If you live in an area where drought is creating problems for your garden, keep a close eye on your water bills. As soil dries out, it can affect the pipes leading to and from your home, potentially causing breaks and cracks. Of course, those lead to water loss, which is something you want to avoid in times of drought. Here's a glance at why dried-out soil is a warning sign for your plumbing.

Shifting Soil

The more immediate effects of soil drying out are shifting pipes. As soil dehydrates, it shrinks and pulls away into those segments you see so often in news stories about drought-stricken areas. If the soil remains dry for a very long time and becomes quite dehydrated, the gaps between those segments can grow large enough that pipes in the area aren't supported well.

They move in the open spaces -- if there's no support under them, but if there's still heavy soil on top of them, there will be an imbalance that forces them to move -- and if they move enough, the connections can stretch and crack. The pipes can bend, and smaller cracks can form along the length of the bent section.

Contracting Soil

Sometimes it's not the soil underneath the pipes that's a problem -- it's the soil around the pipes. If you have clay soil, that soil can actually contract around the pipe and squeeze it. The pressure can cause the pipe to crack in that situation, too. If the crack is large enough, the water leaking out could wash some soil away -- enough to make the pipe move. So then you'd have a double-whammy hitting your plumbing.

Expanding Soil

There's a third effect on plumbing from severe drought, and that's when the drought ends. If your area starts receiving enough rain to moisten the soil again, the tight soil will loosen its grip and let more water leak out of the cracked pipe. If the problem was that the soil and pipe had shifted, the expanding soil can move the pipe yet again, potentially creating more cracks.

If you suddenly notice the grass or weeds in an area of your yard turning a lot greener than they were before, call plumbers in immediately. You can also walk through your yard on a regular basis, looking for spots that seem unusually healthy. Monitor your water bills for unexpected jumps, especially when rates haven't changed.

If you'd like to find out more about ways to protect your yard's pipes during a drought, contact plumbers in your area now, like Alexander's Plumbing And Pumps. You must find out if your pipes are headed toward trouble and whether any work needs to be done to shore them up. The result will be better water bills and better water conservation when you prevent cracked and leaking pipes.