Foundation failure can be quite catastrophic if it happens to your house. When the foundation becomes weaker, you will start to see cracks in walls. Here are things you should know about the probable causes of foundation failures:
- Improper soil type: Some soil types are not appropriate for your foundation. As an example, expansive clay absorbs much water and it could swell significantly. The expansion could cause steady pressure on the foundation of the house. With the foundation is pushed upward, it will heave. The moisture level of clay is not constant and during the desiccation phase, the clay will contract. The regular expansion and contraction of clay soil will damage any foundation, because concrete doesn’t really bend.
- Fill material is poorly compacted: Fill material should be compacted sufficiently, so it can support the weight of the structure. Problem can also happen if the fill material has poor composition of materials. The fill material need to be compacted in layers, if not you will only compact the upper portion of the fill material.
- Slope failure or mass wasting: Mass waiting also means the downhill movement of the earth. When it happens slowly, it’s called creep and it’s called landslide, if it happens quickly. You can prevent the creeping movement by setting up underpinnings.
- Erosion: Erosion is a common soil settlement issue, due to uncontrolled water flow, lack of ground cover or poor drainage. If you identify it quickly, erosion will slowly remove soil around the foundation, which will weaken the foundation itself. Make sure that the soil is properly compacted and underpinnings are installed.
- Poor constructions: You should follow the local building codes, which including engineer certification and soil testing. If you do this properly, poor construction will less likely become a problem.
- Transpiration: Transpiration happens if nearby trees remove moisture from the soil during drier seasons. This will cause soil to shrink, potentially affecting the foundation.
It is important for you to quickly identify potential problems associated with the foundation of your house. You should accurately identify the type of soil that you have. If your home is located on a hill or slope, you need to make sure that it is stable. If soil around your house starts to erode, it won’t be too late to call a soil engineer or landscaper. If there are trees near your home, you may need to cut it down or relocate it, if these trees are not too big. Some tree species affect the soil more than the others. If you are shipping for a lot before constructing your house, make sure that the characteristics of the soil won’t cause foundation problems.
Watch how the builder works with the fill material and if possible, you shouldn’t buy a house lot that is located on a slope. Hillside location may look pretty and you think that it will increase the appeal. However, during rainy season, the soil could creep slowly. Learn about the soil movement in the area and if there are cases of landslides within ten years, it could be risky.