Expansive Soil and Your Foundation

Of all the things that can have a negative impact on your home’s foundation in the Hamilton and Burlington area, perhaps one of the worst is something called expansive soil. Expansive soil is soil that changes depending on how much moisture there is. When the soil is very wet, it expands. And when the soil dries again, it contracts. As you can imagine, this can wreak havoc on your home’s foundation.

How do I know if I have expansive soil?

One of the most obvious characteristics of expansive soil is that it either develops large cracks or a popcorn-like texture when it is dry. It is often clay-like and feels sticky to the touch when it is wet, and it becomes hard and brittle when it is dry. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to identify as you might assume because the lack of these characteristics does not necessarily mean that your soil is not expansive.

Since expansive soil is quite common in valleys and areas that were once covered by water, it can be found throughout the Hamilton and Burlington area.

To know for certain whether you have expansive soil, you may need to hire a soil expert who can perform a test, or if a test has been performed in the past, you may be able to get the information from your municipality.

Can expansive soil be controlled?

In order to control expansive soil around your home’s foundation, you need to be able to control how much water it gets. That means you have to take measures to drain water away from your home. Simple measures that you can take include ensuring that your rain gutters are kept clean and that any trees you plant are a minimum of ten feet away from your home.

Another more labour-intensive method involves removing the soil immediately surrounding your home, mixing it with lime (or other anti-expansive materials) and then replacing it.

Of course, to best control expansion, you will likely want to use a combination of methods.

Protecting your home’s foundation

While the methods listed above will help to curb soil expansion, you will never be able to control it completely. For this reason, you should take additional methods to protect your foundation from expanding soil. One of the best ways to do this is to use a concrete or rubber apron that is set out three to five feet from your foundation. Or, if the soil is only minimally expansive, you may be able to use a moisture barrier alone.

To know which of these options is most appropriate for your home, it is recommended that you have your foundation inspected by a foundation repair professional such as Conterra Foundation.

If you think you have expansive soil – or if you know you do – you don’t want to delay in ensuring that your foundation is well-protected. Call Conterra Foundation today to schedule a consultation anywhere in the Hamilton or Burlington area.