October 4, 2017 5:57 pm
Updated: October 4, 2017 8:47 pm

Regina’s drought causes an increase in basement sinking

We have all heard the legions of stories about problems caused by the summer’s dry conditions, from power meter fires to broken water mains. But as David Baxter tells us, there's another byproduct of the drought leaving homeowners with a sinking feeling.


This summer’s drought caused a number of infrastructure issues in Regina, such as consecutive months of record setting water main breaks and a number of SaskPower meter fires.

But there’s another issue under the surface that’s giving homeowners a sinking feeling.

Frank Wenzel’s basement has been slowly sinking for a number of years. However, the drought sped up the process and now his basement needs serious work.

“[The base] cracked and now the water comes in. So we’ve had water problems, and now we’ve got shrinkage problems, but now the front door won’t close,” Wenzel explained.

All of this is part of the problem caused by the sinking basement in Wenzel’s Whitmore Park home. His basement was jacked up so contractors could fill in the new holes underneath his floor joists with concrete. Metal beams will also be installed for added support.

A contractor fills a hole in Frank Wenzel’s basement with concrete.

Adrian Raaber/Global News

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“See it’s good back here,” he said motioning to the wall by his stairwell. “But then it drops probably close to three inches on the far wall,” he said.

A painful situation for Wenzel, but just another day’s work for AAA Solid Foundations. Company owner Steve Baurer said they received 50 calls on Tuesday about basement issues.

“The phone is ringing absolutely off the hook. We’ve had to activate more crews just to service people. We’ve had to get an answering service just to take calls,” he said.

GCA Construction has also seen increased calls related to sinking basements this year.

According to engineers, Bauer has worked with Regina’s clay-based soil and moisture levels in past years plays a major role in current basement issues.

The effect of excessively wet soil on a basement.

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“It expands and expands, and it will break concrete, put lateral movement on your walls, that’s the stuff that will heave floors, all kinds of things like that,” Bauer said, explaining the effect of excess moisture on the soil.

“Now what happens with this particular clay is when it dries out, poof! And all that heaving that you have just disappears and everything sinks.”

How Regina’s drought can effect a basement.

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Because of the clay-based soil it’s important to have an “envelope” of moisture in order to maintain solid foundation support, according to Bauer.

“Two years ago I was telling people make sure you shovel your snow, clean your eavestrough, have positive grading around your house. Now I’m telling them to water their foundations,” Bauer said.

“Because we want to keep it at equilibrium, we don’t want it to dry out so everything drops.”

Some of the key signs to watch out for with basement issues include cracked or bowing walls, water or leakage in your basement or crawl space, and uneven floor and crooked doors.

If you find any issues, Bauer recommends having them looked at early. Standard homeowners insurance does not cover damaged caused by shifting ground.

Fissures form in the dry ground near pilings on Steve Bauer’s property.

Adrian Raaber/Global News

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