In the 1930s, drought and soil erosion in the Plains region of the U.S. reached a climax with major dust storms. As the years passed, we conquered the Dust Bowl and improved the farming practices that caused it.
Nowadays, drought and soil erosion affects the everyday Coloradan in different ways—by causing cracks in your exterior concrete or foundation. Learn more about soil erosion and washout, and how Peak Structural’s 30 years of experience can help your home and concrete stand tall against the elements.
What Causes Soil Washout or Soil Erosion Around Homes?
According to Iowa State University, “Soil erosion is the detachment and movement of soil particles from the point of origination through the action of water or wind.” In short, it’s when soil is washed away by a powerful force like wind, rain, or flooding. These major factors below have a huge impact on the severity of erosion to your home and concrete: drought and wind, rain, water drainage, and leaks.
Drought and Wind
Widespread drought in Colorado means bad news for the expansive clay soil your home was likely built on. Clay is known to shrink, crack, and loosen when it gets too dry. After weeks or months without precipitation, loose clay topsoil can easily be displaced and blown away by gusts of wind. Yes—that’s right. Wind can literally blow the topsoil away if it’s dried out enough.
While this may seem like an overly simplified explanation, that’s because the process itself is simple. But it won’t just happen overnight in one fell swoop. Erosion takes a long time before you start noticing the effects; so, if you think you’re starting to see it now, it’s already been a work for a while.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, excessive rain can also erode soil around your home and concrete. While this is less common in dry Colorado, enough rain can wash away the top layer of soil in your yard and around your home. This type of soil erosion is also known as washout, and it can happen quicker than erosion by dryness and wind.
Your home may be at risk of this after the first drought-breaking rain, when the topsoil is dried out and displaced. Rain can wash it away much easier, and your concrete or foundation could be at risk of cracks or settlement.
Poor Exterior Drainage
Regardless of the regular weather conditions, if your yard has poor drainage factors like bad gutters or negative grading, erosion will be amplified around your concrete and foundation. Having a poorly installed or bad quality gutter system will allow water to pool around your foundation and wash away soil. Additionally, having a negative graded yard will allow water to flow in the direction of your home as opposed to flowing away.
You can fix these issues as a means of erosion prevention; when you experience snowmelt or rain, positive yard grading and high-quality gutters will be your home’s first line of defense against soil erosion.
How to Spot Soil Erosion
Patches of Bare Soil
The first and most obvious sign of soil erosion is when you can spot large patches of bare soil close to your concrete or foundation. When you don’t see any greenery in your yard, and notice parts of exposed foundation or exposed concrete slabs, you have soil erosion on your hands.
Sunken Concrete Slab
When soil erodes around the important structures of your home, you will notice the embedded structures becoming exposed. This may look like the sides or bottom of your concrete being completely out in the open.
When these parts of your concrete are exposed, it allows for the soil supporting your concrete to be washed away as well. Without a solid support system beneath your concrete, it will sink and become uneven.
Cracks in the Concrete or Foundation Exterior
For the same reason that concrete slabs sink, erosion can also cause concrete slabs and even your home’s foundation to crack and sink further into the soil. This is because part of the structure isn’t being held up by the soil, so it will sink and eventually crack and break off.
There are many ways to fix broken concrete, from a complete replacement to mudjacking; however, the highest quality permanent repair will be polyurethane injections. Polyurethane injections, also known as PolyRenewal™, are a minimally invasive procedure of injecting lightweight foam beneath your concrete slabs. PolyRenewal™ foam is water resistant by nature, so when you do experience the occasional rain, it will still be able to support your concrete even when your soil can’t.
The soil beneath your house is its support system and lifeline; when it dries out, weakens, and blows away, your home and your concrete will sink down with it. You’ll notice cracking, sinking, and crumbling in both your concrete and foundation.
To respond to erosion, you’ll want to have a pier system set up for your foundation, and polyurethane injections to your outdoor concrete like pool deck, patio, sidewalk, and driveway. To prevent erosion, you’ll want to plant foliage around your home (not trees!) to offset any waterflow that may wash away loose topsoil. Installing a drainage system or good gutters can also ensure that water has less of an effect on erosion when it does rain.
Suspect Erosion? Call Peak Structural for Foundation Repair & Concrete Lifting
Born and bred in Colorado and serving our community for 20 years, Peak Structural is your local go-to for expert advice and repairs when you’re dealing with soil erosion. We’re proud to give homeowners in and around Denver, Pikes Peak, and Colorado Springs FREE inspections of your concrete and foundation.
Our certified experts will examine your home for any issues, tell you exactly what’s going on, and hatch a plan with you to fix it based on your home’s unique needs. You can also back up your investment with a long-term, transferrable warranty that will make the repairs worth it. Get started with Peak Structural today!