Any concrete structures you have in place around your property are only as strong as the soil itself. If your soil starts to suffer from erosion, you may notice your sidewalk, patio, pool deck, or other concrete structures starting to sink. This sinkage isn’t just visually unappealing. The longer you let it sit, the more likely it is that the sinkage you’re facing will evolve into some manner of significant damage. Your home as a whole may begin to take on leaks and moisture damage.
You have solutions available to you, however, that can help you get ahead of washed-out soil. Work with the contractors serving Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, and you’ll have the opportunity to repair the damage that’s been done to your home and prevent similar damage from appearing in the future.
Soil Erosion: Contributing Factors
As mentioned, your home can start to take on damage when the concrete supporting various structures starts to give way. Those structures often lose the support they need when the soil beneath starts to wash away or erode. Hollows of this sort can start to form beneath your concrete for a myriad of reasons. Some of the most common include:
Under most circumstances, tree roots lend to the structural integrity of the soil that they grow in. Many cities plant trees alongside drainage ditches and rivers to keep the banks of these waters in check.
The trees in your yard, however, don’t always serve this benevolent purpose. While no tree is going to work against the overall structural integrity of your home with deliberate malevolence, larger trees, hedges, and other plants can easily disrupt the overall integrity of your soil. Tree roots, as they search for nutrients to share with the tree at large, can cause hollows to appear beneath the concrete structures you have in place around your property. Your concrete can start to sink into these hollows if you choose not to shore up the eroding soil.
As parts of your concrete start to sink, the stress of the height difference between the concrete in the hollow and the concrete that’s still in its original position will cause cracks to appear in the overall structure. Not only will you have to deal with an uneven foundation, pool deck, or patio, but you may also find yourself dealing with infestations or leaks, both of which can make the stability problems your home is dealing with even worse.
During your tenure as a homeowner, you’re likely to find yourself contending with some manner of pest or animal infestation. There are several different types of animals and insects that may choose to make themselves at home around the perimeter of your house. Some may even burrow beneath your home or make their way inside. Some of the most common critters to try and invade your home can include but are not limited to:
- Carpenter ants
The majority of the creatures on this list like to burrow to make themselves comfortable. Rabbits and groundhogs, for example, can build extensive burrows beneath your home. The hollows that open up can quicken the erosion of soil in your area and make your home more vulnerable to concrete damage. This is even before your home starts to sink into abandoned burrows that the critters may leave behind.
The professional contractors serving Missouri cannot remove these critters from your home—that’s the job of a local exterminator. Once an exterminator removes the critters from your home, area contractors can help you repair any damage they’ve left behind.
Nobody’s perfect. Unfortunately, this includes the team that originally laid the foundation for your home. It can just as easily mean the team who installed your pool deck or patio, too. Not only is there a chance for these parties to make a mistake during the initial construction process, but they can also disrupt the overall stability of the soil beneath your home to the point where it may start to shift or otherwise erode long before its time.
Construction teams that cut concrete too early risk making the sides of your sidewalk or driveway brittle. Teams that don’t keep your concrete moist while it’s curing can cause it to become brittle internally as well, making it more vulnerable to the kind of damage that elemental forces can do to it.
Above all else, the teams that establish your foundation or any of the other concrete structures on your property loosen the soil around your home. This is known as the clay bowl effect and is essentially impossible to avoid if you want to establish your home’s foundation. As the soil beneath your property loosens, it becomes more difficult to keep in place. As it rains or snows, you may start to see your soil washing away, and your concrete sinking as a consequence.
Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, are all home to types of soils that respond unusually to high levels of rain and snowmelt. Most types of soil allow water to pass through them, absorbing only a little before the water moves on. Certain types of clays, however, do more than just absorb extra water. Rainfall and snow runoff can cause these soils to expand exponentially, to the point where they may start pressing up against your home. These same soils can respond just as poorly to high levels of heat around your property.
When your concrete starts to deal with this kind of pressure, it may crack and sink. You may even find yourself dealing with yard crawl, which is the process through which your yard appears to swallow your concrete as it expands.
Expanding soils, unfortunately, are also more prone to erosion than other types of soils. If you find yourself dealing with crawling soil one day, clearing it away may do more to destabilize your home’s concrete structures than it will to protect them. In these sorts of situations, it’s best to reach out to the professional contractors in your area to determine your best course of action.
