Almost all concrete problems come from soil issues. When the soil supporting concrete becomes damaged, the concrete will also experience damage. Dry soil is one of the most devastating soil issues because the soil shrinks and becomes weak simultaneously, especially the clay soil present in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, and Savannah. Read on to learn even more about how dry soil affects your concrete.
What Causes Dry Soil and How Does it Work?
Dry soil is brought on by dry and/or extremely hot conditions which cause moisture within the soil to evaporate. This particular issue can also arise during a drought, in which there is not enough moisture present within the soil to keep it densely packed together. Plus, tree roots can suck moisture out of the soil and cause the same problems as heat or drought. Unfortunately, dry soil leads to two different physical reactions to take place in the ground: a loss of volume and a brittle structure.
You can think of soil a lot like a beach towel – when it is filled up with water, it becomes heavy and dense because of all the moisture within it. However, if left out in the sun for too long, the towel can shrink in size, become dry, and almost seem stiff. The soil in your yard acts in much the same way, being strong when filled with water but weak when dried out by heat or a lack of moisture. Over time, the dry soil will have a ton of negative effects on the concrete structures located on your property
The Risks of Dry Soil and Drought
As we’ve said, dry soil leads to many problems for concrete. When the soil shrinks and becomes brittle, it can lead to unlevel concrete steps, cracked concrete, or an uneven driveway and sidewalk.
Unlevel Concrete Steps
Dry soil may cause any concrete steps located outside your home or on your property to become crooked and unlevel as they sink into the brittle ground. As settlement occurs, cracks may appear across the steps, or one portion may sink into the earth while the other rises up into the air. Whatever the cause of the deterioration, your concrete steps will become uneven and potentially dangerous to anyone visiting or living in your home. Furthermore, when concrete steps appear damaged and unlevel, it can lower the value of your home and make it less desirable on the real estate market.
Since dry soil causes the ground to shrink in size and become brittle, your heavy concrete is going to sink into the weak sections. Keep in mind, when soil shrinks, a gap forms between the concrete and soil. Gravity takes over and causes your concrete to fill the newly formed void. Since concrete is unable to bend easily, it simply cracks. Sometimes one large crack may occur in concrete, but it usually appears in many different sections depending on where the dry soil is taking place. Don’t ignore these cracks, no matter how small, as they can indicate a larger problem on the horizon – one that might affect your home’s foundation in the future.
Uneven Driveway and Sidewalk
We’ve all seen a neighbor’s driveway that looks crumbly, uneven, and outright dangerous to drive on. We’ve also seen plenty of sections of concrete where one block was sticking up higher than the other, potentially causing a biker or jogger to trip as they passed over it. This is all a result of dry soil. Just like how dry soil causes concrete to crack, the gaps that open up between the shrinking soil and the concrete may cause sections of your driveway or sidewalk to sink while others stay above the ground. Once again, these sunken sections of concrete can eventually lead to further cracking, turning your driveway and sidewalk into a major tripping hazard for yourself and others.
No, while it may appear that droughts only develop in hot, arid settings, this is not the case. Droughts are recognized when the dry period in any climate is unusually long. It is certainly possible for a drought to develop in the Southeastern region of the United States, especially in the summer when temperatures rise, and the sun beats down on the soil. It’s always best to stay prepared.
Trees require moisture to continue growing. Their roots can drain moisture from the soil beneath concrete structures, causing the soil to shrink and become brittle. This is especially bad for your concrete, as it will collapse into the weak soil and sink below the surface. Tree roots can be as long as, if not longer than, a tree’s entire canopy, therefore be cautious of any huge trees growing near concrete structures on your property.
Dry soil can be easily identified, especially in areas with clay-based soil like South Carolina and Georgia. You can easily identify it due to cracks running along the surface. The soil might also look shrunken in size and feel brittle to the touch. If you pinch the soil between your fingers and it doesn’t feel soft to the touch, it’s likely dry soil.
Call Mount Valley for a Free Inspection!
If you’re noticing cracked concrete appearing throughout your property, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced team at Mount Valley Foundation Services. We’ve proudly served residents in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, and Savannah for years. With our concrete lifting solutions and our expert knowledge, we’re happy to help you too. Contact us today to learn more about concrete lifting and schedule a free inspection. Someone from our team will be ready to inspect your home and figure out if dry soil is what’s causing issues for you. No matter the cause, we have the solution!