How to stop soil from destroying your foundation

8:44 AM, Aug 10, 2020

How to stop soil from destroying your foundation

The mere sight of a hairline crack in your home’s foundation is enough to send a chill up your spine. After all, foundation work is notoriously difficult and costly.

Not only does the crack need to be fixed, but failure to fix it in a timely manner can lead to uneven floors, crooked door and window frames, insect or rodent infestations, plumbing damage, wood rot, and mold issues.

So, why do these cracks happen?

Local soil

One of the most common causes of foundation damage in Arizona comes from the soil your home sits on. Many parts of the state have clay-based soil that expands with moisture, and then shrinks as it dries. When the soil expands, it exerts enormous pressure on your foundation, causing it to bow upward or “heave.”

In fact, Arizona Foundation Solutions says in its foundation repair work, it sees at least 80% of homes with some form of foundation heave from expansive soils.

“The excavation for a foundation often gives the soil around and under a house a chance to dry out and shrink,” the company says. “After the house is built, clay-rich soil that gets soaked during wet spells can cause heaving problems, while also damaging foundation walls.”

This type of damage usually happens in the first few years after a home is built. Foundation heave damage is distinctive for its triangle cracking shape in the part of the floor being forced upward by the soil. And this is no minor problem.

“Each year in the U.S., expansive soils are responsible for more damage to homes than are floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined,” the Arizona Geological Survey says.

Because of the climate, Arizona homes are particularly at risk. You may not be able to change the soil your home was built on, but you can manage the issue to avoid foundation problems.

Moisture management

Moisture causes soil expansion, which means controlling the water that flows underneath your home is key to controlling the damage. Here are a few tips:

· Install gutter covers to prevent clogging.

· Add drainpipe extensions, so water drains away from your foundation.

· Avoid excessively watering plants near your house.

· Prevent pooling after rainstorms or watering.

Other contributors to moisture damage include big trees and plumbing. The root systems of trees in your yard may be larger than the spread of their limbs, meaning they could be under your foundation — and they suck up a lot of moisture, leaving surrounding soil dry.

“Tree roots may desiccate the soil beneath a home causing the soil to shrink and the home to settle,” Arizona Foundation Solutions says.

When it rains, that dry soil could overinflate.

As for plumbing, if it leaks beneath your foundation, that moisture leads to soil expansion over time. Additionally, when your foundation cracks, heaves, or settles, it puts more strain on the plumbing.

Stop damage before it starts

You can prevent damage with a MoistureLevel Smart Foundation System, which uses a vacuum and ventilation pipe to create air movement and suction on the soil under your foundation.

“Introducing outside air to the damp, expansive soils causes evaporation to take place, making it possible to reduce soil moisture and as a result, damaging soil expansion,” Arizona Foundation Solutions says.

While this system can be installed during construction, you can also have it added onto a finished home. For more information and to schedule a free foundation inspection, visit

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