Understanding Active Soil



You may or may not realize it, but the soil beneath your feet is not as stable as you might expect. In some areas of the country, the geological composition or makeup of the soil can cause serious instability, particularly when it comes to the movement or shift of a building’s foundation.

A structure on a section of ground or soil with this issue can experience some severe damage and maintenance issues. Structural damage can occur to homes and businesses, causing problems with the walls, floors, windows and even interior. Floor tile may crack and warp, for example, or windows can become naturally sealed shut, never to open again.

Soil that moves or is unstable is called “active” or expansive because of how dynamic it is. There is a significant difference between active and inactive soil, including its composition and how environmental conditions can affect it. If you own a home, are considering buying one or planning to move properties — even as a business owner — there are some things you should know about active soil.

Why Soils Expand or Become Active

Expansive or active soils are a form of ground composition that expand and shift when they encounter moisture. When the soil or clay meets water, it expands, and when it dries out again, it shrinks. That creates a continuous pattern of activity and instability.

Imagine building the foundation or structure of a residence on top of that type of soil. It’s not safe or stable, and can lead to severe issues. Over time, significant damage to a structure on active soil will likely occur. These damages can include exterior cracks, hard to close windows and doors, wall gaps and floor tile cracks inside your home.

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