A Comprehensive Guide To Frost Heave And Its Prevention

Here is the comprehensive guide to frost heave and how to prevent it

Beneath the serene exterior of winter, a hidden force can wreak havoc on building structures. This force, frost heave, refers to soil movements and can leave visible cracks in your foundation. If left unaddressed, this could lead to water seepage and structural collapse. Keep reading to learn more about frost heave and what you can do for its prevention.

Frost Heave: What Is It?

  • In winter, when the temperature drops below the freezing point, the water contained in the soil converts into ice, causing the soil to expand with it. This expansion pushes everything around it. As a result, the soil surface naturally moves upward. The phenomenon causes dirt, rocks, plants, tree roots, and other materials to lift upward toward the ground’s surface. This movement exerts pressure on the foundation, thereby leading to foundation damage.

However, as the temperature fluctuates, frost heave causes further foundational issues. When the temperature rises, the ice in the ground melts. This results in the formation of gaps in the soil below the foundation. More moisture is drawn into the gaps. When the temperature drops again, the increased moisture in the soil leads to more significant volumes of ice formation, thus aggravating soil movement and frost heave. These repeated cycles of freezing and thawing cause severe damage to the foundations, compromising the structural integrity of a home.

Signs Of Frost Heave

  • The freeze and thaw cycle of soil causes cracks in the foundation, leading to structural instability. In addition to cracks, other telltale signs of frost-heave damage include uneven floors and doors. Windows may no longer open or close properly, and visible gaps between walls and ceilings may be seen.

These signs indicate the foundation has been compromised and requires immediate measures to prevent further deterioration. Moreover, external signs of frost-heave damage can appear in upheaved sidewalks, driveways, and patios. When the ground expands and contracts, these concrete surfaces become uneven, posing a tripping hazard.

Prevention Of Frost Heave

  • The detrimental effect of frost heave on the foundation can be reduced with the help of the following preventive measures:

Improve Drainage Systems

  • Poor drainage is the major factor that leads to frost heave. However, installing a French drain or a similar drainage system on your property can effectively address this issue. A French drain is a trench filled with gravel or rock that redirects excess water away from your foundation and into a designated drainage area. Moreover, adding gravel around your foundation can also encourage adequate water drainage.

Install Hydronic Heating System

  • It is necessary to ensure that the foundation piers reach deep into the earth to remain safe from freeze-and-thaw cycles’ effects. If your home does not have pre-construction piers, they can be installed later to support the concrete slab.

In addition, the installation of a hydronic heating system helps prevent frost heave. Boilers that warm a house using hot water should be installed in homes. The steam from these boilers would heat your home and keep the earth below the building sufficiently warm.

Stabilize The Soil

  • soil beneath the foundation must be stable to reduce the risk of foundation problems. Certain polymers are injected into the ground to prevent the soil from getting too saturated with moisture.

Use Insulation Sleeves

  • guide to frost heaveInsulation sleeves are helpful because they prevent the ice from gripping the concrete. Wrapping concrete foundation posts in insulation sleeves can reduce the risk of crack formation. In addition, homeowners need to construct proper footing that can withstand upward movement.

Preserve the integrity of your home by effectively fixing the foundation issues. For all sorts of foundational problems, give us a call at 877-727-2259. Our experts from Crack-X will assess the damage and provide necessary foundation repairs. Crack-X is a structural repair company located in Maine and New Hampshire.