Does Clay Soil Affect Your Foundation?

Does Clay Soil Affect Your Foundation?

May 25, 2022

You have probably heard several times that clay soil can affect your building’s foundation. If you wonder whether this claim is valid, you should know that it is true because clay soil and foundations can have weird interactions with certain construction materials.

Why Is Clay a Problem for Your Building’s Foundation? 

Clay soils usually expand or swell when they when subjected to water. The clay soil under your foundation can come in contact with water due to heavy rains or poor drainage. The swelling of this absorptive clay can damage your structure’s foundation by causing foundation settlement, cracks, or heave and shift. This is because overly wet clay with a near-mud consistency will no longer have the ability to hold the weight of your building and its foundation. 

Moreover, expansive clay can exert an uplifting pressure of almost 5000 pounds per square foot on the foundation. It’s almost impossible for your foundation to be subjected to such high pressure and remain intact. On the other hand, during summer, the damp clay soil will lose water and begin shrinking and cracking, creating gaps below and around your foundation. 

Signs of Damp Clay Soils

Here are some signs you might see if your structure or foundation is experiencing problems associated with damp expansive clay soils.

  • Soil usually pulls back from your building’s foundation during summer
  • Bouncing or sagging floors
  • Cracks on the basement or foundation walls
  • Doors and windows that rub the floor or stick to their frames
  • Doors that self-open or close
  • Gaps around your door, commonly on the top and sides
  • Brick veneer cracks

Since these signs can also be caused by other issues with your building, not just the expansive foundation soil, it’s best that you call a foundation repair contractor to evaluate your structure and its foundation to confirm your suspicions. 

Ways to Mitigate Damp Clay Issues on Your Foundation

Changing water levels is what causes the adverse effects of expansive clay soil on the foundation. Therefore, maintaining a consistent water level in the damp clay is the best way to mitigate its adverse effects on the foundation. You can manage the water level in the foundation soil by:

  • Controlling the watering of plants around the foundation
  • Installing gutters and downspouts to move the rainwater away from your building’s perimeter
  • Setting your AC’s condensate line to discharge away from the foundation
  • Planting trees more than 10 feet away from your structure’s foundation
  • Regrading a positive slope around your foundation so water drains off more quickly
  • Installing a waterproof internal drainage system and repairing leaks as soon as they occur

What Is the Best Foundation for Expansive Clay Soil? 

The best foundation for expansive clay soil is a strong foundation that can withstand intermittent pressure that will be exerted on it. Additionally, ensure you install foundation landscaping to stabilize the movement the foundation will experience when the clay soil swells. 

Are You Seeking Civil and Structural Engineering Services in Hudson, Colorado? 

Come to us at High Plains Engineering and Consulting. We are a top-notch civil and structural engineering company that serves Hudson and the surrounding areas. We provide unmatched structural, geothermal, civil, and environmental engineering solutions for commercial, agricultural, and residential properties. We also offer services for house plans, garage plans, floor framing, site plans, and inspection. Call for an appointment.

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