As a foundation specialist, Bisson Expert can show you how to identify the warning signs of land subsidence on your house during times of drought.
How can you identify the warning signs of land subsidence on your house during times of drought ?
Summer of 2016 was one of the warmest summers in Quebec since 1976, with some experts even predicting a drought. Nevertheless, the heat waves increased the likelihood of land subsidence in areas most at risk. Several owners actually saw new cracks in their building foundation or structure.
If, like them, you think that your building has shifted or if you have questions about the impact of heat waves on your property, read this article. You will find out more about the reasons that lead to land subsidence, the warning signs, the potential solutions and who to contact.
What is the impact of a drought on a foundation ?
1. Shrinking clay soils :
Very dry and hot summers have an impact on clay soils. There is more foundation settling in some areas. This occurs when there is not enough water : the land is dry, the ground is not sufficiently irrigated and the groundwater table is drying out. Under these conditions, clay soil shrinks and pulls away from the foundation, which leaves a void around the walls and sometimes under the footing, which in turn leads to foundation settling.
The building looks like it has shifted, and is not level. Fortunately, a significant amount of water can humidify the clay, irrigate the soil and partly offset the impact. Moreover, the recent heavy rainfall in August may have possibly helped. We won’t know until September if Quebec experienced a drought or if the rain was able to offset the successive heat waves with low precipitation rates.
2. The groundwater table is drying out.
A dry and hot summer starves the soil and plants from its water supply. When there is not enough surface water, plants look for other sources of supply. Some will get their water from the groundwater table. Unfortunately, this exacerbates the effects of droughts because the plants will dry out the land and thereby increase the risk of land subsidence. Some advice to owners about land subsidence Crevices (cracks in a zigzag pattern between the bricks)
forming on the exterior cladding, cracks appearing in the foundation,
doors and windows that are hard to open or close are some warning signs of land subsidence.
Refer to the information provided in this article :
If you notice some of these warning signs, keep monitoring them and contact a foundation specialist like Bisson Expert. Their experts will tell you if your house is located in an area that potentially has clay soil, like Brossard, East End of Montreal or Chambly. If need be, a foundation expert will come to you to inspect your property and tell you if it has shifted because of land subsidence and recommend an appropriate solution.
Can the torrential rains of 2016 offset the risk of foundation settling ?
Although the summer of 2016 has been dry and warm, heavy rains have fallen on the province of Quebec during the past weeks. These heavy rains have supplied water to the land. For some, this surplus water was enough to humidify the clay that had shrunk, which allowed it to get back to its initial shape and fill the gap between the foundation and building. For others, these rains slowed down land subsidence without however stopping it. For this reason, checking for early warning signs and acting quickly is recommended.
On the other hand, while some enjoyed the rain, for others it was a problem. In fact, the torrential rains exposed foundations to surplus water that was hard on some old drainage systems. There were many cases of water infiltration, especially for foundations with cracks.
The solution to land subsidence.
Stabilizing the foundation on piles is the preferred solution. This way, the house will no longer be dependent on the load-bearing capacity of the soil. Its structure will remain stable, even in times of drought and land subsidence.
For more information about this permanent solution, click here.
Bisson Expert, a reference in case of land subsidence.
If you have any concerns about your property or want to find out if it is located in a risk area, contact one of our foundation experts. We have helped numerous home owners during a number of droughts, including the ones in 1991, 2001 and more recently 2012. With our experience and advice, you will find out if your property has slumped and if you should plan for work to stabilize your foundation.