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What Are Expansive Soils?

Expansive soils are soils that expand when water is added, and will shrink when they dry out. Expansive soils are really another name for "clay" soils. The continuous change in volume of the soils can cause significant damage to a home or other building, in addition to harming flatwork, pools, pipes, roads, etc. The primary geographic areas that are affected by expansive soils are in the western United Stated, most nobably California, Arizona, and Arizona.

Geologists or Soils engineers can perform labratory tests to determine a soils expansivity. Soils can be classified from "highly" expansive, to non expansive. Non expansive soils are also known as sand. Sand does not expand when water is introduced.

Landscaping can often determine how expansive soils will perform. Developers (and frequently new home buyers) want their projects to look lush and green. The introduce much more water than is really necessary, which can lead to expansive soil movement. Particular care should be taken with respect to landscaping near the foundations of a home. Low water or hardscaping should be located directly adjacent to a home with highly expansive soils. Additionally, surface water should flow toward area drains, and should never pond or flow toward a structure.

If the building is not properly engineered to deal with expansive soils, the remedy to this problem can be expensive and intrusive. If your structure is located on expansive soil, make sure you keep water away from the structure, and regularly inspect the structure for cracks, or signs of movment. Since these problems are often difficult and expensive to repair, it is important to obtain an evaluation from an engineer or geologist independent from the building developer. We can assist you in locating an engineer or geologist that is not tied into the builder or developer.

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