by Julian De La Torre
Soil contains three main organic materials: sand, silt and clay. Clay particles are extremely small, which means many of them can exist in a tiny space. This increases the density of the soil and helps create a smooth texture.
Soil that has a high concentration of clay particles is called expansive soil. When the soil becomes wet, the clay particles absorb the water. This causes the soil to expand.
If a house has been built on clay soil, the expansion can lift a foundation. Sometimes the lifting occurs in different areas of the foundation. The amount and location of the lifting is determined by the building load and how much moisture is present.
Eventually, the clay will dry. When it does, the soil will shrink, creating even more foundation problems.
Foundation lifting and settling will eventually cause foundation cracks. The cracks will allow more moisture to enter the structure, which can worsen the damage. Signs of foundation problems include sloping floors, bulging walls, and doors that won’t open or shut properly.
One way to remedy foundation problems caused by expansive soil is to extend the foundation past the area where the soil’s water fluctuates. You can also add more drainage around the structure so water is channeled away from it. Strengthening the foundation is another option. A strong foundation can withstand lifting and settling.
If you live in an area with significant wet and dry seasons, you will probably end up having more foundation problems than homeowners who live in areas where the weather is more consistent. But also keep in mind that other sources of water, like sprinklers, can impact soil moisture content as well.
If your home was built on expansive soil, call a professional foundation contractor and get them to conduct a foundation inspection. They will be able to address any foundation issues related to moisture in the soil.
Julian De La Torre, expert in Los Angeles foundation repair, inspection & house leveling (Los Angeles) and founder of Julian Construction (http://www.julianconstruction.com) in Los Angeles, has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms & local departments of building & safety. The company has done more home foundation repair (Los Angeles) than any other company in the area over the last five years (http://julianconstruction.com/about-2/). Julian Construction owns its own company and is a “no middlemen” model–no salesmen or subcontractors–you get the principals of the company & its workers under your home. Learn more about Julian Construction at http://losangelesfoundationrepair.us/. Watch their video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I8j7dXzpj4