Whether you’re buying a new or old home, the soil around it sets the trend for how your foundation progresses over time. In general, the most common soil types in the Midwest include:

Sandy Soil.

This type of soil handles moisture well and does not excessively expand or contract when wet. It manages to maintain a fairly consistent volume and density, which makes it ideal for foundations. However, it does shift when water runs through it, and can start to erode if water runs deep enough.

Clay Soil.

This type of soil absorbs water easily, which makes it expand and put more pressure up against a foundation. Once it dries out, it contracts and forms cracks, which can start to leave bigger gaps over time for water to easily enter.

Sandy Loam Soil.

Like sandy soil, this type does not vary greatly in size when water is introduced, which makes it a stable choice as well. It also can have issues with erosion if water penetrates the layer deeply.

Since the Midwest typically sees a mixture of all these soils, it’s important to know what layers are in the active zone around your home, which will dictate how it settles over time. An active zone is the soil immediately under and around your home, and the size of it can vary depending on the foundation. It’s important to watch that active zone and know when there could be changes happening due to extreme weather

When there’s a drought, for example, the soil around your home dries out and shrinks. Over time, it will start to settle into the cracks and lower the grade, which then shifts the entire zone. During times of flooding, the soil may expand or deal with shifting waters. The clay layers around the home will get soft and weaker, and the clay/sandy loam layers may shift if there’s poor drainage and the water ponds.

Due to this, builders will often bring in special loose soil to fill in areas around a new home and level out the site. It’s typically lighter and looser, so it can be compacted thoroughly to help give the foundation more stability. However, over time, the grade around your home naturally moves anyway, affecting the settlement of the foundation. This is why it’s so important to have your home’s foundation inspected on a regular basis.

If homeowners are dealing with sticking doors, cracks in the wall, uneven floors, or windows that don’t close/open, then it’s time to bring in the experts. Concrete & Foundation Solutions serves the Twin Cities metro, and we are well-versed in diagnosing and repairing foundation issues.