DALLAS--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--In spite of the recent rain, Texas is in the midst of one of the worst drought cycles in modern times – a cycle that some experts predict could last through 2020. Even as spring showers begin to pour, rain is potentially as destructive to the already fragile Texas soils as the drought, says Perma-Pier Foundation Repair of Texas. The vertisol clay soil which runs through the regions of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Austin, San Antonio and Houston is notorious for expanding when wet and contracting when dried. This process forms cracks in the soils that make building on them problematic – an issue that Perma-Pier knows all too well.
“Expansive Texas clay soil shrinks when it dries out and swells up when water is absorbed”
“Expansive Texas clay soil shrinks when it dries out and swells up when water is absorbed,” said Harold Prather, an engineer contracted with Perma-Pier. “When soil dries and cracks, it causes foundations to shift downward. But when water is added, like what is happening in the current wet cycle, expansive clays act like sponges and swell, pushing up on a home’s foundation with thousands of pounds of pressure per square foot. And when the soils swell, it tends to lift the edges of homes, which is what is causing the cracking on the walls and floors that many in this region are seeing.”
According to Prather, different soils have differing potential to shrink and swell. And the more expansive the soil, the more the foundation may by subject to movement. This is one of the reasons Perma-Pier offers a site soil survey to pinpoint what soil type the foundation is on and how it can affect the stability of a home.
James Schmidt, chief geologist at Perma-Pier, says the wet-dry cycle is the cause of many foundation problems throughout Texas’ diverse “expansive soil alley” since it produces a constantly changing soil bed. “It is widely believed that the current drought cycle has sapped the soil of moisture faster than the last big drought in the 1950s,” said Schmidt. “And now in our current wet season, the rain we are getting is in fact more volatile for soil since it has been under drought conditions for so long. It’s important for homeowners to understand that just because it is now raining, it doesn’t mean the drought it over – or that foundation issues won’t continue to be a problem.”
As experts on Texas soils and what this means for foundations, Perma-Pier’s team is trained to look for warning signs and also where such issues might arise in a house. “The expansion and contraction of the soil over time weakens the foundation and causes it to settle and crack,” added Prather. “The ‘heave’ and consolidation of the clay soils involve significant volumetric change which in turn, causes billions of dollars of property damage annually throughout the United States. Foundation problems only get worse if left unattended, and Texas is one of the worst states in the country for foundation-damaging expansive clay soils. Proper foundation maintenance and repair is really one of the best possible ways to protect the value of your home.” To view B-Roll footage, go to http://www.mbapr.com/clients/permapier/PermaPier_B-Roll.mov.
Founded in 1992, Perma-Pier Foundation Repair of Texas offers more than 100 years of combined experience in providing structural foundation repair, soil stabilization and drainage solutions for homeowners, real estate brokers, investors and business owners alike. The company’s foundation evaluators complete intensive training and specialize in Texas Prairie Land Soils. Perma-Pier's geological approach gives a technical advantage toward solving foundation problems. Visit www.permapier.com for more information.