Foundation Failure and Soils `





Foundation Failure and Soils  `

            The soil is a central aspect of the environment that engineers should be aware of before initiating any housing project. The soil is essential in determining the factors that lead to foundation failure. Key among them is expansive soil types such as clay that undergo significant changes in their moisture level. An increase in moisture level causes the soil to swell. The resultant pressure may cause the structure to heave subsequently relax when dry causing the soil to contract(Jackse). Towards resolving this problem with expansive soils the contractors should enact strong underpinnings that take into account the seasonal changes of the said soil. Even in slab-on-grade foundations should ensure the moisture content of the surrounding soil and said slab are consistent. Apart from the said underpinnings structural features such as gutters to direct rainwater away from the house are essential in creating a proper drainage of the soil. Geotechnical engineers do not built in a vacuum. As such, knowledge on the soil type and accompaniment properties of a prospective project becomes not only invaluable but also necessitated.

Fig 1

            The foundation failure of a house may also be compromised owing to soil erosion. If the soil erosion rate leaves the foundation without the support of the upper soil layer, the structure becomes susceptible to differential settlement. As a section of the foundation becomes visible from the surface, a new underpinning is required to stabilize the structure (Jackse). The engineers should strive to ensure that the structure seats on uniform soil conditions. If one part is comprised of expansive soil and the remaining half is founded on rock the probability of differential settlement becomes manifold. Both soil erosion as well constant heaving and contraction cycle of the soil corresponding to moisture changes takes its toil on a structure’s foundation (Selvadurai 36). Soil erosion may affect the integrity of a building’s foundation when it built along a slope. This type of erosion is termed by geologist as mass wasting. The movement of the earth downhill may be slow or first as is the case with landslides. The pressure exerted on the foundation owing the gravitational advantage of the soil build up along the structures perimeter may eventually overwhelm said building. The building may withstand the pressure if the underpinnings were designed with the eventuality of mass wasting taken into account.

Fig 2

            . Ecological awareness is a prerequisite of any aspiring civil engineer. While the roots of trees help to stabilize the soil surrounding a structure, the transpiration is also a cause of fluctuations in soil moisture content (Selvadurai 42). The soil changes are beneath the surface and invisible to the unobservant eye, vigilance is required. Changes in soil moisture content may be gradual owing to changes in climate that may cause the water table to rise. It follows the foundation may require modification to repair differential settlement despite utilizing proper building techniques. Though choosing the best soil before embarking on a construction venture may seem simple, it is complicated. Other variables such as proximity to social amenities, infrastructure such as good roads, family relations, and business opportunities may make the only empty site of a given state very strategic despite the expansive soil and different soil structures. It follows that an engineer should learn how to anticipate vulnerabilities to foundation failure and enact mechanisms to mitigate the above eventuality.

Works Cited

Jackse, Ram. “Why is my home’s foundation beginning to settle?” Home Foundation Repair.2016. <>  

Selvadurai, Antony PS. Elastic analysis of soil-foundation interaction. Elsevier, 2013. Print.

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