Preventing Bowed Basement Walls in Clay Soil Environments
Predicting the behavior of soil can be difficult even when the characteristics of the soil are known. This makes builders’ and contractors’ work even more difficult. It would be nice if the movements and behavior of soil were predictable if not stable.
Even though soil behavior is difficult to predict, contractors rely on certain characteristics of soils to determine the level of expansion of the soil. This helps to guide them, especially in the construction of foundations.
The extent to which soil expands is determined by its clay content. Soils with high clay content expand and contract significantly. Homes constructed in clay soil environments are likely to have bowed basement walls if certain precautions are not taken.
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Protecting your foundation
You can prevent bowed basement walls even when your home is constructed in a clay environment by:
- Installing drainage systems
Soils expand as a result of absorbing water. When soils have high clay content, they expand significantly. This is because the tiny clay particles absorb a great volume of water and expand to many times their original size. This expansion results in pressure being exerted on the foundation’s walls. The walls bow inward and crack, leaving the home susceptible to water problems.
A great way to prevent this is by ensuring water is kept away from the foundation. This can be done by installing drainage systems. These may be installed on the inside or outside of the foundation wall. They direct water away from the foundation and help minimize water that may penetrate the foundation walls.
- Changing the grade of your landscape
You can’t prevent your soils from being exposed to water. In fact, water is good for the soil around your foundation. However, too much water can result in foundation problems.
The design of your landscape plays an important role in the amount of water the soil around your foundation is exposed to and how much it retains. If the landscape slopes toward the foundation, water will flow in that direction. This will result in water accumulating near the foundation and causing the soil to expand and exert pressure on the foundation walls.
Changing the grade of your landscape to ensure that it slopes away from the foundation will help to prevent the accumulation of water near the foundation. This leads to less expansion and ensures that your foundation is surrounded by more stable soil.