How Expansive Soils Impact Your Foundation

One of the biggest impacts on your home’s structural integrity is the soil that surrounds your home’s foundation. Soils play a big role in foundation support and can be detrimental if they are not stabilized to support the weight of your foundation. 

Expansive soils easily expand and contract depending on the moisture content. As they expand and contract, the soils shift and are not considered load-bearing soils to support your foundation. 

The weight of your foundation will then push down on the soils and cause settlement, which can lead to many other extensive problems inside and outside of your home. 

Different Types of Soils

There are many different types of soils in the ground that can impact the structural integrity of your foundation. Depending on which region of the country you live in, some soils may be more prevalent than others. 

The most common soil types across the country include:

  • Rock: Typically water-resistant and includes limestone, granite, or sandstone
  • Chalk: Soft and prone to erosion
  • Gravel and Sand: Typically holds together well when wet, but may need reinforcement
  • Clay: Expands and shrinks depending on moisture content, can be firm or soft
  • Peat: Typically very poor subsoils and often requires reinforcement 

In Southern Florida, clay soils are typically the most common types of soil we run into. Because of the humid climate in Florida, our clay soils tend to expand and contract frequently from the moisture content and can jeopardize the support for your home’s foundation. 

Given our climate, it’s important to have your foundation inspected to avoid damage from expansive soils.    

Why Do Soils Expand?

Expansive soils get their name from their ability to expand when water is added and then shrink when they dry out. This can cause challenges for homes and buildings built on this type of soil and cause the foundation to settle.  

Changing weather patterns usually activate the soils to expand and contract. During heavy rains, the water soaks the soil and causes them to expand as they become saturated. 

Hot and dry weather then causes the soils to shrink as they dry, creating voids in the soil.

The voids in the soil from the expansion and contraction cause the ground to lose its supportive base for your concrete slabs.

Impacts of Expansive Soils

Expansive soils can have a detrimental impact on your home and potentially decrease your home’s value as they impact structural integrity. 

As the soils are disrupted, the ground becomes weak and can no longer support the heavy concrete slabs above them. As a result, the concrete can settle further into the ground and cause damage to your home.

Foundation Settlement

As the soils expand underneath your foundation, this can create an unsupportive, uneven surface for your foundation to rest on. The heavy weight of your foundation can then settle into the ground and result in wall cracks inside or outside your home. 

Bowing Walls

Clay soils have a tendency to absorb and retain water. When this happens, they increase in volume and weight. This expansion exerts additional pressure on your home’s foundation, which can cause your basement walls to bow or buckle. 

Solutions to Combat Expansive Soils

NSquare offers a variety of solutions to permanently repair cracked, sinking foundations and bowing foundation walls to prevent further damage:

  • Push Piers
  • Helical Piers
  • Pin Piles
  • SmartJack® System

In addition to these solutions, we recommend homeowners ensure proper drainage around their homes by grading the soil properly.

Trust the Experts at NSquare, Inc.

If you notice any early signs of foundation settlement, it’s best to contact an expert right away to stop the problem before it gets worse. 

Our foundation experts at NSquare, Inc. can diagnose the issues of expansive soils and provide a solution for your home to prevent further damage. 

We offer quotes in South Florida, including Sarasota, Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. 

Call us today to schedule your appointment!