Drought, Extreme Heat Threaten Home Foundations

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MONTGOMERY CITY - Joan Cullom and her husband have been living in their home since 1991, but then in 2009, they began having problems with their foundation. Now, due in part to the extremely dry conditions, the Culloms have to get their house raised because the foundation settled. The dry weather causes dry soil which pulls away from a home's foundation. Without soil supporting the foundation, the house can sink or shift. Even though her family has put about $30,000 into foundation repairs in the past few years, Joan Cullom said it's worth it.

"We're going to live the rest of our lives here -- at least that's what we planned -- and we knew we wanted to keep the house in as good of condition as we could," said Cullom.

The Culloms aren't the only ones with foundation problems this summer. Dean Skelton has been working for Pro Foundation for 26 years. He said this summer has been particularly busier than most.

"This summer has been pretty dry," said Skelton. "And that can turn into a lot of foundation problems."

Skelton and his crew will be at the Cullom's house for 4-5 days this week digging down to the bottom of the foundation to put piers - a type of support beam - down into the ground underneath the house. Those piers will then raise the house about an inche.

Nick Doerge just started working on foundations about a week ago.

"We'll dig until we get there," said Doerge. "Sometimes it's two feet, sometimes it's six feet."

Digging out the holes for the piers is the majority of the work. Skelton and his crew will spend 2-3 days of digging before setting the piers and raising the house.

Skelton said homeowners need to be on the lookout for faults in their foundation especially during the extreme heat and dry conditions. He said windows or doors sticking, cracks in the floor, and cracks in the wall are just a few warning signs of a failed foundation. He added that if a homeowner finds these faults sooner, it will be cheaper in the long run.

"If the problem isn't corrected, then the equity of the home drops off greatly," said Skelton.

Cullom said she's glad the work is getting done -- even if it does mean a few days of listening to a jackhammer.

"I don't notice it too much," she said as she relaxed in her recliner reading a book.

Skelton said there really isn't much homeowners can do to keep those cracks from forming. While watering around a foundation is an option, Skelton said that if the rest of the soil is dry, it can still pull away from the foundation.