The Effects of Drought on Foundations

Just over a month ago, we sent out the warning about drought conditions that were beginning to be noticeable in our area.  If you have paid any attention to the skies since then, you know our concerns are now being realized.

According to a report released this morning by NOAA*, almost one half of the Midwest is currently experiencing a drought at the “severe”, “extreme”, or “exceptional” level. The only areas not affected are eastern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin and Michigan. Some of the worst hit areas would include western Kentucky and almost one half of Indiana. Reports in the local news programs have already labeled this as the worst drought in our area in over 24 years.

The clay-based soils which are typical in our area are susceptible to changes in moisture content. Wet conditions cause clay-based soils to expand. Dry conditions cause clay-based soils to contract. As soils contract, they pull away from the foundations on homes and businesses allowing settlement to occur. This will show up in one or more of the following ways:

  • Bricks or walls cracking
  • Drywall separating

  • Stair step cracks in masonry mortar joints

  • Space between wall baseboard and floors

  • Chimneys tilting or leaning

  • Garage leaning

  • Caulking tearing at windows or doors

  • Windows and doors sticking

  • Roof or basement leaking

The only way to achieve a long term solution is to bypass the problem soil. The piers installed by United Dynamics, Inc. are hydraulically advanced through soil to reach bedrock or load bearing strata. The steel pier transfers the weight of the building from the failing foundation system to the pier itself, thus preventing any future additional settlement. In some instances, lifting of the structure is possible allowing for the correction of problem doors or windows and the closure of existing cracks.


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We were happy with the work done and the manner in which it was carried out. Would contact UDI again (but hope we don't need to). Phillip was knowledgeable and thorough.

Marc B.
Louisville, KY