5 Major Risks To Your Home’s Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri
Settled underneath your home’s basement is the foundation, a hard slab of concrete or other materials that provides a safe, stable surface upon which the rest of the home can be built. Houses are heavy by design, and any little fluctuation in the surface upon which they’re constructed can easily cause twisting in the structure, necessitating highly expensive repairs. As such, you can imagine that any damage to the foundation will reverberate up through the rest of the structure, causing serious issues that must be quickly rectified lest they spread.
You may be familiar with the warning signs of foundation damage, but what actually causes this, particularly in Kansas City? Today, we’ll take a look at five of the most common reasons that foundations in this area of Missouri fail, so that you can better appreciate the hard work that goes into making your home safe and sound again.
Expansive clay sinks and swells with the water table
The land around Kansas City is predominated by Menfro soil; it’s so important that it was designated the Missouri State Soil in 2004, and it has been presented in the Smithsonian museum along with soils from other states.
Menfro soil starts out silty at top because of more recent deposits from local rivers, then transitions to organic materials and finally to clay; this is perfect for agriculture. As it’s so dense, Menfro soil holds onto water at the subsoil level, below where farmers plow, and allows a stable matrix for deep plant roots.
What makes it heaven for plants is actually hellish for homes, because this clay-heavy soil swells and contracts as the water table rises or drops. This pushes and pulls against the concrete of a house’s foundation, which leads to cracks over time.
Tree roots dig their way into the concrete
Previously, we mentioned that the dense, water-laden matrix of clay in Menfro soil is very appetizing to plants, but this poses another problem for Kansas City homes: tree roots.
We all love a shady tree, and deep-rooted plants are incredibly important in preventing the erosion of precious Menfro soil, but they spell trouble for a building’s foundation. Through slow and steady growth, tree roots can start to push aside concrete in their quest to reach the best nutrients, causing the foundation to crack and buckle. This is why, tempting as it might be to have a shade tree by the front porch, you should avoid planting trees right next to the house.
Poor drainage leads to water damage
Another problem with Menfro soil, at least for houses, is that tendency to hold onto water at the level where a foundation is laid. Soils mostly composed of clay don’t release moisture as well as ones more predominated by silt or sand, which are much looser and easily allow water egress. As such, clay easily becomes waterlogged and will let the excess moisture penetrate the foundation above it, which softens the concrete as it continues to sit in the water.
If the water penetrates the concrete, it will also expand and contract with the fluctuating temperatures throughout the year. As concrete isn’t a flexible material for obvious reasons, it will develop cracks, just like streets get potholes because of thawing ice.
Temperature fluctuations cause roller coaster contractions in building materials
Even if the soil is draining properly and it’s not pulling on the foundation, the materials themselves will shift slightly with the changing seasons. Every material, including concrete, has a thermal coefficient of expansion (TCE), meaning how much the molecules inside it spread away from each other as the temperature rises. In fact, concrete has a higher TCE than water, meaning that it expands and contracts more.
Good builders take this into account when laying the foundation, but unfortunately, not every company is great. If your home’s original builders did not properly calculate the material’s TCE, you may find it pushing against other materials and buckling, necessitating an assessment by a good Kansas City foundation repair contractor.
Earthquakes, though minor, can be an issue too
Kansas City’s last major earthquake was in 2016: a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that actually originated in Oklahoma. Even this one wasn’t of major concern to the majority of people, as the Midwest doesn’t have large enough fault lines to cause buildings to come crashing down. However, even minor rumbles can damage your home’s foundation, especially if it has already been compromised by the issues listed up above.
The slight shifting of the earth under your foundation gently twists and pushes at the concrete; over time, this can lead to stress fractures, which need to be rectified immediately in order to protect your home.
After any major event near your home – a flood, an earthquake, or even just an unseasonably dry stretch – you should watch carefully for any signs of foundation damage and have the issue assessed by a good foundation repair company. Sooner is better when it comes to home repairs: get it checked out as soon as possible, or you’ll find yourself paying even more to get more extensive damage fixed.