Dangers of Wet Clay Soil

What To Do if You Have Wet Clay Soil Under Your Home

Clay soils are rich in minerals and have a negative charge which can help bond water molecules. These properties enable clay to absorb water and expand in volume.

However, even if clay soil can hold water, only half is available for plants and crops. If it serves as your home’s foundation, clay soil also loses the ability to hold itself together when it gets wet. If you step on wet clay soil, it would feel as if your feet are atop a soggy lawn where you will eventually sink into the ground beneath.

The Dangers of Wet Clay Soil

Clay soil will repeatedly expand and contract due to water content changes. It is also more reactive than other soil types, especially in wet-dry cycles. This is because it contains large amounts of minerals. Thus, if you have clay soil beneath your house, you could get exposed to the following dangers.

1. Your house could sink if the clay soil gets soaked in water

A Colorado Springs water damage restoration specialist reveals that retaining too much water can make soil become extremely soft. This makes the soil too weak to support your home, causing it to sink into the ground and settle unevenly.

2. Your house could move if you have wet clay soil for your foundation

Clay soil can get wet from poor gutter systems, flooding, and heavy rains. When this happens, the soil will expand and move upwards. This upward movement could lift the entire foundation or a portion of it, eventually resulting in uneven floors.

3. A sinkhole could form from a clay soil foundation

Sinkholes are common in areas rich in clay soil and soluble rocks like limestone, salt, and/or carbonate. These materials can disintegrate and get washed away by groundwater as it flows through the clay soil. The clay soil can shrink and disintegrate if left unaddressed, especially in dry conditions. This can lead to the formation of underground voids and gaps. Any other material found above the soil will eventually settle into the void.

Dangers of Wet Clay Soil

How To Reduce the Risks of Wet Clay Soil

Moisture is a major cause of foundation problems in many homes. If removing the clay soil from your foundation is not possible, here are several ways of reducing its impact on your home:

1. Install Gutters

Gutter systems can be installed to move water away from your home’s perimeter. Although gutters may seem more useful to your roof than your foundation, this will depend on the design. A gutter can effectively drain rainwater from the foundation soil if installed correctly.

2. Build a Retaining Wall

A retaining wall is among the best options for resolving clay soil foundation problems. Since they can distinguish different elevations, retaining walls can effectively keep soil from sliding down a sloped terrain and divert water away from the foundation.

3. Do Landscaping

Planting shrubs and flowers around the home is a cost-effective way of protecting clay soil. With various plants on its top layers, clay soil gets ample protection from the dangers of wind, rain, and erosion. The plant roots can also strengthen the soil and provide support below the ground.

4. Install a Push-Pier

Clay soil should be allowed to swell uniformly to reduce the unevenness of your home’s foundation. This can be achieved using a push or drilled pier, a high-strength steel tubing driven through unstable soil and straight into the ground below. The basic principle here is that a deeper drilled hole is necessary when there is too much soil moisture.

5. Consider Drip Irrigation

This plant watering technique reduces the water absorbed by the soil. It can also be applied to sprinkler systems where timers prevent the lawn from becoming too wet.

6. Control AC Condensation

Clay soil can become damp because of condensation from an air conditioner unit. Ensure that your unit’s condensation line drains away from the soil foundation to prevent this.

7. Do Slope Grading

Terrain grading allows gravity to work with you to draw water away. This method involves sloping the ground away from the foundation by at least one foot.

Key Takeaway

Clay soil can cause damage to your home or property, especially if it gets wet. When this is the case, your house could move in one direction. In a worst-case scenario, it could even sink into the ground.

These dangers can be avoided by taking steps to reduce — or even eliminate — the risks involved when you have a clay soil foundation. One way is to have the terrain graded, so water moves away from your house’s foundation. Roof gutters can also be installed, so rainwater falls away from the house and not directly down your clay soil. This will prevent the soil from becoming too wet or even soggy. Hopefully, following these tips can help you avoid water damage even with clay soil as your home foundation.

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