Home Improvement

How Extreme Temperatures Compromise Your Home’s Foundation

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Temperatures Compromise Your Home’s Foundation

The changing seasons can take a toll on your health. Because of the temperature fluctuations, your immune system weakens and leaves you more vulnerable to flu, common colds, and even allergic reactions.

But you’re not the only one that’s affected by the rapid temperature changes – your home bears some burden, too. The extreme heat and cold can weaken its foundation and have long-term effects on its overall structural integrity.

Find out how:

Frost Heave on Soil

A property’s foundation is built several feet underground to ensure stability, but it will ultimately depend on the type of soil lying underneath the building. You’re looking at soil variations with different percentages of clay, sand, silt, and loam, which creates either loose or expansive soil.

With expansive soil, the behavior depends partly on the temperature. Since it’s made mostly of clay, which has a high moisture content, the topmost layer of the ground would freeze during winter. The soil below also starts freezing as the cold seeps deeper into the layers underneath.

When the water inside the clay hardens, the soil will expand and lift the upper layers. This process is known as frost heave. If you got an aluminum panel fence over this part of the ground, for example, frost heave is likely to raise the fence together with the soil, leaving your fencing structure uneven and unreliable.

On the other hand, when the temperature goes up and the ground thaws after winter, the soil will start to contract and starts coming back down with it. Unfortunately, it may not go back to its original position. The expansion and contraction can leave cracks on the concrete, and therein lies the foundation problem.

One way to avoid this is to build the foundation deeper than frost depth, or the level on which the groundwater freezes. That makes it hard for the frozen water to rise and affect the upper layers of the soil.

Concrete Expansion

Just like practically all objects, concrete expands when exposed to heat. That happens because the particles vibrate more at higher temperatures. The vibration causes the particles to separate from each other, hence the expansion.

As demonstrated with soil, the hot and cold can also cause concrete to expand and contract. Each type of aggregate reacts differently to extreme temperatures due to their varying thermal properties.

The hotter it is inside compared to the temperature of the concrete outside, the likelier that there will be cracks. That is where concrete joints come in. You need these grid lines to create spaces that would let concrete shrink and expand without causing any real, long-term damage to the overall integrity of the structure.

One way to prevent unhealthy expansion and contraction is to carefully plan your concrete spaces to ensure not only a seamless finish but also a protective one.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. If you’re getting a new house, examine the ways extreme temperatures can compromise your home’s foundation and the measures you can take to prevent them. If the house is old, have it checked for structural damage so that you have time to fix any problems before it’s too late.

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