A foundation supports the whole building but even the strongest ones face potential problems. Failure to spot these problems in time may result in big expenses.
Both pier and beam and slab foundations run the risk of encountering foundation issues.
What is the biggest threat to the stability of your foundation?
The contraction and expansion of soil.
In this article, we’ll touch on how soil impacts your foundation. We’ll take a look at the most common foundation problems and provide useful suggestions for homeowners.
The soil-foundation relationship
The soil under the foundation may differ in moisture levels. As a result, the soil may contract and expand unevenly. Some areas shrink, whereas others expand. This process puts significant stress on the health of the foundation of your home.
Let’s analyze some of the more common problems:
When clay soil gets a little wet it expands. When it gets too wet it turns to mud.
What do you do in the case of unhealthy soil saturation?
Usually, redirecting the property’s downspouts can help solve the problem. You can use the services of a drainage correction expert. Also, be on the lookout to assure that soil slopes away from the house.
Transpiration describes the process of plants pulling moisture from the soil. Trees are a major source of transpiration. When the weather’s very hot, trees absorb the moisture under the foundation and the soil in that area can shrink.
The localized shrinking of soil contributes to differential settlement, raising the risk of foundation failure.
Expansive clay soil
A certain soil type can increase the possibility of having foundation problems. The mechanism is easy. Expansive clay absorbs an incredible amount of water. When swollen, the clay can expand by more than 100%. On the other hand, sandy soil allows water to pass through.
The swelling of clay soil starts to lift the structure. When there’s less moisture, the soil contracts again. As a result of this up and down motion, differential settlement takes place which can break a foundation or cause loss of support.
Not all leaks will be noticeable enough to capture your attention. Sewer line leaks can be slow and steady.
The water from leaking pipes will cause water to enter the soil. In turn, the moisture content of the soil increases, resulting in clay soil expansion and stress on the foundation.
The fill material needs to support the home’s weight. Sometimes the fill material isn’t properly compacted. This almost guarantees foundation problems in the future.
Vibrations traveling from a close-by construction site may affect soil under your foundation. The vibrations can develop air voids. These voids make the soil’s structure loosen, effectively lowering its overall density.
Lower density affects the maximum pressure from the foundation that the soil can support. When this pressure threshold is too low, foundation failure has a higher chance of occurring.
Insufficient ground preparation
Non-stabilized soil often leads to issues. The soil beneath the foundation may start to unexpectedly move around.
In a similar fashion, soil grading is essential. Improper grading fails to direct the water away from the property. The water starts to drain into the soil under the foundation raising the risk of foundation failure.
What are the signs of foundation failure?
Take a look at the following list of potential signs indicating serious foundation problems:
- Chimney tilt
- Sloping floors
- Sticky doors and windows
- Cracks in exterior and interior walls
- Nails sticking out
- Visible cracks in the foundation
- Walls that bulge or bow
Cracks are a frequent sign. These cracks may appear on the floors, ceilings, and walls.
How do I protect my foundation from soil damage?
The first step is to call a local foundation repair company. They can perform a soil analysis around the foundation.
Do you have a problem with dry soil?
Not having enough moisture causes drying, shrinking, and foundation settling. As mentioned, the settling risk is high if your house sits on clay soil.
If you see cracks, it can be a sign that the soil can’t efficiently carry the structure’s weight anymore. You should keep the soil’s moisture content high and stable. Make sure not to overwater the soil, you could damage the foundation by providing excessive moisture. Soil should be damp but not muddy.
Adequate drainage ensures that water doesn’t start pooling. Improper water drainage can create uneven moisture around the foundation. Be certain that the drainage works well. Otherwise, fighting soil dryness causes new issues.
The bottom line: does soil cause foundation failure?
Yes, there are quite a few ways that soil contributes to foundation failure. There’s a strong correlation between your home’s foundation and the soil.
The main factor is the soil’s moisture level:
A) Too much moisture
B) Not enough moisture
Both situations could result in expansion and contraction affecting the foundation.
Poor ground preparation, fill material problems, and leaking pipes contribute to foundation failure as well. It is recommended to consult a professional foundation repair company. They can conduct the necessary tests and are able to provide you with the most suitable steps to take.