Clay soil doesn’t seem to be an issue for some homeowners in Columbus, OH, until it starts affecting their home. The truth is clay soil is extremely damaging to the foundation especially in wet conditions. In fact, it’s responsible for more damage than other geologic hazards and rough weather.
Handling clay soil after construction is difficult as you have little control over what happens during wet conditions. Clay soil expands when it comes into contact with water and shrinks when it dries up. This cycle of swelling and shrinkage has a damaging effect on your property. If your home is built on clay soil, you’ll want to read this article to understand how this soil affects you and what you can do to protect your home.
Understanding Clay Soil
Clay soils have minerals that can bond water within their structure and expand. In addition, they carry a negative charge and can bond molecules of water. This soil type also has the largest spore space. It’s these properties that enable clay to absorb water and expand in volume until it gets saturated.
While clay soils can hold water, only half of it is available to plants and crops. The more the soil gets wet, the more it loses its ability to hold your home’s foundation. It’s similar to what happens when you walk across a soggy lawn. Your feet will sink right into the mud.
Why is Clay Soil Under the Foundation Damp?
There are two reasons the foundation soils are getting wet. One is the heavy rainfall that saturates the soil. Clay soil will hold a lot of this water and will start softening. This makes the foundation soil weak and leads to foundation shift. The other reason is poor drainage. Water will collect around the foundation if it has nowhere to go. It will dampen the soil directly around and underneath your home and can lead to serious foundation problems.
We encourage you to perform biannual checks from the inside out to get a clear picture of the situation around your home’s foundation. A foundation contractor with years of experience can do a thorough evaluation and tell you what’s ailing your foundation.
Is Damp Clay Soil Dangerous?
Clay soil tends to cause an upheaval when it gets wet. The swelling soils can produce an upward force of 5,000 pounds per square foot. Such a tremendous force can easily push the foundation out of its level, leading to structural damage. It’s not uncommon for the expansive soil to displace the foundation by six to eight inches.
In hot weather, clay soil dries out and shrinks. The soil is too weak to hold the weight of the foundation, so it will crumble in, which often leads to foundation settlement, cracks, and gaps around the house. Left unchecked, these gaps will easily allow water in during the next storm, repeating the expansion cycle.
As well as causing structural problems, wet clay soil can make your foundation less stable and compromise the structural integrity of your house.
Ways to Prevent Wet Clay Soil
Every foundation incident that has water as its root cause needs urgent attention. Delay the issue and you could be staring at serious damage and costly repairs. Here are several measures you can implement to control the soil moisture content and its effects around your home.
- Correct a negative slope on your yard so water flows out and away from your home.
- Maintain your gutters and downspouts so they can channel water from the roof far away from your home’s foundation.
- Ensure the closest tree stands at least 10 feet from your home.
- Control the watering or irrigation of plants next to the foundation.
- Build a solid foundation wall that can withstand hydrostatic environmental loads and the pressure from saturated clay soil.
- Make sure no neighbor drains water onto your yard or near your house.
- Install an exterior drainage system around your home’s perimeter to move water away.
- Make sure the condensation line of the air conditioner discharges farther from the foundation.
- Avoid overwatering the lawn or yard in dry weather.
Protect Your Foundation
Do you suspect that wet clay soil is behind your foundation issues or cracks in Columbus, OH? Contact the foundation repair experts at Ohio Basement Authority for a free inspection and repair quote. We’ll assess the foundation for signs of structural damage then apply the best fix to your situation.