How Does Weather Impact a Foundation?

Brent Pearson | Construction Executive

When it comes to commercial properties, it pays to be prepared. However, there are few things as unpredictable as the weather. With there being several weeks left in hurricane season, the weather can have quite an impact on the foundations of different properties. Whether it’s a new home or a century-old commercial property, preserving the integrity and safety of the structure is paramount. For those in construction looking to learn more about how the weather can sway a foundation, below are several examples along with tips on prevention.

RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY!

Hurricanes are known for bringing strong winds and plenty of rain. This can spell disaster for buildings with weak foundations. Torrential downpours can cause wet and weak soil. Too much rain—whether generated by hurricanes or frequent storms—can negatively impact the foundations of commercial properties and homes as well. It can also cause the soil to weaken, which can lead to a foundation sinking into the ground. For those that may have crawl spaces underneath their properties, heavy rains may cause water to seep under and into it. Water will sit in the crawl space, and it could take days or even weeks to dry out, causing moisture and possible mold damage.

WHEN THE WELL RUNS DRY

Summer can be a fun time for some, but a terrible one for others. In some areas of the United States, the season can come with intense heat and a lack of rain. While too much rain can be detrimental for a property’s foundation, a dry spell can be just as problematic. Dry spells can last anywhere from a couple of days until a couple of weeks or months. This combined with exceptional heat can cause soil to dry up, which, in turn, can lead to cracking in the exterior bricks and foundation of various properties. Foundation cracks are not only detrimental but expensive to remedy and repair. Moreover, if left untreated, these cracks can lead to further damage that can allow moisture, which causes mold—and that’s an even bigger issue.

COOL AS A CUCUMBER

While those living in colder areas may enjoy not having to deal with scorching heat, they do have to keep an eye-out for what ice can do to a foundation if left untreated. For example, if cold water freezes soil it will melt, eventually causing instability. Ice could then freeze beneath the foundation, leading to disaster. Those that have properties with basements should be cautious because in extreme cases, freezing temperatures can trigger the collapse of basement walls. 

While the weather can undoubtedly impact a foundation, there are some preventative measures that building owners can take. Alpha Foundations recommends removing trees from around the perimeter of a building because the soil becomes wet and weak during rainy seasons. This can prevent a tree from falling over to impact the building. It is also a good idea to redirect water away from a building by utilizing gutters and creating drainage swales. Additionally, utilizing concrete joint sealant and having concrete resealed or tinted can go a long way in preventing issues too.

Having cracked or unleveled concrete caused by foundation problems can be quite an annoying issue. Not only does it ruin the curb appeal of a home or office building, but it can also be a potential safety hazard for visitors and any passersby. Foundation issues are not uncommon. However, being smart, acting fast and adapting to the changes of the weather will help property owners not only during hurricane season, but all year long.

If one of your cases is in need of a construction expert, estimates, insurance appraisal or umpire services in defect or insurance dispute – please call Advise & Consult, Inc. at 888.684.8305.