due to soil desiccation and shrinkage is reduced. This may preclude any additional measures on the part of the homeowner. It can also help to keep your home free of the depredations of pests.
In cases of gapping around the edges of a foundation slab, insects and rodents may see the resultant openings as ideal for building their homes. It can also be a dangerous void into which sudden summer downpours may rush—increasing the soil moisture content of the underlying foundational bed in an uneven manner. The gentler incursions of precipitation that occur in the spring months are far more beneficial to the health of a home’s foundation.
Soil moisture content is a crucial aspect of maintaining a strong foundation. To this end, spring precipitation is actually often beneficial. If gutter systems and drainage points are well maintained in areas that receive high levels of annual precipitation or are situated in soils that have poor drainage.
Read more about foundation care and maintenance recommendations.
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