dirt pulling away from foundation

Help! The Dirt Is Pulling Away from My Foundation. What Should I Do?

It’s hot, it’s dry, it’s summer, there’s just been an official drought declared for the Brazos Valley. . . and now there’s this big developing gap in between the base of your slab foundation and the dirt. Ack!! Is it time to panic? It feels like it’s time to panic . . . 

Anchor Foundation Repair Bryan College Station

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been assessing and repairing Brazos Valley foundations since 1985. We’ve been here in Central Texas for quite some time and know how these things go just about every summer. We’re starting to get calls about this exact thing and thought we’d put together an article to offer our best advice.

This article will put some perspective on the situation of the dirt pulling away from your foundation to calm your fears. We will offer our recommendations on how to handle this issue. We will also cover when you might have a true foundation problem that warrants a visit from a repair contractor for a look.

Should I Be Concerned About Dirt Pulling Away From My Slab?

If the only thing happening at your home is dirt pulling away from your foundation, then there’s no need to be concerned right now.

worried about foundation problems
  • Yes, it is a signal for you to realize that there is the *opportunity* for foundation settlement, but it’s not happening yet if you only have this one sign.
  • Yes, it is time to take a bit of preventative action, but not time for a foundation repair company to come out.

You’ve just got a case of really dry dirt at the moment. So ultimately, NO you don’t need to be concerned that your home is guaranteed to have foundation issues just because the dirt around your home is contracting due to summer dryness.

IF you have some other signs of foundation problems in your home, then there’s more reason for concern. But we will have more on that a little later . . . 

What Should I Do When There Is a Gap Between Soil and House?

don't freak out about foundation problems

If you notice this gap between your home and the soil, it’s a good time to start paying more attention to your home. By attention, I mean through observation as well as a little TLC. 

I also suggest some education for you on the signs of foundation settlement and problems– sorry, I know it’s summer, but a li’l schooling is in order.

Here’s my full prescription for what you should do when there is a gap between the soil and your house:

Each bullet point above is linked to another article that will expand on these action items. I know it would be *super nice* if all the info was neatly contained in this article, but it’s a lot to try to cram into one place. So you’ve got a bit of reading to do. 

To be fair, I did say it was going to be like school . . .

How to Water Around Your Foundation to Alleviate Gapping

Many people think that literally *watering your foundation* is what you need to do in this case. However, I find that to be an extreme approach and a bit of a myth.

You don’t want to raise your water bill exponentially. Plus, watering your foundation directly can sometimes backfire and cause other issues. So I suggest a more tempered approach.

water your lawn
This lawn was watered this summer . . . obviously very imperfectly but it’s not as bad as one that was not watered at all.

Water your lawn, water your landscaping, and water your trees. Keep everything alive. The worst thing that people do each summer is just give up on watering altogether and let it all turn crispy. Don’t throw your hands in the air and say, “Oh well!” Keep trying, even if it’s an imperfect effort, and don’t feel the need to go overboard.

Even if your grass looks dead right now, I promise if you water it will start to come back to life. The lawn watering will at least keep your soil gap issue from getting worse. It may even make the soil swell back up and close the gap.

Should I Fill The Space With Sand to Help My Foundation?

We heard of some people and even people calling themselves “foundation repairmen” who suggested filling the space with sand. I literally laughed out loud hearing this bit of preposterousness.

No, you should not fill the space with sand because:

  1. If it’s a DIY project, you just worked really hard for nothing.
  2. If you’re paying someone to do this, you’re wasting money.
  3. The sand will wash away when you water, 
  4. The sand doesn’t go where your slab needs support to prevent settlement,
  5. Plus, what happens when your expansive clay soil expands again?
no sand in your crack

The nature of expansive clay soil (like we have here in Texas) is that it expands when it’s wet and contracts when it’s dry. So that space that’s there right now is normally filled with something i.e. your soil. 

So if you cram something else in there then it’s just going to be in the way when your soil expands again. And it will expand again in the fall when the weather patterns change. . . 

This gimmick of filling the gap with sand is a money-making scheme pure and simple and we would never do this type of work or recommend it. Sand in your dirt gap will not do anything for you at all. If you want to fill the gap with something, fill it with your existing soil that should be expanding when you water your lawn regularly.

Why Not to Worry About the Gap Around Your Foundation

I said this earlier and it bears repeating, if you have no other signs of foundation settlement or problems around your home, then you really shouldn’t be worried at this point. Here are two things to think about instead:

  1. Worry comes from a lack of awareness of the true signs of foundation issues. If you take the time to absorb some of the resources we offer, you will feel more confident about the condition of your home.
  2. Weather patterns and systemic drought cannot be controlled even with yard watering. If the whole soil system of the city, county, and state is contracting – you cannot stop those forces of nature.

We want you to have a good handle on what’s happening around your home and the basics of foundation issues. So instead of worrying, empower yourself with knowledge so that if a foundation problem does develop, you will know exactly what needs to be done and when.

comparative drought maps Texas
Last year at this time was way worse than this year . . . 2023 is like a walk in the park right now.

We have summer drought around here literally every year. This year, 2023, is not that bad so far. Heck, even last year was worse than this year, and that wasn’t that bad either when you look at the drought retrospectives (2011 being one of the worst most recent years). One dry year is not going to suddenly wreck your slab. 

Foundation issues develop slowly over a great many years before the true signs of foundation settlement begin to appear. So please try not to worry, just water your grass . . .

How To Know When To Call For a Foundation Issue

diagonal wall crack means foundation problems

Now you have some actionable steps to raise awareness about your slab’s condition. It’s time to do some proactive watering and monitoring. When should you call a professional to look at your home? If you see diagonal cracks in your walls or have doors that are not working right, then you probably need to call someone.

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we’re not one of those companies out there trying to freak you out with dire warnings or take advantage of your fears about foundation issues. We would rather offer education and knowledge so that you can handle your foundation problems (if they should arise) with 100% confidence.

Want to know how we determine if someone has a foundation problem? We’ve got no secrets about our process and it’s all right here in this article: How to Know if Your Home Has Foundation Problems. Check it out and then give us a call when you’re ready.