What do you do when ground pulls away from foundation?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

When you notice that the soil around your foundation is pulling away, it is important to take action to prevent any potential damage to your home. Here is a detailed step-by-step guide on what to do in such a situation:

1. Water the soil evenly: During extended dry periods, the soil around the foundation tends to dry out and shrink, causing it to pull away from the basement wall. To counteract this, it is crucial to water the soil evenly around the entire foundation. However, it is important to avoid applying water directly into the gap between the soil and the foundation, as this could lead to water intrusion into the basement. Instead, apply water 1 to 2 feet away from the edge of the foundation.

2. Use a sprinkler system or soaker hose: To ensure even watering, you may consider using a sprinkler system or a soaker hose. These methods allow for controlled and consistent irrigation, preventing excessive water application that might lead to pooling or runoff. By applying water gradually and evenly, you can gradually rehydrate the soil and prevent further shrinkage.

3. Water deeply and infrequently: When watering the soil, it is important to do so deeply rather than shallowly. This encourages the roots of plants and trees around the foundation to grow deeper, reaching the moisture-rich areas of the soil. By watering deeply, you promote a healthier and more stable soil condition, reducing the risk of soil pulling away from the foundation in the future. However, it is equally important to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to other issues such as waterlogging or excessive moisture around the foundation.

4. Monitor the soil moisture levels: Regularly monitor the moisture levels of the soil around the foundation to ensure it remains adequately hydrated. You can use a soil moisture meter or simply visually inspect the soil for signs of dryness. If you notice the soil starting to dry out again, resume watering to maintain a consistent moisture level. It is important to be vigilant during dry periods, as soil shrinkage can occur rapidly and potentially cause damage to the foundation.

5. Consider implementing other moisture-retaining methods: In addition to watering, there are other measures you can take to retain moisture in the soil around the foundation. For example, you can apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or straw, to the soil surface. This helps to prevent water evaporation, maintain soil moisture, and reduce the risk of soil shrinkage. Additionally, planting drought-resistant vegetation or using drought-tolerant landscaping techniques can help minimize the need for excessive watering.

6. Seek professional assistance if needed: If you notice significant soil pulling away from the foundation or if you experience any signs of foundation damage, it is advisable to seek professional assistance. A foundation specialist or a structural engineer can assess the situation and provide expert advice or recommendations tailored to your specific situation. They can determine if any additional measures, such as foundation repairs or drainage improvements, are necessary to ensure the stability and integrity of your home’s foundation.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to foundation issues. By regularly monitoring the soil moisture levels, implementing appropriate watering techniques, and seeking professional help when needed, you can effectively address and mitigate the risks associated with soil pulling away from the foundation.