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Soil Shifting in New Orleans: The Imperative of Regular Foundation Inspections

Aug 18, 2023 | Foundation Inspection

Soil Shifting in New Orleans: The Imperative of Regular Foundation Inspections

New Orleans, with its unique topography and vibrant culture, is no stranger to the challenges of soil movement. The city sits atop a shifting delta made of sediment that the Mississippi River has deposited over millennia. The frequent soil shifting in this region isn’t just an intriguing geological phenomenon, but a significant concern for homeowners. Here’s why it’s vital to have your foundation inspected regularly if you live in the Big Easy.

Understanding the Soil Dynamics

The sedimentary layers beneath New Orleans are a mix of clay, silt, and sand. This composition results in what’s termed as “expansive soils.” These soils have a high capacity to absorb water, leading them to expand, and then contract upon drying. This constant cycle of expansion and contraction can wreak havoc on the foundations of homes, leading to potential structural damages.

The Role of Human Activity

Over the years, development and urbanization have exacerbated soil shifting. Drainage systems introduced to make land buildable have led to a drop in the water table, which in turn causes soil compression and subsidence (sinking of the ground). This has been intensified by the extraction of groundwater for municipal and industrial use.

Why Regular Foundation Inspections Are Vital

  1. Early Detection: Like any problem, catching foundation issues early can prevent more extensive and expensive damage later on.
  2. Safety: Foundation issues can lead to severe structural problems in a home, posing potential risks to its inhabitants.
  3. Property Value: Homes with foundation problems can see a significant dip in their market value. Regular inspections and timely interventions can preserve and even boost the property’s value.
  4. Peace of Mind: Knowing your home is safe and structurally sound can offer immense peace of mind.

References from Around the Web:

  1. USGS – “Subsidence in the Central Valley, California” – Although focused on California, this article provides a comprehensive understanding of subsidence which is relatable to New Orleans’ scenario.
  2. The Times-Picayune – “Sinking New Orleans: Ground slowly giving way, making flooding worse, study says.” This local newspaper often covers subsidence issues in the city. 
  3. – “How New Orleans is Getting Suckered by its Own Groundwater” – An insightful article on how human activity is contributing to the city’s sinking. 
  4. Foundation Repair Guide – This website provides an array of articles and resources on why foundations fail and how to prevent such issues. 

In conclusion, soil shifting in New Orleans is not just a geologist’s concern but should be on every homeowner’s radar. Regular foundation inspections are the key to ensuring the safety and longevity of one’s home amidst this ever-shifting ground.

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