expansive soils foundation damage in los angeles

Your House May Have Been Built on Expansive Soils, and You Should Be Worried

Expansive soils which are sometimes referred to as clay soils, swelling soils or shrink-swell soils can create enough force to cause major damage to building foundations, slabs, patios, and sidewalks. Expansive soils contain minerals which absorb a lot of moisture. As the expansive soil soaks up water it expands, and The expanded soil then pushes against your foundation and creates cracks.

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Identifying Expansive Soils

The most distinctive feature of expansive soils is that they crack or fracture when it’s dry, even though the lack of cracks or fractures doesn’t necessarily mean that the soil is not expansive. Expansive soils are typically found in coastal areas or areas that were once under lakes or seas such as Los Angeles, but the best way to determine if the soil is expansive is to have an expansion test performed by a soil expert.

Related: How the California drought affects your foundation

Dealing With Expansive Soils

Since expanding and contracting is what causes damage to the foundation, controlling soil expansion is key to dealing with foundations that are built on expansive soils. There are a number of ways in which this can be done.

Concrete Aprons

One of the best ways of keeping water away from building foundations is to use a concrete apron, which is basically a waterproof layer of concrete and plastic around your foundation. The concrete apron is sloped so that water flows away from the foundation and does not pool on the concrete apron surface.

Rubber Aprons

Another way to build an apron around a foundation is to use a rubber or plastic and instead of adding concrete on top of it, gravel, rocks or some other loose material is added. Compared to the concrete apron, rubber or plastic aprons are visually appealing because they don’t develop ugly cracks such as those experienced by concrete.

Irrigation

Irrigation is used to maintain uniform soil moisture around the building foundation. Irrigation is used because if the soil moisture is uniform, the soil with neither expand nor shrink. It is not advisable to just use irrigation alone as a way of dealing with expansive soils, but to use it together with concrete aprons or moisture barriers.

Moisture Barrier

Moisture barriers are typically used to reduce expansion damage to driveways, sidewalks or patios which are usually built from concrete, asphalt or bricks. A moisture barrier blocks water from draining sideways under the adjacent hardscape.

Related: How to solve the foundation moisture problems during winter

Most often it’s too late and the foundation is already damaged by the time homeowners  realize that their foundation was built on expansive soils. Call California Foundation Works to get a free* foundation inspection before it’s too late.

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The Winter Effect on Your Property Foundation

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Los Angeles residential and commercial property owners may not recognize the adverse impact that the winter season has on the structural integrity of their foundation. A cracked foundation could result in leaking water, unevenness, large cracks on stairs or wall surfaces, and other structural problems. Foundations which are covered in soil and have ground cover may be less likely to experience heaving, but uncovered foundations which are exposed to air will not fair so well.

The shocking realization is that foundation damage happens before temperatures reach the freezing point. The homeowners inability to differentiate between cold and freezing could lead to more significant damage to the foundation. When the temperature falls under 40 degrees Fahrenheit for three sequential days, the possibility of damage is magnified.

Unfortunately, foundations in Los Angeles are exposed to colder weather conditions, much lower than previous years. Meteorologists predict that cold weather will continue despite warm air that is traveling from the Caribbean. This warmer weather is causing the ice caps to melt covering more of the earth causing the earth itself to absorb less heat and therefore to be more cold. The average climate will still be low enough to cause foundations in Los Angeles to crack.

Related: It’s rain season again

As a result of colder temperatures, ice will freeze beneath the surface causing frost heave. Frost heave takes place when the ice becomes restrained by underlying soil and eventually solidifies into the shape of a lens. These ice lenses are strong enough to crack pavements and damage the building’s foundation. The ground will ultimately heave because these sub-freezing temperatures are breaking into frost susceptible soil. With enough moisture, the soil will not be able to withstand the weather.

Related: Does Foundation Waterproofing Help ?

Despite the risk that cold weather creates, there is a way to lessen the risk of foundation damage caused by low temperatures. Residential and commercial property owners can protect their investment by installing a proper drainage system that will remove excess water from pooling around the foundation. These types of drainage systems will move the water away from the foundation and cause the heaving to occur away from the foundation and keep the ground in one piece. This helpful tip may prevent the need for future foundation repair.

Related: Preventing foundation damage during winter

It may be hard to prevent foundation problems before they start. Our expert team of foundation specialists at California Foundation Works can help Los Angeles residential and commercial property owners by performing a free*, no-obligation foundation repair estimate. Call us today!

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Latest Southern California Rains Might Jeopardize Your Home’s Foundation!

California Foundation Works Warns of Poor Drainage Problems Can Damage your Home Foundations!

If you live near Los Angeles, in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, then you’ve heard the warnings. People who live in canyons prone to mudslides have been told to evacuate, and those who choose to stay were asked to sign waivers releasing authorities from responsibility for their safety.

Southern California was hit today with the fourth — and perhaps worst — in a series of storms that have come in from the Pacific Ocean since last weekend. Up to 3 inches of rain may fall before it all ends. Since Sunday, the National Weather Service has already measured more than four inches of rain in several inland locations. There have been waves of 15 to 20 feet along the Pacific coast.

Related: 3 ways rain can damage your foundation

That is maybe good news for the Southern California overall as we knows we need the rain after several years of drought, but we are seeing more and more instances on home foundations damaged by water. Exposure to water accumulation and soil erosion can weaken foundations and cause problems.
Foundations are not a part of the home where damage makes itself immediately obvious to the average person so it makes sense to bring in experts.

Related: First steps in evaluating your home foundation

Some of the signs that you may be having a foundation problem are:

* Windows and doors that won’t open, close or lock properly
* Cracks in walls or ceilings
* Tilting or sloping floors
* Cracks through foundation walls
* Twisted or un-even outdoor siding

These are indicators that your home may need foundation repair or even replacement. Addressing these symptoms before the problems develop into safety hazards can save homeowners money and the difficulties of temporary relocation.

Related: Drainage Problems and Your Foundation

California Foundation Works offers inspection that is free* with no obligation to you, We are here to help you make sure, that your home is safe and there is no hidden danger that might jeopardize you or your loved ones. They can be contacted by phone at (323) 418-2239, or via their website, www.CaliforniaFoundationWorks.com.