MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Homes across central and southern Minnesota are sinking and experts say the drought is to blame.

Some houses have sunk 3 to 4 inches into the ground, costing homeowners tens of thousands of dollars.

Around late August, Gary Dahle noticed he could see light coming from inside his Waseca home, where the foundation meets the first floor. He quickly realized the gap in his wall was a sign that his foundation was sinking. Dahle had already watched two neighbors spend thousands having their homes professionally raised, so he improvised.

Normally used to removing excess water, Dahle hoped adding water to the hole where his sump pump rests would put needed moisture back into the soil around his home. He says it worked.

The most common fix is a system that basically props up your house on steel pipes and brackets, but for now Gary Dahle says he’ll wait and see if his fix lasts.

“If it doesn’t come up. If it stays there or drops again then it would be time to do something.”

Experts say houses in southern Minnesota, even the metro, are sinking because the soil is so dry from the drought. A high concentration of clay doesn’t help.

Nate Proper with American Waterworks in Mankato says, “Clay expands a lot when it’s wet, and it contracts a lot when it’s dry. When the soil contracts enough, and it shrinks, then it creates a void underneath your footing.”

Proper says his crews are seeing about 30 sinking houses a week. The price to fix the problem can range from $2,500 to more than $40,000.

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