Your soil type directly affects your foundation’s health. It’s important to understand what type of soil you have so that you can improve your yard’s water drainage system and prevent any foundation problems from occurring. Because North Texas’s soil types are so diverse, here’s a way to tell what type of soil you have according to where you live.
According to Soil Alive1 there are 4 types of soils in the Dallas and Greater Fort Worth areas.
1. Clay soil is not only challenging for growing organic matter, but is problematic for foundations because it’s comprised of finely-ground mineral particles with little organic matter. (The Spruce2) Without the organic matter to expand the particles and to absorb the moisture, the resulting soil is small particles that stick together.
Clay doesn’t absorb water very well and shrinks and swells according to the moisture content. Because of clay’s nature to expand when wet and shrink when dry, the shrink-swell process will cause both groundwater during heavy rainfall and shrinking during dry spells. The cracks and crevices caused by this will create the perfect opportunity for clay to be washed away in the next rainfall. Eventually, this will cause voids around your home’s foundation and will need to be addressed.
2. Sandy soil, much like clay, has little organic matter and nutrients in it, however, is comprised of mostly sand and very little clay. Because of that, it is much lighter than clay. The lack of nutrients are caused from the sandy soil’s inability to retain moisture. (Boughton 3)
Sandy soil is great for foundations when mixed with gravel, however, it’s so fine and light that it will get washed away eventually, too.
3. Silty soil is very absorbent & fertile, and therefor retains nutrients much better than clay, sand and loam. The size is somewhere between sand and clay, but with more nutrients and better water retention. It is fine and can be compact, but because of its weight, can also wash away easily. (Boughton)
4. Loam soil is a mixture of clay, silt and sandy soils.
Loamy soil is the best kind of soil for your home’s foundation because of the balanced mixture between clay, sand and silt. It’s going to absorb water well and dry up appropriately so not to cause huge voids.
When it comes to your home’s foundation health, it is absolutely imperative to take as many preventative measures as possible. Knowing how your soil can affect your home’s foundation is one way to stay ahead of the curve. You can’t treat every foundation the same, and each home in the Dallas and Fort Worth Area is going to be a unique case.
Soils of Dallas & Fort Worth
Dallas, Texas (Dallas County) is in the Blackland Prairie range with dark black to light grey clays. The Texas Almanac4 says that the Blackland Prairie has soils that are darker clays and loams. These soils are popular cracking clays that leave big & deep cracks in dryer weather. “This high shrink-swell property can cause some serious damage to foundations, highways, and other structures and is a safety hazard in pits and trenches…Water erosion, cotton root rot, soil tilth, and brush control are the major management problems.”
Fort Worth, Texas
As far as the soils to the west of Dallas, there is a slight bit variation from the clay. Fort Worth, Texas (Tarrant County) covers two regions: the Grand Prairie with a mix of clay, limestone and silty loam soils, and East Cross Timbers with sandy loam soils.
The Cross Timbers soil is mostly comprised of sandy & loamy soils with clayey subsoils. Grand Prairie Soils are very much comprised of darker clays with stone and limestone mixtures. (Texas Almanac)
https://texasalmanac.com/topics/environment/soils-texas (image above)
Prevention is Key
The best way to evade any foundation problems is to be preventative. We know not all foundation issues can be prevented, but most can. Proper water drainage is the absolute best way to avoid any foundation issues. Make sure that your gutter systems are totally up-to-date, in proper working condition and debris-free. Also make sure that your drainage system around your home is in working order. A rule-of-thumb is if you have standing water about 2 hours after a rainfall, your drainage system needs work as soon as possible. Have a professional come out to speak with you about the types of drainage systems that are available.
Additionally, make sure you don’t have any voids (empty spaces around your home’s foundation due to erosion) near your foundation.
And finally, should an issue occur, call a certified professional to talk to you about the types of foundation repairs that are available. You don’t want to wait, and you certainly don’t want the value of your house decreasing!
Written By: Elizabeth Jeter – Freelance digital marketer excelling in SEO, paid advertising, social media management and advertising, blogs, email marketing and more.
About Atlas Foundation Company, Inc. Family-owned and operated, Atlas Foundation has been serving the foundation repair needs of homeowners in Fort Worth and the surrounding areas for more than 50 years. Atlas Foundation Co., Inc. specializing in residential foundation repairs in the greater Fort Worth area, offering concrete pressed pilings & steel pressed pilings services as proven foundation repair methods.