3 Primary Ways Your Land Can Affect Your Foundation

With factors like vegetation, water, and expansive soils, there’s a long list of ways that the elements can influence the integrity of your property. No matter how strong they are on the onset, property foundations in Texas are subject to all kinds of pitfalls when influenced by external factors.

At Perma Pier, we provide precise foundation repairs for a wide range of issues – for both residential and commercial properties. We wanted to take some time to give our visitors some helpful information they may not have realized, specifically as it relates to the ways land affects their foundation.

Stick around to learn more.

1. Expansive Texas Soils

We’ll start with a land element that can impact just about every foundation in Texas, without the right prevention measures: expansive soils. Expansive soils are “expansive” in that minerals like smectite clays may absorb water and therefore cause the soil to increase in volume. A change in volume = pressure or force being put upon a structure’s foundation, potentially causing damage.

Common types of damages made to properties by expansive soils include:

  • Floor cracking
  • Basement wall damages
  • Cracked foundations
  • Foundation movement

Even some upper sections of a home or business may be compromised over time by swelling soils. Additionally, once dry, these soils wither – potentially creating fissures that allow unwanted water to increase the risk of damage. In other words, without a consistent source of moisture or other solution, the soil will continue to go through a cycle of swelling and shrinking.

Ways to Prevent Damage From Expansive Soils

Thankfully, there are ways to protect your property’s foundation from expansive soil damage. Some measures include:

  • Adding organic matter: adding compost and other organic materials can help retain moisture that would otherwise result in the unwanted swelling and shrinking of soil clays.
  • Installing proper drainage: a good drainage system will keep water deposits away from your foundation.
  • Developing helpful maintenance habits: some ways to prevent expansive soil damage are simply a matter of practicing the right techniques – lightly watering soil during dry summer months, for example, and drip-irrigation systems for watering plants.

2. Tree Roots and Vegetation

Speaking of plants, trees and decorative plants are great for bringing beauty, shade, and life to a property. Unfortunately, if trees are planted too close to your home—like less than 10 or even 20 feet—there’s a serious risk for foundation damage. More aggressive tree roots, when planted close to a home, can cause problems like foundation cracks and soil expansion.

Some trees you’ll want to plant further than 20 feet away from your home include:

  • Silver Maple
  • Willows
  • Norway Maple
  • Poplars
  • American Elm

It’s okay, however, to plant smaller, less aggressive trees within 20 feet of your home – such as Japanese maples and crabapples.

3. Water  

Water is one of the main sources of life, but it’s also among the most harmful elements to material degradation and foundation integrity. Few things can destroy your home with less mercy than drainage or flooding.

How Water Impacts Your Foundation

First, there’s the pressure that comes from groundwater. If your home is on a lot where natural groundwater flows near the surface of the land, it can push up against the bottom of your foundation. This is known as hydrostatic pressure and could lead to widened cracks and compromised joints.

Another way water can affect your property: warped walls. A shifted foundation can lead to warped walls, which can lead to a long list of other issues. Ever been to an old home in which the doors just don’t shut right (or stuck when closed)? It could very well be that the walls have warped over time for this very reason.

One way to combat moisture-related foundation issues: root barrier. Root barrier helps prevent losses of moisture in the soil – therefore keeping it from the swell-to-shrink, foundation damaging cycle as previously mentioned.

Foundation Repair Solutions from Perma Pier

Concerned about your property’s foundation? We offer an extensive list of foundation repair solutions for both residential and commercial properties. Thanks to decades of experience and second-to-none engineering assistance, we’re proud to offer a wide range of services from slab repairs to pier and beam repairs and even drainage solutions. 

Learn more about what makes your foundation tick by checking out some of our educational resources, or connect with us today to schedule a no-charge evaluation.

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