Cracked foundations are one of the most difficult and expensive home improvement issues to address. Even if your foundation seems okay, it may be at risk depending on the type of soil around your home. If you would like to learn more about one of the most common causes of cracked foundations, read on. This article will provide answers to two common questions about expansive soil.
What is expansive soil?
Expansive soil is any soil that contains a high proportion of water-absorbent clays. As the moisture of such soil fluctuates, it can experience changes in volume as great as 30%. This means that when the soil is fully hydrated, it expands outward, placing extreme amounts of pressure on the foundation of your home. Over time, this type of pressure can cause serious damage that requires costly foundation repair efforts to fix.
Likewise, expansive soils also shrink when they become dry. When this happens, the soil recedes away from foundation walls, often causing problems due to insufficient support. Not only that, but excessively dry soil can lead to the formation of deep fissures. These allow water to penetrate deeply and rapidly, leading to even more extreme cycles of shrinking and swelling.
How can I prevent expansive soil from damaging my foundation?
If you live in a part of the country with a higher percentage of expansive soil, it's important to take measures to minimize the risk for your home. In most cases, this involves working to keep the moisture content of the soil around your home as consistent as possible. This task is generally the hardest during hot, dry summer months, when the top layer of soil tends to absorb whatever water happens to fall. As a result, the soil deeper down tends to dry out and shrink.
Luckily, you can improve the amount of water penetration through the use of a soil auger. This tool will allow you to drill holes down into the soil around your foundation, thus helping to keep the deeper soil hydrated. Ideally, you should drill a line of holes all the way around your house at a depth of around two feet. Each hole should also be two feet from its neighbors, as well as from the walls of your house.
After you've finished drilling your holes, they will need to be filled all the way with pea-sized crushed gravel. This gravel will help keep the hole from collapsing, while still allowing water to easily access the deeper soil. During dry spells, be sure that each of these holes receives water on a regular basis, either by watering them with a hose, or by setting up a sprinkler nearby.
If your home's foundation has already been damaged by expansive soil, contact a company like American Mud Jack Inc for help with getting it repaired.