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Shrink Swell Soil And Issues Surrounding Your Home

Shrink Swell Soil IssuesShrink swell soil is the movement caused by the amount of water in the soil. A lot of rain or a very dry season can change how your soil acts around your foundation. Soil shrinkage occurs when the water is removed from the ground. This can be caused by a drought, heat wave, or just an extended dry period.

As the moisture’s removed from the ground, it begins to shrink, pulling away from your foundation. This leaves room for movement and settlement, which can cause cracks in your home’s brick, concrete or block foundation.

On the opposite end is soil swell. When your area experiences a lot of rain, the soil will swell and expand. The soil surrounding your home will begin pushing against your foundation, creating bowed walls, basement wall cracks and waterproofing problems.

Soil Type Matters – Learn The Different Types of Soils

Shrink Swell Soil

Clay Soil

Clay is the most problematic soil when it comes to shrink-swell as it’s an expansive soil. In other words, any time there’s a lot of rain, the clay soil will swell. When the soil begins to dry, it will shrink.

Shrink Swell Soil


Select fill or loam is a sandy loam that’s very resistant to moisture changes. This type of soil can be prone to erosion, which can change how well the soil can support your home.

Shrink Swell Soil


Rock doesn’t typically react to moisture unless it’s in a low-density shale.

Shrink Swell Soil


Sand doesn’t shrink-swell, but it is prone to erosion. If proper drainage isn’t in place, then sand will erode and settlement will occur.

Shrink Swell Soil


Shale is a flaky rock that is made up of clay, quartz and other minerals that were compacted together over time. Depending on the amount of clay in the rock, shale can experience shrink-swell.

How to Protect Your Foundation

One of the easiest ways to protect your foundation from shrink swell soil is to make sure that your drainage system is in good working order.

  • Clear your gutters.
  • Point the downspouts away from your home.
  • Extend downspouts – if possible – at least 5 feet away from your home.
  • If you don’t have gutters, grade the soil surrounding your home so that it directs water away from your foundation.

You can find more ways to protect your foundation in the Fall Foundation Checklist.

The Experts at JES can Help!

If you’re not sure of the source of your foundation problem, give us a call at 757-301-4820, and schedule a free inspection. We’ll find out the cause of the problem and help you find the perfect solution.

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