Regional Foundation Issues in NC & SC
Your home’s foundation has a close relationship with the surface on which it sits. Over time, external factors can harm that foundation, compromising the integrity and safety of your home. Thankfully, we at Carolina Foundation Solutions are intimately familiar with each of these Carolina-specific problems and can help you keep your home’s foundation stable and secure.
What Contributes to North & South Carolina Foundation Problems?
All the natural beauty we celebrate here in the Carolinas comes at a price. The gorgeous Atlantic Ocean at such a close range can surprisingly bring dryness thanks to the mild winters. The proximity to our more southern friends puts us in the hurricane belt, bringing excess moisture with tropical storms. South Carolina’s extreme heat can cause foundations to crack and swell, while North Carolina’s magnificent mountain ranges are accompanied by unpredictable hills and slopes. And our frequent transitions between dry and wet environments can cause underlying soil to expand and contract, and foundations to settle.
Hills & Slopes
The downsides accompanying our enviable mountain ranges are a small price to pay. If your home sits on a hillside, keep an eye out for the following:
Slope Erosion & Rock Slopes
Rain can cause soil to slide down the hill, ultimately exposing your home’s foundation. If left untended, this can leave your home with no support. More mildly, slope erosion can cause your concrete foundation to shift or crack, leading to unwanted moisture and instability. Rocky slopes can still represent dangers to your home’s foundation, as the terrain may not be as solid as it appears.
Moisture & Drainage
Many of the soils in the Carolinas characteristically change depending on how wet or dry they are. Too much water contact can cause some soils to expand or contract (more on that in the next section), placing undue strain on your foundation. In extreme situations, too much moisture in topsoil can cause landslides. Proper drainage is especially important for hilltop homes, as it prevents further instability.
Soils & Climate
Here in the Carolinas, we have many beautiful kinds of soil. In fact, there are likely multiple different layered soils supporting your home. The most important layer for your home’s stability is whichever one is directly underneath the foundation of your home. This soil layer works with your foundation to hold your home steadily in place. Problems can arise when that layer experiences something we call “foundation settlement.” This is when the soil shifts so much that it can no longer support your home’s weight. Some factors that contribute to foundation settlement include:
Dry, Shrinking Soil
When soil is too dry, it shrinks (like your favorite cashmere sweater that made its way in the dryer). Soil becomes dry during droughts, but can also become too dry by neighboring mature trees that absorb the soil’s moisture.
Wet, Soft Soil
Our natural water contributors like heavy rains, floods, and tropical storms can be primary culprits of wetting soil, but they’re not alone. Poor drainage and broken water lines can also cause soil to absorb excess moisture. When the soil supporting your home becomes too wet, it can expand and swell to make room, and also soften, causing your home’s foundation to shift.
What to Do About Foundation Issues in North & South Carolina
The best thing you can do to keep your home and loved ones safe is to regularly watch for warning signs and contact a professional if you’re ever unsure.