Soil washout, sometimes called erosion, is one of the most common reasons a property in Missouri might need concrete lifting services. This is because of the way washout soil can cause damage to concrete structures, driveways, and even a property’s foundation when it is left unchecked. Many homeowners are unaware of the causes and signs of soil washout. That is why many end up in need of repair services, especially after a hard winter season.
Soil washout is a symptom and a cause of issues on your property, but with vigilance and clever management, there is no reason a concrete lifting or repair should see recurring damage.
What Causes Soil Washout?
Soil washout is a specific and yet widespread issue that is made up of two main factors: soil type and climate. When the right pre-conditions are met, the soil in a certain area can wear away at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, a change in the topography of an area is not the only repercussion of soil erosion. The earth in an area blighted by washout can also become infertile.
Soil Type and Texture
The soils that are most prone to washout and erosion are lightweight, loose soils. Soils that are made up primarily of loam and sand, for example, are less stable than soils made up of clay or peat. They are also less expansive, meaning that they are less likely to simply absorb water that they come into contact with. As a result, they can be washed by strong currents of water or blow away in high winds when they are dehydrated.
Of course, there is also the matter of soil health and texture. Soil that is healthy and has plenty of fiber in it is far less susceptible to erosion. This is why deploying plants and flowers that form intricate and widespread root systems can help to prevent the erosion of lightweight and loose soils. Of course, even soil that is uniquely prone to erosion will not wear away until the right conditions are present.
Climate and Weather
While very weak soil can wash out or erode in relatively mild weather, most soil will require some form of extreme weather to see severe erosion in a short period of time. This is why the spring thaw is a prime time for soil washout. Likewise, gale force winds or rainstorms can wash away loose, weak soil in scarily large amounts.
Extreme dehydration and saturation are the states in which soil is prone to erosion. Taking moisture management precautions can help you to see less washout soil on your property. This is why foundation drainage systems are incredibly important.
In some extreme cases, interior leaks from your property can even add to or cause soil washout. Of course, this depends on the leak being incredibly prolonged or severe. A serious plumbing flood, for example, will be more likely to cause erosion than a short-term issue with your water heater. Nonetheless, soil washout usually occurs over a long period of time. Learning to recognize it quickly can make all the difference.
What Does Soil Washout Look Like?
Recognizing the problem signs of soil washout on your property could save you a huge amount of trouble down the line. Some of these signs are very subtle and others less so, but you are likely to see more than one crop up as the issue advances.
If you notice that tree roots in your garden are exposed where they never used to be, there is a chance that your yard could be experiencing soil washout. While it is certainly true that roots can break through the ground on their own (in fact, they sometimes invade sewage lines), this tends to be a slow process.
As such, if you’re seeing new roots poking through your yard all of a sudden, this is a sign that the soil around your property is eroding or being washed away. You should be especially concerned if the tips of roots start to show; these should never be exposed.
Trouble in Your Garden
Soil washout can cause a lot of damage to your garden’s ability to actually grow anything. This is troubling for many reasons. Firstly, because planting your yard strategically is one of the best ways to prevent erosion and, secondly because it is very hard to revitalize soil that is this damaged. If you notice bald spots appearing in your lawn or your plants are starting to wilt with no explanation, you should look for other signs of erosion.
Serious erosion and soil washout can start to expose your property’s foundation after a while. This is something you should not ignore. As well as being a sign of advanced soil washout, this can cause foundation problems to develop quickly, especially in the wettest months of the year. Issues like foundation subsidence, settlement, and flooding can quickly form in adverse conditions.
If you see issues like this, call a professional quickly. Foundation repair is easiest when you catch the problems early.
Sinking Exterior Steps
If interior stairs start to sink, it is likely that foundation damage is the main cause (though erosion could be a contributing factor). When exterior steps start to sink, however, soil washout could well be the main cause. You will recognize this, at first, as a gap between the steps and the ground, but it will quickly develop into steps that are cracking and sinking.
Sinking Driveway or Patio
If you have a concrete driveway or slab patio, you may also notice signs of erosion in their vicinity. This can show itself as the gradual appearance of gaps between the edges of the concrete and the earth, or as sudden dips and craters. This is generally caused by the creation of voids from beneath by excessive saturation.
