How Different Soil Types Might Affect Your Dallas Home’s Foundation
No matter how solidly your home’s foundation is built, the soil variations in the Dallas area may have a lasting impact on the health of your home’s foundation. When the soil is filled with too much sand or clay, foundation issues have a habit of cropping up.
Dallas: The Blackland Prairie
The Dallas region is part of Texas’s Blackland Prairie. Most of this region has relatively deep soil, which means the bedrock is far below the soil. In the western part of the Blackland Prairie, a chalk bedrock helps to support foundations. Throughout the rest of the region, that deep soil doesn’t provide any extra sturdiness to the foundations of Dallas homes. The soil in many areas of Dallas County slopes, which affects how the water runs through it and whether water will collect near your foundation.
In the Blackland Prairie, you’ll find different kinds of clay that mostly compose the soil. Clay has the ability to hold much water, which is why its consistency changes so drastically when it’s wet versus when it’s dry. Unfortunately, clay expands when it’s wet and shrinks when it’s dry, which makes it an unstable soil for home foundations.
When clay starts to crack on the surface, that means it’s extremely dry and is no longer supporting your foundation. In the worst case situation, your foundation will start to shift as it seeks out the support it lacks from the clay. Because Dallas summers are dry and hot, summer is the season during which you have to worry about the clay soil damaging your foundation the most.
Some parts of Dallas County have soil with more loam in it, which is great news for your foundation. Loam is a mixture of sand, clay, and silt, and these three combine to create a stable soil that doesn’t experience much expansion or shrinkage due to water levels. As long as you don’t end up with a layer of clay on top of your loam soil, it will support your foundation beautifully. Keep in mind, though, that in the Dallas area, most loam soil mixes with clay, which reduces some of its sturdiest properties.
In a few Dallas County areas, you’ll find sandy soil, though even in these areas it’s still mixed with some clay. When sand is packed tightly, it creates a sturdy foundation that drains water away from your house quite well. Unfortunately, too much water can disturb even tightly packed sand, washing key foundation support from beneath your home and causing foundation issues.
Some foundation issues show up through visible cracks in your foundations. Other times, the changes are subtler. Pay attention to whether your interior doors are sticking or refusing to latch. Look for cracks in the walls, and pay attention to how well your windows are opening. With so much clay in your soil, you have to keep an eye out for foundation issues, so you can call a professional before the problem gets out of hand.