Fixing a cracked foundation is an expensive process--and one that only gets more expensive the longer you put it off. The cheapest way to address a cracked foundation, therefore, is to prevent it from becoming cracked in the first place. If you would like to learn more about protecting the integrity of your basement's foundation, read on. This article will answer three of the most common questions about one leading cause of cracked foundations--expansive soil.
What makes a soil expansive?
As its name would imply, an expansive soil is one whose volume is subject to drastic changes. In fact, expansive soil may undergo a change in volume of up to thirty percent. This is caused by the predominance of certain types of water absorbent clay. These clays suck up excess water, swelling outward in the process.
How does expansive soil damage a foundation?
The destructive potential of expansive soil has everything to do with pressure. You see, when such soil directly abuts your foundation wall, there is nowhere for that expansion to take place. Thus it exerts its pressure outward against the foundation. Over time, this leads to the development of cracks. Constant exposure to moisture then causes these cracks to grow and expand.
The situation only gets worse during periods of drought. As the soil dries out, its volume shrinks. This causes it to pull back from the foundation. This may leave the walls without the support they need. Worse still, the deep pockets that form in this way allow water to accumulate next to the foundation, leading soon to all manner of water damage. Preventing expansive soil is thus one of the best possible means of foundation waterproofing.
How can one protect against expansive soil?
There are two ways to mitigate the ill effects of expansive soil: increasing drainage and maintaining consistent moisture. Fortunately, both of these goals can be accomplished through the installation of regularly spaced drainage holes. These holes, which should be approximately two feet deep, can be easily created using a soil auger. Space holes evenly around the perimeter of your home.
Once the holes have been dug, fill each and every one of them up to the top with crushed gravel. This gravel fulfills two functions. First, it keeps the sides of the hole from collapsing inward. Second, it allows water to drain easily to deep soil. This promotes even absorption, and keeping the overall degree of expansion--and contraction--to a minimum. Thus your foundation will be subject to the least amount of expansive force.
For more information, contact Do-All Contracting or a similar company.