So, as you can see, soil washout can present itself in many different ways. It is important that you, as a homeowner, learn to spot the signs and act quickly. If you don’t, you could face far more serious issues.
What Issues Are Connected with Soil Washout?
Soil washout and erosion are often connected to deeper issues within your home. This should come as no surprise, of course, because the health of your property is indelibly tied to the soil on which it rests. Soil erosion is intimately connected with many issues, including:
Settlement is a foundation problem that is most often connected with expansive soils, but in truth, it can occur on any kind of soil. All it requires is the formation of a void between the earth and a property’s foundation. If the soil under your property is loose and weak, a heavy storm or period of flooding could lead to soil washout under your home. This could then cause the formation of gaps that allow your foundation to crack and sink. This can cause many issues in a property from generally increased humidity to sagging floors and structural instability.
Subsidence is a foundation problem that is more often connected with weak, loose, or marshy soil and describes a process of uneven sinking. If the soil around your property erodes to the point that exposes parts of your foundation, it can very quickly escalate into subsidence. This is likely to cause huge damage to your property over time. After all, it is unlikely that the property will sink evenly and consistently.
If you have weak soil and poor foundation drainage options, you could see an increased rate of washout close to your home. This will eventually lead to the soil around your home sloping down toward your property. This will increase the amount of water pooling by your foundation and cause more damage. If you have a basement, this level of soil saturation could easily cause seepage or even bowing walls as the hydrostatic pressure that your property faces increases sharply.
These issues can lead to tertiary problems within your home. As you can see, it is incredibly important to deal with soil washout as soon as you notice it. If you don’t, you could end up with a much higher repair bill in the long run.
Soil washout, otherwise called erosion, is a process by which the soil becomes weak and loose before being blown or washed away entirely. This can cause issues for your land and property in a number of ways.
Soil washout can affect the health and stability of your home. The most obvious effects are, of course, the steady sinking and cracking of exterior surfaces like your patio and driveway. These exposed areas are the most likely to face issues as a result of continual soil washout, but they are not the only surfaces at risk if the issue is left unaddressed.
If soil erosion and washout are allowed to go on unfettered, you are likely to see damage to the structure of your home. This can start with foundation exposure and saturation, but can quickly progress to issues like bowing walls, settlement, subsidence, and general structural instability. As the soil under your home shifts, your foundation can start to move too, bringing a whole host of unique issues with it.
Soil washout and erosion are somewhat circular phenomena. Healthy soil is the least likely to be badly affected, but soil washout causes the quality of the soil in question to deteriorate. This in turn makes the erosion more dramatic and further depletes the soil, and so on. As a result, soil erosion becomes exponentially worse over time. This has an impact on your yard as well as your home.
Badly washed-out soil can become unable to support plant life of any kind, essentially becoming fallow. This can cause bald spots to appear in your lawn, or even cause trees on your property to die and, eventually, topple over. Once the soil reaches this stage in its deterioration, it will be a long, intensive, complex, and costly process to bring it back to full health. As such, it is far better to deal with soil washout quickly (especially if you are an avid gardener).
While all areas of your property can technically be affected by soil erosion and washout, there are areas that will be more prone to soil washout than others. Raised areas, for example, and areas that see frequent saturation are most at risk. Check these areas for signs of erosion regularly. Once you see signs of damage, you should act.
The Sooner, the Better
Some homeowners believe that issues with their soil and foundation must be severe before it is worthwhile to address them. This is not the case, of course, and it is especially not the case with soil erosion. Do not wait until the problem is impossible to ignore before you act. Doing so will cause more problems than it will solve. Like foundation problems, soil washout will not solve itself nor stabilize if left alone. It will instead get exponentially worse until it starts to impact every part of your property.
This will cause the formation of secondary and tertiary issues but also lead to more complex problems that require increased manpower and ever more specialist solutions to fix. For example, erosion by your foundation may cause saturation around your perimeter, which will then lead to seepage and cause high levels of humidity in your home. This could cause mold formation or even damage to wooden supports in your home—all because you waited to address soil washout.
