In old Western movies, dust always adds that climactic element to a scene. The hero steps into town to face off with the villain, who appears behind that dwindling cloud of dust. Generally, dust indicates a drought, something those in the West know about well. During extreme droughts, the ground will often crack and break apart. This may be good for filming purposes, but when it comes to the environment, dry soil is never a good thing. One of the things it really affects is your foundation.
Duel: Dry Soil VS. Your Foundation
Just how bad is dry soil? Foundations work by transferring structural loads to the soil beneath them. This level of weight transference requires a fairly good amount of soil stability. During droughts, when soils are not exposed to moisture, they shrink back. If this shrinking happens to soils underneath your foundation, it will sink down to the soil level. This can lead to multiple problems down the road, including structural cracks and settlement.
Showdown: Combating Dry Soil
So how do you combat dry soil? Although no two situations are exactly the same, there are a couple of ways you can help eliminate cracked and dusty soil. These include:
- Watering – Take a look around the perimeter of your house. If you notice cracked or excessively dry soils, add moisture back by watering. Generally, you should water often until the cracking or chalkiness disappears. Just make sure not to overwater to prevent other problems.
- Installing Automatic Sprinkler Systems – Automatic sprinkler systems or soaker hoses make regular watering easy. Ideally, they should be placed 12” to 18” from your foundation and roughly 3” underground. A good timing system could be 15 minutes twice a day.
Also, during times of drought, make sure to check with your municipal department before heavy water usage. Make sure you know what the restrictions are to avoid overuse.
Shaking the Dust from Your Feet
So, enjoy the Western uses of dust and cheer on the hero in his quest. But the next time you see dust outside your home, make sure to water dry soils. Both the environment and your foundation will thank you.