Signs of Soil-Related Concrete Damage
The one good thing about soil-related concrete damage is that it tends to give itself away. Even if you don’t have any experience working with concrete-damaged homes, you can take a look around your yard and see if you can spot any of the following:
Visible Signs of Erosion
Soil erosion is highly visible once it’s had an opportunity to establish itself around your concrete. That said, you may not notice that something’s wrong if you’re out and about in your yard on a daily basis. If you suspect you’re dealing both with damage to the concrete around your home and some manner of soil erosion, turn a wary eye to your concrete.
Soil that’s started to erode from your concrete will leave visible gaps in its wake. You should be able to identify any gaps that appear between parts of your yard and your concrete structures. Similarly, large streaks of dirt flowing downhill or away from your concrete structures will indicate that the soil beneath those structures is too loose to adequately support them.
Cracks in The Concrete
If soil erosion has gotten to the point where it’s opening up hollows beneath your home, your concrete may start to crack. There are a few different types of cracks that can appear in your concrete. Superficial cracks on the surface of your home’s concrete structures don’t always seem like an immediate concern, especially if they’re small in size. The good news is that these smaller, surface-level cracks often indicate the potential for future damage instead of something that you need to immediately act against.
However, if these cracks start to widen, deepen, or travel, you may have a larger problem on your hands. You can invest in a superficial repour of the damaged concrete structure in question to limit these cracks’ growth. However, if it appears that the cracks are only growing, you may need to address a deeper problem that might otherwise compromise the structural integrity of the structure in question.
Note that it won’t always be possible for you to spot any cracks that have formed in your foundational concrete slab. Professionals will have a better chance to do this. If you suspect that something may be wrong with your foundation, do not look for cracks. Instead, look for the other signs of soil-based concrete damage: gaps between your home and the lawn or increased humidity throughout your basement or crawl space.
Cracks Near Your Home
As mentioned, you can’t always automatically spot the cracks in your foundation, even if you can trace that damage to soil erosion in your yard. However, you can keep a wary eye out for cracks near the perimeter of your home. Cracks that appear near the joints of your garage, patio, pool deck, or other foundation-adjacent structure can have originated in your foundation or otherwise worsened as a result of foundation sinkage.
You can also keep an eye out for cracks in your home’s accessories. Your chimney, for example, can start to show signs of wear and tear even if it’s your foundation that’s bearing the brunt of the damage. Similarly, you may notice the frames of your doors and windows falling out of alignment or even your garage starting to sink, all due to erosion around the perimeter of your home.
Standing or Pooling Water
Standing water is another sure sign of damage around the perimeter of your property. Water will rush into the gaps that eroded soil leaves behind, exposing your concrete or foundation to a force known as hydrostatic pressure. Even as the pressure works negatively against the structural integrity of your home, that excess water will build up to the point where puddles become a common fixture around the perimeter of your property.
More specifically, water that doesn’t disappear from the edge of your property may indicate that your concrete foundation, pool deck, or other attached structures have already absorbed more moisture than they feasibly should have. Concrete is unusually porous, considering its reputation, and tends to exacerbate its own existing damage if given the opportunity to come into contact with a consistent supply of water. With that in mind, if you’re seeing puddles around the perimeter of your home, reach out to an area expert as soon as possible to discuss what repairs may suit your property best.
Repairing Soil and Moisture Damage Around Your Concrete
If it’s your soil that’s causing stability problems for the concrete structures around your property, don’t worry. There are a few different solutions you can employ to restabilize your home. These include:
Stabilizing Your Concrete
When it’s an issue with the soil underneath your concrete that’s causing the bulk of your problems, then you can discuss soil stabilizers with your local professionals. The options an expert may suggest, in this case, will typically include stabilizing it with polyurethane injections.
You might hear someone recommend “mudjacking.” Mudjacking is the “traditional” method of concrete stabilization. However, while this is a traditional method of managing sinking concrete, it’s not one that most experts recommend anymore. Mudjacking can actually end up causing more problems than it fixes, especially over a long period of time.
Polyurethane foam injections, on the other hand, see the material inserted in the soil around your home as well as into any existing hollows. However, this foam will also force your damaged concrete back into place while making it more difficult for rain or snow to destabilize the soil in the immediate area. That means polyurethane foam injections are often a very effective solution for issues with your concrete. They’re quick and easy to install and they actually lift your concrete, which isn’t the case for mudjacking.
The erosion of soil throughout your yard is usually a process that takes thousands of years at a time, so why does it seem like soil is already pulling away from the perimeter of your home? The weather in your area may be contributing to some of your losses. However, there are other forces that can work against the integrity of your soil, including its mineral composition and the presence of other moving forces in your yard.
