soils-1Homeowners know that expansive clay soil in Missouri causes problems. Because of this, foundation repair is often needed. This is particularly true in areas such as the Kansas City metro area. While some soil contracts, other kinds of soils become it expansive when moisture is applied. Expansive soils generally lead to the need for foundation repair.

About Missouri expansive clay soils

Whether you are in Lee’s Summit, Olathe, overland Park, Kansas City or elsewhere, The three types of soils are 1) Sandy soils 2) Clay soils and 3) loamy soils. Light soils are generally the sandy soils and have large particles that allow for water to drain it easily. Shrink-swell soils, or clay soils, are very expensive and also common. These are the types of soils that engineers and contractors commonly work with while preparing foundations.

Heavy soils are made from clay and consist of small pack particles. These are dents and can be difficult to work with because they have a tendency to become hard and dry. In addition, they can sometimes cause fissures. This heavy soil is absorbent and takes on all lot of volume when wet. Loamy soils are considered to be a mix of clay soils and Sandy soils. The soils are built on multiple size particles, are good for retaining moisture and also for drainage.

Foundation repair problems caused by soil

soils-2The main cause of foundation problems is Soil. Expansive soil is made up of smectite clays that absorb water. As these clays take on water they begin to swell and put tremendous pressure on the vertical face of a foundation. This pressure causes lateral movement and sometimes foundation cracks. Also, expansive clay tends to contract when it becomes dry.

The American Society of Civil Engineers have stated that almost 25% of all homes in the United States have some foundation damage as results of the soils. Intact, foundation damage has caused more financial loss to homeowners than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined. The soils cause large gaps and foundations and the total repairs are estimated to be nearly $2 billion annually.

Types of repair in Missouri

There are several techniques used by foundation repair contractors to fix structures damaged by expansive soil. The methods include pressed concrete foundation piers and steel foundation piers. Both of these methods. Foundation damage, But concrete piers are used more often because they are more economical.

Any type of building constructed on clay soils is expected to have some type of foundation damage. This is even more likely and single-family homes because the framework is smaller than apartment buildings for office complexes.

soils-4The sheer weight of heavy buildings actually helps to minimize the amount of soil that swells in the expanse of clay. Soil engineers perform tests on the soil to determine it’s flexibility. Clay with the plasticity index of more than 50 is considered to be very expansive. Because hi plasticity Clay soils are known to fluctuate by 75% of their original volume, they can cause serious damage to your foundation.

Why do clay soils in Missouri expand and contract?

soils-3This happens because the types of soils belonging to a group of minerals called silicates. The main elements in the clay soil or aluminum, silicone and oxygen. They also will contain minerals such as sodium, calcium, magnesium and more.

Another reason why the clay soils in the Kansas City metro area frequently fluctuate is because of their specific mineral content. Much of the city consists of ash, glass, and volcanic rock. There are aluminum silicate minerals in the volcanic rock platform expense of clay minerals. These are the minerals that are part of what is known as the smectite group. Foundation repair contractors are aware of the harm of these expensive soils and know how they can crack a foundation.

Sedimentary rock that creates clay soils is the second group of clay soils. If you have an older home that is built on clay soil, it is likely that your foundational experience substantial on Dacian movement and need some type of repair due to these types of soils.

drainage-system-1When a home has proper foundation drainage it will protect the crawlspaces as well as any other drainage problems. Popular drainage systems are surface drain, French drain, and yard drainage systems. These would include sump pumps, catch basins, capillary and channel drains.

Drainage systems in Kansas City

  • Contractors sometimes install French drains to prevent water from entering beneath a foundation. Surface drains help to prevent water from standing or yard flooding.
  • drainage-system-2When water migrates through soils, it can take as long as 1 to 2 years before a homeowner notices a problem with their foundation.
  • Contractors will install French drains when excess groundwater is a problem.
  • Yard drains are installed to assist soil from corrosion or becoming oversaturated.

