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Drought Causing Foundation Problems in Iowa Homes



Story Created: Aug 4, 2012 at 10:58 PM CDT

Story Updated: Apr 23, 2014 at 2:56 PM CDT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — This year’s record drought is hurting more than crops and lawns, it’s also hurting Iowa homes’ foundations, according to experts.The extreme drought has caused ground surrounding Iowa homes to contract and pull away from foundations, causing them to shift, The Des Moines Register reported.

That’s led to widening cracks in walls, sticking windows and doors and nails popping from walls, ceilings and floors.

“Right now, we are getting calls daily,” said Justin Porter, owner of Iowa Foundation Repair of Des Moines. He and his crew have been working on a house in Des Moines’ west side, shoring up a foundation where big gaps had emerged between concrete blocks.

Fixing a foundation can be expensive, with costs generally starting at $5,000 and going up from there, depending on the size of the house and extent of damage.

A home’s structural problems tend to worsen under drought conditions as severe as those seen this year, said Tom Henderson, marketing director of Midwest Basement Systems.

“Quite a bit of the business we are getting deals with foundation repairs, replacements of basement foundation walls, a lot of bracing and what we call ‘piering,’ ” to stabilize foundations, Henderson said.

Calls from homeowners in Iowa usually are about water in basements, but that’s changed this summer, said Corey Utsler, general manager of Anchored Walls of Winterset.

The drought-related problems frequently involve homes where additions have been made, including garages, porches and other rooms, Utsler said. The original building typically has a deeper foundation. The later addition, with a more shallow foundation, pulls away from the original foundation, he said.

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