The soil in Nebraska can be great for farming but it isn’t always the best for your foundation. Much of the soil is what is known as ‘expansive soil,’ and this can be a problem.
You can think of expansive soil as being like a sponge. When it is soaked with water, it holds onto it and it expands. If you let the sponge sit out of water for an extensive amount of time, it dries out and shrinks. Of course, once you add water to the sponge, it expands again.
The soil throughout Nebraska is expansive and it has the same qualities. During the wet months of the year, the soil expands. When we experience dry conditions or a drought, the soil will contract. In either case, it can wreak havoc on your foundation.
What causes soil to pull away from the foundation?
Have you noticed a gap forming between the soil and your foundation? This may happen when the weather is dry and the soil is shrinking as a result.
If the dry conditions persist, you may also see that the gap will expand between the foundation and the surrounding soil. Other cracks will also appear in the soil, which is common in heavy drought conditions.
There is an opposite effect that occurs when the soil is wet. This is often seen during the winter months or when snow melts and saturates the soil. Heavy rainfall in the spring and summer months can also lead to this issue.
They call it expansive soil because it will expand when wet. Since clay soil can hold onto a considerable amount of water, it can also expand quite far, leading to excessive pressure being placed on a foundation.
This type of hydrostatic pressure that occurs during wet times of the year can lead to cracks in the foundation or foundation heave. Dry soil can allow the foundation to shift or sink. In either case, it is an issue for the entire structure.
What is Done To Protect The Foundation?
We don’t often give much thought to the soil under our feet (or our homes) until problems occur. That is especially true for dry soil.
When the soil is wet, the problems tend to be obvious. We might set up systems to keep the water from putting pressure on the foundation, such as french drains or downspout extensions.
We tend to overlook the possibility that dry soil may be just as damaging. We might water the soil to keep the grass green, but that is usually only enough to keep the first few inches of soil wet.
Even though summer soil shrinkage is often ignored, it is something that can cause serious issues. What can you do to fix the problem, and what should you never do? Knowing will help you to make the best decision.
Should You Hydrate the Soil?
One of the first options you might consider is turning on the hose and hydrating the soil at the foundation. You might have even been told to do this, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.
It is true that hydrating the soil near the foundation will cause it to expand and close the gap. The problem is, that most homeowners do not know how much water to use or how often they should use it.
Hydrating the soil too much can cause just as many problems as leaving it dry. As the soil expands, it can put pressure on the foundation wall. This hydrostatic pressure could lead to cracks in the foundation, wall buckling, and foundation failure.
In addition, water near the foundation could get into the crawlspace and basement through any existing cracks or around openings, such as the windows.
There are other things that you should not do when the soil is pulling away from the foundation.
Don’t Add Additional Soil: It may seem like a logical decision to add additional soil into the gap between the existing soil and the foundation. The problem is that you are filling a gap that will eventually close when the soil gets wet again.
Any hydrostatic pressure that is put on the foundation from the expansive soil will be increased. It is more likely to cause cracking, bowing, and foundation failure.
Don’t Ignore the Problem: Like any other issue, ignoring the fact that the soil is pulling away from the foundation is not going to make it go away. This is more than a sign of dry soil, it is a sign of incompetent soil.
Rather than ignoring the problem until it grows larger, you should contact EPP Foundation Repair and request a free inspection. It’s the only way to know what is really happening with your foundation.
Don’t Fill the Gap with Sand: Some well-meaning people and even some contractors will recommend you fill the gap with sand. Doing so is useless and may even cause some harm.
More than likely, the sand will wash away once it rains. In a worst-case scenario, the sand will fill the void and when it rains, it will put more pressure on the foundation walls, causing them to crack or buckle.
What Should You Do When The Soil Pulls Away from the Foundation?
There are some steps you can take when you notice the soil pulling away from the foundation. These steps will both work to correct the problem and keep it from growing.
Contact EPP for a Foundation Inspection: When the soil pulls away from the foundation, it is a sign of a possible problem but it doesn’t mean your foundation is on its last leg. The only way to know for sure is to contact Epp Foundation Repair and request a free foundation inspection.
Set up an Annual Plan for Taking Care of Your Lawn and Soil: Although we recommend that you do not try to water the foundation for the purpose of filling the gap between the wall and the soil, watering the lawn is something we do recommend. Having a regular and reasonable schedule for watering your lawn may help to keep the gap to a minimum.
Watch for Signs of Foundation Failure: Keep your eye out for additional signs of foundation problems, such as horizontal or stairstep cracks in the foundation walls, sticking windows and doors, uneven floors, and higher-than-usual energy bills. If you see these signs, contact EPP Foundation Repair for a free foundation inspection.
How EPP Can Fix the Problem
We have been helping homeowners in Nebraska with their foundations for decades. If you notice the soil pulling away from your foundation or any other sign of foundation problems, you can count on us to be there to help.
Here are some of the ways we help you and your foundation:
Put Your Mind at Ease: Home problems can keep you up at night and affect your quality of life during the day. With our free foundation inspection and estimate, you will know exactly what is wrong and what can be done to make it right again.
Save You from Additional Problems with Your Foundation: When you ignore a problem, it is only going to get bigger. The last thing you want to do when you have foundation problems is to see them grow. Epp Foundation Repair can fix the issue and save you additional headaches, time, and money.
Do Any Necessary Foundation Repair: Above all, Epp Foundation Repair is your best choice for any foundation repair project. From underpinning to structural crack repair to foundation replacement, we do it all.
The bottom line is, don’t ignore a problem when the soil is pulling away from the foundation. It isn’t automatically a problem with the foundation itself but it could signal a need to take corrective measures.
At Epp Foundation Repair, we can care for any and all of your foundation needs. Contact us today to take the first step with a free foundation repair and estimate. One of our friendly foundation repair professionals will get back to you quickly.