Expanding Soil and Your Houston Home’s Foundation

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When thinking about what could cause foundation damage, not many stop to consider that the soil their house sits on top of could be the cause of a lot of future repairs! This especially turns out to be true when the soil that a house sits on is expansive clay soil. The nature of this soil can negatively impact the hardiness of the foundation, leaving you with an expensive repair bill at the end of the day. In order to avoid this, it is really important to know how to know if you have clay soil, how to repair any damage that might exist, and how to prevent any damage that might occur in the future. 

How to Prevent Foundation Problems

In preventing foundation problems, it is important to know what is causing the damage. That is expansive clay soil. These soils are the kinds that contain smectite clays, which are minerals capable of absorbing water. While water absorption may seem like it’s a good thing, when it comes to a foundation, it is entirely the opposite. The more water absorbed, the bigger they get. In that case, it can place force on the foundation of the structure and cause damage to the structure. Generally, this will show in terms of cracked foundations and walls, or even floors. If it gets bad enough, it can impact the upper floors of the home. When the water dries up, the shrinking of the clay will cause the soil to shift again, leaving the foundation to shift more, and for issues to potentially develop in the soil. 

If you are building a house, there are a few steps that you can take in order to prevent foundation problems. You can either implement a sloped landscape or, you can implement a really good, quality drainage system. Sloped landscapes are great for directing water away from the house and foundation and into other areas of the land. This leaves the water to be absorbed by other soil, and keeps the expansion around the house to a minimum. A good drainage system will drain the water away from the house and leave your foundation free of any extra pressure from the soil that is changing in size. 

There are a few other steps that can be taken to guarantee that you are doing all you can to save yourself from potential clay soil problems! One tip is to hydrate the foundation site up to twelve feet deep and cover it with plastic until construction starts. After building, you will have to maintain that level of moisture in the soil year-round. If your home already is built on this type of soil, then take care to execute this step year-round to even out the foundation. Pay close attention to areas with more sunlight! You should also mind where you place trees, as wandering roots can cause their own foundational problems, and install root barriers. 

How to Fix Foundation Problems

Fixing foundational problems that occur because of the shrinking and growing of expansive clay soil is relatively similar to any other foundational problem fix! Uneven drying and water accumulation can leave the clay soil uneven, cracked, and can cause certain parts of your foundation to heave and other parts of your foundation to sink. In order to fix this, it is important to level out the foundation. First, the home site will be prepared in order to prevent unnecessary damage to the home or the surrounding landscape. After that comes the excavation, which will create holes under the load-bearing beams of the home, so that contractors have access to the foundation, where they will then place solid concrete cylinders into each of the excavated holes. Each cylinder will then be lifted to the appropriate height, the holes will be backfilled, and cleanup will follow. 

With any foundational problems, it is always best to have a professional take a look! If you think that your home may be sitting on clay soil and you are worried about potential side effects, reach out to us today! We offer a free estimate or assessment in order for you to know everything you need to know about the well-being of your foundation. For any questions, do not hesitate to reach out!

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