On Shifty Ground

Without a doubt, we spend a fair amount of time fixated on finding new and improved ways to please Mother Nature (and our wallets) around the...

Without a doubt, we spend a fair amount of time fixated on finding new and improved ways to please Mother Nature (and our wallets) around the home. Whether we're installing a more efficient water heater, buying an eco-friendly mattress, or taking on various weatherization tasks, so much attention - and this certainly isn't a bad thing - is placed on the structure itself and everything in it that we sometimes neglect to think about one crucial thing: the soil our homes sit on. A story published today in the New York Times reminds us that our homes are built on increasingly shifty ground.The story discusses how severe weather trends, particularly long periods of drought followed by drenching rains, can cause soil to shift and sink. This in turn, damages the foundations of homes and leads to costly headaches for homeowners. The culprit behind weather-induced foundation failure? Some would say climate change.Foundation repair services, of course, have been doing gangbusters in recent years - such companies have reported that business has as much as tripled in the last two decades - thanks in part to wild weather. And unfortunately, when a home's foundation is damaged by the shifting and sinking of soil, or subsidence, it is not covered by most homeowners' insurance policies. Ouch.Reports the NYT:
Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association indicates that since the 1990s, there has been an accelerating trend nationwide toward more extended dry periods followed by downpours. Whether due to random climate patterns or global warming, the swings between hot and dry weather and severe rain or snow have profoundly affected soil underneath buildings.
The article chats with homeowners who have spent a pretty penny stabilizing sinking homes. Geotechnical engineers, climate scientists and other experts on the matter weigh in as well. It's an eye-opening read, especially if you're buying or building a new home and are unsure about the stability of the soil at the site. It's also insightful if you live in an older home and don't know what to do when doors and windows won't close, the basement begins to bow, cracks form in the walls, and nonstop creaking sets in. It's an unsettling sensation to say the least. As Steven Derse of Nashville says: "You lose your sense of security. You love your home and then it literally turns on you."Have severe periods of drought and rain, possibly the effect of climate change, shaken you, and your home, to the core?Matt Hickman blogs about the home for the Mother Nature Network.Related Articles on Mother Nature Network:Photo (cc) by Flickr user hazelhouse20