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Drought Damaging Basements And Homes

December 18, 2012, 9:59 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Drought Damaging Basements And Homes

Is your basement starting to sink?  It likely could be due to this summer's drought.

The dry weather is the reason heavy-duty tools and equipment are in Jeff Flaten's eastside Sioux Falls home this week.

"Pretty soon, it just got to the point where something had to be done," Flaten said.

Small cracks in the drywall and a sticking front door led to the discovery of even larger cracks in the foundation this past summer.

"We looked at the outside of the house too, the blocks, and they were cracked.  A lot of cracking in the foundation so we knew something was going on," Flaten said.

Blackburn Basement Systems isn't surprised by the damage because they have been getting similar reports because of the drought.

"It's actually throughout most of the Midwest because I've talked to other companies in other states that are having issues in their areas too," Nate Proper with Blackburn Basement Systems said.

What happens is the soil dries up and it shrinks away from the foundation leaving a gap underneath the house.

"We see it mostly in clay soils as far as when it dries up, it shrinks," Proper said.

Flaten's house dropped about an inch and a half. Now a crew from Blackburn is driving steel pipes, or piers, into the ground underneath the home until they hit stable soil. Then they'll use a bracket to attach the pier to the house creating a permanent fix.

"Once we transfer the weight of the house onto our steel piers, it's no longer resting on the soil that was the problem in the first place," Proper said.

Depending on the situation, the fix can simply stabilize the home and keep it from sinking further, or it will actually lift the home back up to where it was. It's an expensive process that Flaten says isn't covered by insurance but work that needs to be done.

"It's something you want to take care of because it's not going to get better. It's going to eventually get worse until worst case scenario, you could have a collapse," Flaten said.

Blackburn Basement Systems says it’s so busy with work, it's booked through the beginning of March.

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