Moisture and Your Soil
Moisture is one of the forces that can have an immediate and noticeable impact on the quality of soil around the perimeter of your home. Heavy rain or snowmelt, for example, can drive loose soil away from the perimeter of your home while also exposing your concrete structures, foundation, basement, or crawl space to high levels of hydrostatic pressure.
That’s why one of the best ways to determine whether or not you’re dealing with soil damage and related sinkage is to look for streams of water and dirt leading away from your home. You can rely on these conditions to let you know whether it’s your soil that’s causing problems for your home’s structural integrity or if the water in play has more of an influence over your concrete than you might have initially thought.
Other Forces at Work in Your Yard
That said, there are other forces that can do indirect or long-term damage to the overall structural integrity of your soil. Tree roots and animals can create hollows beneath your home that your concrete can then sink into. Similarly, certain types of soils in Missouri may have a mineral composition that makes them more prone to expansion and concrete damage.
The soil around your home may also already be prone to damage if it’s fallen victim to the clay bowl effect. This effect sees the soil around your home grow loose in response to the work contractors had to do when initially laying concrete for your foundation. There’s no way to avoid triggering the clay bowl effect, but you can speak with area professionals to see if there aren’t ways to mitigate the damage this effect can have on your home.
Repairing the damage that’s been done to your home can be a rewarding process if you know what you’re doing. Trying to take on concrete sinkage without the appropriate experience, however, is often a recipe for disaster. Attempts to DIY a concrete repair solution can be costly in terms of materials and in terms of the repairs your home may need in the future, often making the endeavor more expensive than reaching out to the professionals in your area.
Concerns About Costs
To repair the concrete and soil around your home without professional help, you’ll need to find both the materials and tools you need to bring your concrete back up to its original height. If you don’t have any similar projects planned for the future, many of these tools may be of one-time use. You’ll need to think about those costs while also considering how expensive it might be to replace any tools you damage should you make a mistake while working.
Additionally, consider what kind of work you’re going to have to do to either replace or stabilize the soil around your home. This process usually requires you to inject a foreign substance into your yard, a job that’s effectively impossible without the right tools and experience. Even replacing your land’s soil on your own is going to be relatively expensive. Unlike someone working alone, professionals can bundle these costs together, mitigating tool purchases and benefiting from industry connections to limit the amount it will cost you to restore your home’s value.
The Dangers of Errors
If you do make an error while trying to fix your damaged concrete structures, these structures may become unusable much faster than they would have had you otherwise left them alone. The damage done to them, too, may impact the overall structural integrity of other concrete structures. For example, repairs you try to make to your pool deck may negatively impact the condition of the soil and concrete supporting your foundation.
If you work with professionals instead of taking on this work alone, you can avoid the mistakes that might otherwise damage your property and get back to living safely in your home that much sooner.
Repairing damaged concrete around your property can feel like a drag. After all, if you leave these sorts of problems be, won’t they fix themselves over time? The reality is that problems with your concrete rarely go away without help. If you choose not to work with area professionals, you not only expose yourself to opportunities for already-existing damage to worsen but for the value of your home to rapidly degrade.
Protecting Your Loved Ones
Family members with mobility issues or even a poor sense of balance can find themselves thrown by damaged concrete and soil. It’s not just your family’s physical health, however, that’s in danger if you let concrete damage go unchecked.
If you let the damage in question spread, mold can start to take root in your compromised concrete. All molds can cause respiratory problems for your family, regardless of whether or not your family has a history of them.
Preparing for the Future
Homes with damaged concrete slabs or structures are difficult for realtors to sell. For starters, you will have to note that there’s damaged concrete on your property when you go to list your home. As you do, note that you risk losing up to 30 percent of your home’s overall value, as future buyers will want to be compensated for any repair work they have to do on your behalf.
Furthermore, something like a damaged driveway, a sinking foundation, or a cracked pool deck can rapidly diminish your home’s overall appeal. This means you may have a more difficult time bringing people out to your property, not to mention netting a buyer who’s willing to take on those kinds of extensive repairs.
Connecting with Professional Contractors in Your Area
Don’t let soil erosion devalue or destabilize your home. If you think the concrete around your property has started to take on damage, reach out to the professional contractors serving greater Missouri. These experts can inspect your property with you and identify the parts of your home that need shoring up. After your inspection from a Foundation Recovery Systems expert is complete, you can look over a free services quote detailing what repairs your home might need as well as what protective measures may help you get ahead of any soil-related damage that might plague you in the future.