Tips on how to protect your home's foundation in the heat

LEAWOOD, Kan. - With temperatures in the Kansas City area soaring as the drought worsens, homeowners who have cut back or stopped watering their lawns to avoid a hefty water bill could end up paying an expensive foundation bill instead. That's because the grass not only needs water, the perimeter of our homes do, too.

Joanne Rootes owns a house in Leawood, Kan. She's made keeping her plants and shrubs alive this summer a priority, but knows she needs to do more.

"I haven't thought about the foundation as much as I should," Rootes admitted.

Brad Keller with Atlantis Drainage Solutions in Kansas City said the key is to be proactive.

"Take the necessary steps so you don't have a nightmare on your hands in the future," Keller said.

It's more important than ever to take steps to protect your home. Here's why: Scorching temperatures cause the ground to shrink and when that happens, homes can settle. Cracks can appear along the walls and doors may start to stick.

Rootes said she's seen some of the signs.

"Already some of my doors don't fit as well as they did before this drought," she said.

Keller added, "The dirt that has pulled away from your foundation can go all the way down to your footing and cause settling… basically a nightmare."

It's a nightmare that could eventually cost thousands of dollars to fix.

Keller recommends watering at least two inches once a week or more but not right up against the foundation, so that the water doesn't seep down into the cracks in the soil against the house.

"Those voids that crack and pull away it can go all the way down to the footing and cause your foundation to settle," said Keller.

A sprinkler system is best but an inexpensive soaker hose can do the trick. Once wet, the soil will swell and expand back against the foundation. But if soil needs to be added, Keller said to avoid using top soil and instead recommends a clay-like soil found at many lawn and garden stores.

"A lot of people do think to use top soil but that's a no-no because it just settles…water can go right through it. So you want something that's going to shed the water away from the house," Keller explained.

One more quick and easy thing to check: a home's downspouts and gutters to see if the heat is causing them to pull away from the house. Also, homeowners should repair any cracks in walls or peeling paint, especially in crevices near windows.

"Most people are thinking right now it's dry…let's let it go dormant," said Keller. "But if you get the call that your foundation has settled or has big cracks, I'd pay the $150 water bill. "

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