Drought is harmful to your home, too

Belleville News-DemocratJuly 13, 2012 

The danger waged by the ongoing drought is not limited to your plants and garden.

It also can hurt your house. The clay soils that cover the landscape shrink as more moisture leaves and the ground dries up and potentially compromises home foundations

In some cases, this historic heat wave has left gaping holes as the soil contracts from the heat. St. Louis-area waterproofing and foundation repair business Helitech, which includes an office in Caseyville, has already fielded a number of calls concerning foundation damage. Territory manager Tim Meyer said that at one home in Highland, workers saw where the ground had pulled away from the basement, leaving a hand's-width space.

"It's a big problem," Meyer said. "We're getting phone calls in early July that we typically don't get until late August or September. We usually start seeing this late in the summer and into the fall. This year, we have extensive drought this early in the year that we haven't seen in the last 15 years."

Meyer said the drought is having a more severe effect on porches, driveways and sidewalks, causing cracks as the soil pulls away and these surfaces sink.

Another metro-east foundation and basement repair business is used to being busy when it rains. However, Woods Basement Systems in Collinsville has been seeing their service in high demand at a time when rainfall has been scarce. A severe lack of rain can threaten a foundation of a home, just as excessive rain can, the company says.

"We get calls usually in the fall in September and October when the rains come back," said company marketing manager Dave Thompson. "When it gets this dry this long, with temperatures in excess of 102, 104 degrees, it's like getting two inches of rain or four inches of rain, in reverse."

The heat and arid weather has also taken its toll on trees. Kate Meurer, of Meurer Brothers Inc. in Belleville, said the metro-east tree service has recently received three times the amount of calls related to stressed trees, especially evergreens, and has forced Meurer Brothers to remove some trees."

We've had calls, e-mails, photos and on-site visit requests for all sorts of stress-related problems directly attributed to this dry weather," Meurer said."

The dry weather we have had, combined with a real mild winter, has made for an increase in problems," Meurer added. "Not only with insects and disease, but the extreme drought combined with it is setting the stage this summer for a lot of problems for landscaping

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