Don't Let Your Foundation Suffer in Summer Heat

Written by David Edens
Updated June 15, 2021
green garden hose and spray nozzle
Irrigate your foundation with a water hose or sprinkler so it doesn't dry out, which can cause your house to shift. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

Keep the soil around your house consistently moist during these dry, hot summer months.

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In the southern portions of North America, there are three elements harmful to foundations, especially in the summer: high heat, lack of moisture and clay soils. 

Extended high temperatures are a real threat to your foundation

Why lack of water causes foundation problems

Foundations are designed to have continuous support from the soil. In the heat of summer the soil shrinks and moisture evaporates, causing the soil to pull away from the footing, which allows the footing to drop or rotate — depending on how the footing is loaded. In some instances, foundations can both drop and rotate. 

The areas of a structure to move first are typically the southeast and southwest corners. The corners are the heaviest areas of the structure, therefore they are the most likely areas to settle. The south wall has more wind and sun, causing the soil to dry out more quickly.

How watering your foundation helps

Now, for some good news. There are things that can be done to prevent or minimize foundation damage. During extended periods of excessive heat, watering the foundation helps. The amount of watering is determined by the severity of the drought.

Tips to protect your foundation

Watering can be as simple as a soaker hose along the south side of your structure and wrapping around the east and west ends. The hose should be placed next to your foundation or as close as possible. I suggest that you use a timer and set the system to come on during the night, so there is less evaporation. 

Make sure no big trees are to close to the structure. Big trees consume a lot of water and can actually create more drought conditions. 

A sprinkler system can be an asset during summer months. Make sure if a sprinkler is being used that water is placed along the foundation for saturation of the soil.

The key to minimizing foundation movement is to keep the moisture content constant around your structure.   

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