Drought continues to cling to the western states. Mountain snowfall has been thin through much of the winter months and water levels in many lakes and reservoirs have less water than they did a year ago. Parts of Colorado have been declared extreme drought areas. Our neighbors to the north in Oklahoma and Nebraska are facing rainfall deficits of up to 16 inches with 55.8 % of the United States remaining in drought conditions. Unless spring snow and rainfall picks up, it could be a long hot summer.
In the Lone Star State, not one inch of rain fell in parts of Texas during February. Parts of North, South and Southwest Texas moved back into the exceptional drought category. The record snowstorm that dropped 19.1 inches of snow on Amarillo pulled much of the panhandle out of the worst drought category. Thankfully for those of us in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, we’ve had slightly above normal rain levels in January and February. Lake levels in North and Central Texas are at healthy levels despite the continued drought. The big question is how much rain we will have in the coming months of April, May, June and October, our four wettest months.
What concern should drought be to homeowners? A lot, since most of North Texas sits on an active clay zone that runs up into Oklahoma.
- Clay soil expands when moist and contracts when it dries.
- 2011 was the driest year on record for Texas.
- Most of the cities surrounding Dallas (Richardson, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Frisco, Garland and Mesquite) were under mandatory water restrictions.
- Foundations bent and cracked as dirt surrounding the slab pulled away in the long hot summer.
On the insurance side, damage to the slab caused by earth movement and erosion (think drying and pulling away from the slab) is not covered by any homeowner policy I’ve seen. Slab access and egress coverage is optional coverage designed to address a leak that develops under the slab, but only in the case of a water leak.
This means it’s vitally important for homeowners to water their home’s foundations.
- Check your city’s current rules for water use.
- Dallas homeowners can water their foundation on any day of the week during the allowed watering hours (12:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. & 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.).
- Other cities surrounding Dallas allow foundation watering as an exception to outdoor watering, but they require the use of drip irrigation and soaker hoses except between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.).
- Homes with pier and beam foundations also need to be watered on a regular basis to keep the foundation from sagging in different areas.
In order to be effective, soaker hoses need to be placed 18 to 24 inches away from the foundation.
- The goal is not to keep a constant level of moisture (not too wet nor too dry).
- If the ground becomes muddy, there’s too much water.
- If the ground becomes dry and cracks, it needs more water.
- Water each area for 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week.
Following these simple measures will assist to keep your foundation in great shape and help avoid expensive foundation repairs.
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