It’s been fairly dry this season. We’re in a drought, actually. So, if the soil around your house is dry, how could water be coming into a basement? Adam Tracy explains.
Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcast provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: We’re in the middle of a drought, so why is my foundation leaking?
Narrator: So, Adam, it’s been fairly dry this season and we’re in a drought, actually. If the soil around your house is dry, how could water be coming into a basement?
Adam: This has been a very challenging summer for keeping your lawn green, it’s been a very dry summer. In fact, it’s the driest summer on record in the Boston area. The drought monitor that was released today shows that all of Rhode Island is in extreme drought and about 50% of Massachusetts’ land area is in extreme drought, so that equates to about 85% of the homes that are in Massachusetts. It’s the same thing with Southern New Hampshire. So, this is a very dry summer. But that doesn’t mean that the foundation’s don’t still have leaks.
Many times, people get very confused by this because they’re looking out their lawn that used to be green, and it’s quite yellow and burnt out now, and yet, they somehow are getting water in the foundation. And there’s a couple ways this can happen, most common is that there is an issue with the irrigation system, and, you know, right now a lot of towns and cities have bans on irrigation with the laws to conserve water. But if you have a well, a lot of times you’re allowed to still continue to water your lawn.
In a lot of ways that you have an issue with a sprinkler system, you’ll have water against the foundation. So most often what we’ll suggest the people is, “Let’s look at, you know, what’s going on. When are you seeing the water?” And they tend to see it in the regular time intervals during the day, usually in the morning, when they wake up or sometimes in the evening, and usually, that coincides with the watering cycle for the lawn. Many times we can rule that as the immediate cause of water coming in the foundation. Whether it’s coming in through cracks, pipe penetrations, tie rods, etc. A lot of times it is sprinkler irrigation watering.
There are cases where we see it, where there’s no irrigation issue. Now how is it possible that a drought driven summer could have water in soil deep enough to cause water into the basement? Well, it depends on what kind of soil that you have. We’re going to put our science cap on for a moment here and just kind of talk about different types of soils and what it can mean for your foundation.
Most soils in New England and in the Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Southern New Hampshire area are some type of sandy loam or have some larger stones in there. But if you have a silky or clay type soil, that’s where it can wreak havoc and water retention. If you looked at more of a sandy type soil, typically what we’ll see on Cape Cod and kind of down on the South Shore, that’s mostly a sandy or sandy loam type soils.
Sandy loam type soils are very permeable, meaning that water can just run right through them very easily. You’re seeing a lot less water retention issue, where it kind of holds water against the foundation, but it can certainly cause water to run right through down to the bottom of the foundation, and cause issues where you’re looking at water table and sump pump issues. But if you have a clay type soil or a silky type soil, you can actually hold anywhere from 8 to 12 times the amount of water as any type soil. So if you have a grading of soil where somebody has gone through and taken the top couple feet and replaced that with nice loamy soil and then down 3 to 5 feet below the topsoil, you’ll have the silky and clay type soils that can hold water for weeks and months, even without rain.
It’s not uncommon to have a foundation issue where the topsoil is totally burnt out, you have no chance of watering your lawn anytime soon, every plant and blade of grass is turning brown. But down below, 3 to 5 feet down, you have an area that’s rich in moisture, not a lot of plant growth down there obviously, but you have a lot of retention of water. So that topsoil just allows the water to run right through and it kind of collects in the silky and clay type soil. So, we don’t know that, of course, you don’t know what your soil type is all the way down to the footing of your foundation, but that’s another area that we just, you can’t really predict because the top soil could be totally burnt out and dry, but down below, many feet down, it could actually be quite wet because of the soil type.
Just because the lawns are burnt out and we’re in the middle of a drought, doesn’t mean that the water can’t actually cause its way through the foundation. So, it’s important to keep an eye out. Again, the first pass would be to look at the irrigation system, next is basically, kind of, understand that even in a drought, your soil could hold a lot of moisture deep down against the foundation. So, it’s always good to deal with these problems now before the winter time, especially when it causes issues with icing and widening out cracks. So again, a little bit of science today, a little bit of drought today, but we can still have the leaky foundations.
Narrator: Thanks Adam, for explaining how a basement can have water problems even during a drought.
Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.