Early Action Will Save You Money
Remember that it is far easier to manage issues when you address them early on. In the case of soil washout, this is incredibly important, because acting early can help you to nip other issues in the bud. For example, getting a professional to assess your property when you see signs of patio or driveway damage as a result of erosion could highlight the danger to your foundation.
So, if you notice you’re having issues with washout soil on your property, contact a concrete and foundation repair expert. A simple assessment could save you a lot of time, stress, and money in the long run. In fact, it could save you tens of thousands of dollars if you manage to nip a foundation problem in the bud. After all, what’s the harm if you book a free inspection and are told that there’s nothing to worry about? It’s far better to be safe than sorry.
There are certainly some things that you can do to manage the health of your soil and prevent washout as a homeowner. Once the damage has progressed beyond a certain point, however, it will be necessary to involve a professional who knows what they are doing.
Managing Soil Washout
If you have noticed that soil seems to be eroding at the most exposed areas of your property, there may still be time to prevent the issue from snowballing. As a homeowner, the main thing you can do to prevent soil erosion from getting worse is to take care of your yard. This may require a little research if you are not a gardener, but it can be incredibly helpful and very cost-efficient. In fact, learning how to care for your yard could even protect your home.
This can entail many different things, but the most common ways to increase the health of the soil around your property is to fertilize it and plant a mix of flora that will create a complex system of roots. This will bind the soil together and prevent it from blowing or washing away. It will also add texture to the topsoil, which will prevent erosion even in extreme weather. Doing this can also prevent perimeter saturation by increasing the soil’s capacity to absorb moisture. This will protect your foundation in the long run too.
Don’t Try DIY Concrete Lifting
Once erosion has progressed to the point of causing damage, however, it is time to involve a professional. There is really nothing you can do to safely lift sunken concrete as a non-professional. For a start, it is highly unlikely that you will have access to the tools and products that you need to lift and resurface damaged concrete. Furthermore, many of the concrete repair tools on the market require specialist training to ensure a good result.
If you try to use something like the PolyRenewal™ system alone, for example, you could end up causing more damage to the concrete than was already there. In fact, you could cause injury to yourself as well. This polyurethane foam is a two-part system that must be mixed in proper proportions to ensure that it expands with the correct force and sets properly. If you make a mistake, it could over- or under-expand. This will not only cause damage to your driveway or patio. It will also be incredibly hard to remove.
How Can Concrete Lifting Help?
There are various methods of concrete lifting that could help you to address the process and results of soil washout around your home. Mudjacking, for example, is most commonly used to lift and set sunken driveways and patios, while pier systems tend to be used inside.
Methods of concrete lifting like mudjacking and PolyRenewal™ foam can be useful in halting the further erosion of soil behind the repaired slab, but there are some drawbacks. Mudjacking in particular is not overly suitable for weak soil, because of the weight of the concrete slurry that is used to fill the void between the concrete and the earth. PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam, by contrast, is much lighter (and more water-resistant). Both need time to cure before the surface in question is usable. PolyRenewal™ sets far more quickly, however, and will reach 90% rigidity within an hour or two. This makes it vastly preferable for many.
The main benefit of concrete lifting services is to return the surface in question to its intended place and hold it there. Addressing the actual causes of soil washout often requires an entirely different solution. This can mean addressing the health of the soil on your property, the grading of your yard, or even your foundation drainage issues.
Furthermore, concrete lifting methods are only useful in a limited capacity. If your foundation is sinking, you will need a far more specialist solution. As such, we recommend that you first contact a professional to have the issue assessed and properly diagnosed.
The Foundation Recovery Systems Team Can Help
If you think that your property is being affected by soil washout, you have noticed sunken sections in your driveway, or you are starting to see sections of your foundation that were previously covered, it is time to call in the experts. Here at Foundation Recovery Systems, we know what it takes to lift, repair, and protect the concrete surfaces and structures on your property.
It all starts with a free inspection and repair quote. Our inspectors will attend to your property at a time that suits you and assess the damage. After that, we can provide you with a tailored solution and a written estimate. This will help you to make an informed choice about the best route for you and your property. This appointment comes with no obligation to book work with us, so call with confidence.