While most homeowners are aware that a lack or excess of water in the soil around and under your home can be very dangerous for your foundation, few know how the part of extreme cold plays. While dehydrated soil sinks and saturated soil becomes unstable, frozen soil is a completely different animal. When the water in the soil under your home freezes and melts, it causes the soil to heave and contract in what is called the frost heave cycle.
Frost Heave and Your Foundation
While some level of heave is perfectly normal, just as a certain level of hydrostatic pressure is normal, dramatic frost heave can have serious repercussions for your property. Of course, different properties may be affected differently; heavier properties are less likely to be damaged by frost heave (though they are more likely to experience severe sinking).
Frost heave occurs because of the unique way the soil around and under your home reacts to cold. Of course, the soil at the very top freezes first. This locks it in place so that as the cold permeates the deeper levels and causes them to expand, they lift the top level as a shelf rather than displacing it. When spring comes or the ground thaws, the settlement can be uneven, which creates a whole other set of issues.
The frost heave cycle poses two very different risks to your home and foundation. First, when the soil heaves upward, it can cause your foundation to crack and bulge. Secondly, your foundation could sink into the soil when the ice lenses that cause frost heave begin to thaw in the spring. This will cause cracking and depressions in your foundation. Whichever happens, you can count on dampness come
Thankfully, frost heave doesn’t occur just because there is frost on the ground; it is most likely when the temperature falls below 40°F for three consecutive days or more.
Signs of Frost Heave
Unless your home is particularly large or heavy, the most common sign of issues with frost heave will be bulges and cracks in your basement floor. These mounds where the soil under your property’s foundation has pushed upward can be small and subtle or incredibly dramatic—it depends on your home. If you are unsure about whether your floor has begun to heave upward, you can perform the same simple tests used to show uneven floors.
What to Do If You Notice Issues with Frost Heave
If you suspect frost heave is causing damage to your home’s foundation, it is important that you call foundation repair specialists as soon as possible. Foundational issues will not fix themselves. In fact, they are almost guaranteed to get worse over time. As such, this really is the best time to get your foundation fixed.
Your first step is contacting St. Louis, MO, foundation repair experts at Foundation Recovery Systems for a free inspection and repair estimate. Our team is familiar with a number of the most up-to-date foundation repair solutions. We will do whatever it takes to make sure your home is safe once more. We can also help you to install drainage and moisture control solutions to ensure that the issue of frost heave does not recur in the future. If we are to give you the best possible solution for you, however, it is imperative that we assess your foundation and home properly.