The Leading Cause of Failing Foundations in Louisiana: Understanding the Soil
Louisiana, known for its vibrant culture, rich history, and the mighty Mississippi, faces a significant issue when it comes to home and building foundations. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the leading cause of failing foundations in the state, and explore how homeowners and builders can address this issue.
Soil Composition and Foundation Failures
Expansive Clay Soils
The primary culprit for failing foundations in Louisiana is the expansive clay soils prevalent throughout the state. According to the Louisiana State University AgCenter, the soil in the region is composed mainly of heavy clay, which is known to expand when wet and contract when dry1. This fluctuation often leads to movement in foundations, which causes cracks and other structural damages.
Frequent Rain and Flooding
Louisiana’s climate also contributes to foundation problems. The state experiences high levels of rainfall and is prone to flooding. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that Louisiana received an average annual rainfall of 60 inches between 1981 and 20102. This moisture can cause the clay soils to expand significantly, exacerbating foundation issues.
Consequences of Foundation Failures
When the foundation of a building fails, it can cause a domino effect of damages throughout the structure. Walls can crack, doors may not close properly, and in extreme cases, the building may become uninhabitable.
Foundation repairs can be costly. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of repairing a foundation in the United States ranges from $1,977 to $6,8963. However, this cost can be much higher in areas with expansive clay soils, like Louisiana.
Tips for Preventing Foundation Failures
Here’s a bullet list of steps that homeowners and builders can take to prevent foundation failures due to expansive soils:
- Conduct a Soil Test: Before building, conduct a soil test to understand the composition of the soil and plan the foundation accordingly.
- Use Foundation Piers: Installing deep foundation piers can help to stabilize the foundation by anchoring it into more stable soil beneath the surface.
- Install Proper Drainage: Having a good drainage system around the foundation can help in preventing water from pooling around the foundation.
- Plant Trees at a Distance: Trees can absorb water from the soil, but planting them too close to the foundation can cause soil contraction that can affect the foundation.
- Regularly Monitor and Maintain: Keep an eye on the foundation for any signs of damage and address issues promptly.
Understanding the soil composition and taking preventive measures is crucial in avoiding foundation failures in Louisiana. With the state’s heavy clay soils and frequent rain, being proactive in foundation planning and maintenance is essential for the longevity and safety of buildings.
Louisiana State University AgCenter. “Managing Expansive Clay Soils. https://www.lsuagcenter.com/topics/lawn_garden/home_gardening/soil_preparation/managing-expansive-clay-soils ↩
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “Climate at a Glance: Statewide Mapping. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/statewide/time-series/21/pcp/12/12/1895-2022 ↩
HomeAdvisor. “2023 Foundation Repair Costs.