Soil stabilization is an important part of the home construction process. It's one of the first things done so the soil is strong enough to bear the weight of the concrete slab and house. If the soil isn't stabilized properly, then the foundation could sink at some point in the future and leave you with costly repairs to deal with. Here's a look at what soil stabilization does and the methods for doing it, whether it's for a new home or your current home that has foundation problems.
What Soil Stabilization Does
Soil stabilization involves mixing cement or chemicals with the soil to create a material that is stronger and has less of an ability to shift. This is important because soil will expand when it absorbs a lot of water, and then the soil shrinks back down when it dries out. This movement can cause a foundation to be stressed and crack. Compacting the soil properly helps with this problem, but stabilizing the soil adds further protection for a foundation. Soil stabilization is also used when a void develops under concrete. A void can be serious because the concrete starts to sink and may eventually collapse if the void is large enough. By pumping cement or chemical foam into the soil, the void is filled and the area becomes stable again so it can support the weight of the foundation.
How Soil Stabilization Is Done
Your contractor will choose the right method depending on the type of soil on your property, since different types of soils have different abilities to expand and contract. Two common methods of stabilization include mixing cement with the soil and using foam that expands and hardens. This can be done to the soil before a foundation is poured, but it can also be done to an existing foundation by drilling holes in it and pumping the cement or foam in the hole and into the soil. Soil stabilization also acts as a form of foundation repair since it will raise a sunken slab while it stabilizes the soil and fills a void. This method of raising concrete and stabilizing the base under it can be used for all types of concrete, including sidewalks and driveways.
Even if your home was built on a base that was properly compacted, extreme weather could affect the soil underneath and lead to foundation trouble. A long drought can cause soil to contract more than normal while a heavy rainy season with flooding can cause the soil to expand. There is always a potential for foundation damage from various threats, and soil stabilization could be the repair solution that saves your home.