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Expansive Soil — 7 Things You Need to Know to Protect Your Investment

Although expansive soil is the most predominant cause of soil-related distress, it is not the only cause.

Expansive clay soil is the most predominant geologic hazard across the United States. Each year billions of dollars in damage to building foundations and structures is caused by the shrinking and swelling behavior caused by clay soil. The building distress can manifest in something as easy to address as popped up sidewalk trip hazards, or sticking doors and windows, and can be as major as cracked walls and roofs, and structures that need to be repaired for safety.

  1. Most highly expansive clays form in residual soil environments spanning from Colorado to Florida, although some are present in the glacial deposits of the interior upper Midwest, and in the marine/lacustrine/paralic deposits of the West Coast, Gulf Coast, Atlantic coast and Great Lakes. Most highly expansive clays form in residual soil environments spanning from Colorado to Florida (see map).

  2. In order to cause shrink and swell, the soils must be exposed to changes in moisture condition following construction. For existing structures, moisture control may be a suitable option for remediation and it is a design requirement for new construction.

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