The best foundation drainage system for yard water problems

  • People use one two two types of systems. The first system would be a surface drainage system (sump pumps, channel drains, capillary systems). The second system would be French drains.
  • drainage-system-3Drainage correction in Kansas City is very important because of the amount of weight inherent in water. One gallon of water weighs about 8.5 pounds, which exerts incredible amounts of hydrostatic pressure on the home’s foundation. This is what leads to foundation cracks and other issues.

How drainage contractors install french drains

  • Generally, the installation takes one to two days.
  • drainage-system-4The systems are placed directly next to the foundations.
  • The process involves digging a trench and placing a 4 inch perforated PVC pipe that is then covered with a porous sock. Once the pipe is placed down it is covered with 4 to 6 inches of native soil and pea gravel.
  • French drains are helpful to keep water from seeping underneath the house. This is beneficial to slabs and beam foundations.
  • There should never be a problem if the system is in place and there is rain up to 4 inches in one day.

Installing a surface drain, sump pump, capillary or channel drain

  • These types of drains are used to move large volumes of water.
  • This is especially useful in properties where water is trapped and the soil becomes quickly saturated.
  • Surface drains are placed in such areas to drain catch basins of various sizes.
  • The water is carried from the catch basin by PVC pipe or other corrugated plastic.
  • Crawlspaces and yards with large surface water areas sometimes require sump pump installations.

drainage-system-5How foundations benefit from the french drains and surface systems

  • The systems divert water away from the house foundation and remove the risk of potential damage.
  • French drains push rainwater into storm sewers so that it does not affect the foundation.
  • The purpose of the systems is to ensure that water which is trapped under the surface of the soil is removed.

Other types of yard drainage systems

In some situations, it is recommended to use landscaping to redirect water. Contacting a professional who is familiar with a variety of landscape methods it is recommended.


Yes. This is certainly possible. When you select trees to go around your home, you always want to select ones that do not have an extensive root system. Before purchasing, it is helpful to speak with an expert to understand what kind of root system particular tree have because they can destroy your property.

Trees that you should not plant near your home

You should never plant trees that have long, lateral roots near your home. Trees with roots like this can get under your structure and force it upwards. This happens when the roots become saturated with water, pull moisture out of the soil and begin damaging your foundation.

The best selection is always trees that have tap roots. This includes oaks, walnut trees, hickory, and conifers. Trees that you should avoid include maples, ash trees, and cottonwoods.


Choosing the distance where you should plant a tree

The safe distance for planting is a minimum of 15 feet. If you plant a tree that has a large root system, you should plant no less than 25 feet away from your house. The farther away that you plant the tree the better. The reason for this is that the root system can be 2 to 4 times greater.

Roots can cause additional harm beyond just the foundation. They can affect underground utilities, driveways, and sidewalks. In some instances, it is beneficial to install a root barrier to protect your home from being affected.

One of the great things that any homeowner can do is build strong landscaping on every side of their house. This landscaping can help to stop problems that may ultimately require the need for a foundation repair. Here are a few tips to help you out.

landscaping-2Landscape every side of your foundation to protected from damage

Many people provide landscaping on the front and back of their home. But, it is just as important to landscape at the sides of your home as well. The reason is that the landscaping helps to prevent the soil from eroding or even expanding. If landscaping is not present, soil can expand and lead to foundation cracks. Landscaping should be done around your foundation using plants that I have deep roots. Avoiding plants with shallow roots is very important.

Flower beds should slope away from the foundation.

Experts recommend having a drop of 9 to 10 inches for the first 10 feet around the house. This prevents moisture from accumulating under the foundation. This equates to a slope of around 3 to 5% away from your foundation. Embankments should not be steeper than a ratio of 1:2.

Provide thorough mulch for your flowerbeds

Many people do not realize the importance of mulching to prevent future foundation problems. In the hot summer months, mulch retains moisture for your plants and prevents the soil from becoming excessively dry. Dry soil is one of the leading causes the foundation movement.

