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Clay Bowl Effect

The clay bowl effect is why water may be collecting around your home’s perimeter and exerting pressure on the foundation walls.

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Poorly compacted backfill may not pose problems in dry weather. But, when the sky opens up and the rain starts pouring, loosely compacted soil gets soggy quickly. The bulk of the water will pass through foundation cracks and end up in your basement. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the clay bowl effect so you can understand how it impacts your home.

clay bowl effect cgi

What Is the Clay Bowl Effect? 

The clay bowl effect happens as the result of the excavation of the ground on which the foundation stands. Often, when a foundation is built, contractors have to dig out a bigger area than the foundation. In turn, they have to put soil back into the excavated space around the home, making sure to compact it. Often, contractors do not do a good job of compacting the soil and the soil that’s been dug out and used to fill the holes around your completed foundation isn’t as dense or tightly packed as it should be. As a result, water will collect around your home. With time, it will exert pressure on your foundation walls, causing them to bow or crack. 

Because the backfill is loose and fluffy, it’s going to create a clay bowl effect all around your home, which will eventually form a water table. Some of the tell-tale signs of the clay bowl effect around your home include: 

  • Weeping foundation wall cracks 
  • Unusually high relative humidity in your basement 
  • Upsurge in radon gas levels 
  • Persistent mold problems 
  • Many dark patches on the floor and walls of the basement 

Is the Clay Bowl Effect Harmful? 

Any time the clay bowl effect happens in the backfill, you can expect water to leak into the basement and lead to mold growth, dampness, and mustiness. Water and melting snow are often the major culprits as they can easily saturate the backfill.  

Seeking a way out from the backfill, water will pass through concrete wall cracks, basement windows, floor-wall joint, porous concrete, and gaps around your pipes. Existing cracks will widen, and joints will weaken. Your foundation walls can also bow and collapse. That’s not to mention that radon gas levels may go up and enter the basement. 

Possible Solutions 

Some of the different ways to alleviate the clay bowl effect and its impact on your basement and foundation include: 

Wall anchors: Crafted from durable steel, wall anchors help stabilize your foundation walls and stop them from bowing further. We usually embed these systems into the soil several feet away from the foundation walls. 

Interior drainage system: It’s another viable solution for mitigating the clay bowl effect. The interior drainage system goes into the subfloor and covers the length of the foundation footer. Once in place, this system will collect water and channel it to the sump pump. 

Waterproofing the foundation: You can also ask your foundation contractor to come and waterproof the base of your home. Sealing stops groundwater from infiltrating your basement and damaging your belongings. 

While you can’t stop the clay bowl effect from happening, you can mitigate its effects on your foundation. Foundation Recovery Systems will work with you to ease the water pressure that’s threatening your walls from the outside. We use industry-approved solutions that guarantee the best results. To get started, contact us to schedule a free waterproofing inspection and get a free quote as well as recommendations to keep water out of your foundation.