Soil Shrinkage and Your Foundation

Soil Shrinkage and Your Foundation

What Every Homeowner Should Know About Soil Shrinkage and How Ram Jack of Texas Can Help

Did you know that a lack of moisture can be just as damaging to your home’s foundation as excessive moisture?  It’s true.  When the soil beneath your home dries out, it shrinks, which can lead to the formation of gaps between the soil and your foundation.  Over time, the foundation settles into the empty space, causing the formation of cracks as well as an uneven foundation surface.  Eventually, soil shrinkage may even lead to flooding, as heavy rain or runoff can fill the newly created gap with water and seep into the basement.

Soil Type and Soil Shrinkage

The susceptibility of your home to soil shrinkage and resultant foundation damage depends on the type of soil on which your home rests.  Soil that is rich in clay is most susceptible to soil shrinkage, as clay easily absorbs or releases moisture based on surrounding conditions.  Soil that is extremely rocky is less susceptible to soil shrinkage. Shale is one exception.  Depending on how much clay the shale contains, it may or may not experience expansion and shrinkage.  Finally, sand and loom are less likely to shrink in dry conditions, but they are susceptible to erosion, which can be just as damaging as soil shrinkage.

Signs of Soil Shrinkage

If you’re worried about soil shrinkage with your home, take a look around your house.  Each of the following may be a sign that your soil is shrinking:

  • Soil is pulling away from your foundation or basement walls
  • Sticking doors and windows
  • Cracks in the walls or ceiling
  • Cracks in the foundation
  • Uneven floors
  • Wall and ceiling lines that are no longer straight

What to Do About Soil Shrinkage

There are numerous steps you can take to prevent damage from soil shrinkage.  First, ensure that you have a fully functional drainage system.  This includes a properly graded yard, a drainage pipe along the footing, and a drainage plane along the exterior basement or foundation wall.  Second, maintain the moisture content in the soil around your home.  If the soil around your home is drying out, use a hose to saturate it with water.  Apply water evenly 1-2 feet from the foundation or basement wall.  After wetting the soil, allow it to penetrate and absorb for a few hours before repeating the process.  Be careful not to fill any gaps next to the walls with water, as water in the gaps may leak into the basement.

What if the Damage is Already Done?

If you see any of the signs listed above or suspect a damaged foundation, it’s best to contact an expert.  Ram Jack of Texas is experienced in all types of foundation problems and has the expertise and skill to repair your foundation. Call (713) 597-8970.  We’re at your service.

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