Drainage systems for prevention

Make sure to provide adequate drainage spaces that allow water to flow out of your landscaping and downhill. If you have bricks as a border, it is important to leave a small amount of space between the bricks to allow for water flow. If you don’t do this, the water will be held and oversaturate the ground. French drains are a popular solution to preventing flooding, erosion, seepage and sedimentation.

landscaping-1Place large trees away from the foundation

Plant trees no closer than 20 feet from your home. Large trees have roots that extend 1 to 2 times the height of the tree. These routes commonly cause foundation issues because of the massive amount of moisture they require from the soil. If you do have trees placed close to your house they should be watered a minimum of two times per week during the summer. It is also recommended to have root barriers installed 3 to 5 feet deep to direct tree roots away from your foundation. Plants or shrubs that are 6 feet tall should be planted around 5 feet away from your home.

leveling-floors3Many structures need leveling because the floors themselves have issues. Homes in Kansas City often require slab foundation repair or pier and beam work to stop floors from sloping. If a home has  uneven floors, it is a strong indication that there is damage that needs a repair. Unless a house is severely damaged, it is difficult to sometimes see just how unlevel the floors are. Foundation or house leveling is critical because it prevents the floors from sloping.

Issues developed with all types of foundations, including peer and beam foundations and concrete slabs.

How to find out if floors are not level:

leveling-floors2The best way to determine if your floors are not level is to roll a large marble across the floor and see if it rolls straight or goes downhill. While this may not be a scientific approach to understanding the severity of a problem, it is a simple way to see if this is a problem that should be looked into. The only way to know exactly how uneven your floors maybe is to have a specialist evaluate them for you. Kansas City foundation repair can provide this evaluation for free.

What causes floors to have issues?

leveling-floors1There are different things that cause a concrete slab or pier and beam foundation to have problems. Typically, the causes of these problems include poor structural design, soil under your house or structure that is improperly compacted, soil movement, and excessive moisture that may be caused by improper foundation draining or plumbing leaks. In Kansas City, foundation repair costs average $5000, but fixing slabs can exceed $12,000. In some cases, leveling a house can be well over $20,000. The only way to know for sure is to speak with a professional.

When is house leveling needed?

As soon you see problems with your floors you will want to have it fixed. A repair specialist that takes care of concrete slab foundations may suggest having a licensed plumber perform a hydrostatic plumbing test to see if you have any leaks. In the event that you need steel or concrete piers, these can be installed to stabilize your home.

Foundation issues in Kansas City are common. This is because of the drastic change in climate in our area which causes foundation movement.

The metro area typically has a temperature extremes ranging from 100° to as low as 0°. These changes in temperature profoundly affect foundations, test their integrity and generally create serious concerns. It is important to act quickly when you see indications of a problem. When it is very cold, the ground tends to expand. As the weather warms up and the soil becomes more dry, the ground surrounding the foundation begins to shrink. These adjustments are what often causes foundation issues that must be fixed. The sooner you can address the issues the better. Cracks and gaps are indications of problems in the foundation that you’ll want to be aware of.

Another item to be aware of that can affect your foundation is moisture. Slab cracks can become large and sometimes the foundation will sink or settle again. Addressing these items as soon as possible is suggested.

Cracks are signs of problems.

Indicators of trouble include brick cracks, slab cracks, ceiling gaps, floor fractures, floors that are uneven, doors that don’t close properly, a fireplace that is leaning or separated from the ceiling, mildew or mold in crawlspaces, damp and musty smells, cabinets that may not be hanging properly, spaces around windows or doors, cracks in the chimney or sagging floors.

It is important to address issues that may be affecting your concrete slab foundation. Delaying the repair of these items generally adds cost to the overall repair. The same is true of pier and beam foundations, which is sometimes an indicator that the house is sinking.

Most communities do require that a structural engineer provides a report before repairing your foundation. Depending on where you are located in the Metro Kansas City area will determine if that report is needed. If you do need an engineer we will be able to recommend one. Structural engineer reports provide you with recommendations by a certified engineering expert. It is common to have these prepared when doing foundation repairs and are always done prior to any work beginning.

Most communities do require that a structural engineer provides a report before repairing your foundation. Depending on where you are located in the Metro Kansas City area we’ll determine if that report is needed. If you do need an engineer we will be able to recommend one. Structural engineer reports provide you with recommendations by a certified engineering expert. It is common to have these prepared when doing foundation repairs and are always done prior to any work beginning.