The Ultimate Guide To Frost Heave And Its Effects On Foundation

Learn about the damaging impacts of frost heave and how you can keep your house foundation solid

The upward swelling of soil in response to ice formation is known as frost heave. Understanding frost heave and identifying factors responsible for causing it is essential. Read this comprehensive guide to frost heave and its effects on the foundation.

Occurrence Of Frost Heave

  • In winters, when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the soil’s moisture begins to convert into ice. This expansion of ice pushes everything around it. As a result, the soil surface naturally moves upward.

Additional ice formation leads to further movement of the soil. The phenomenon causes the earth’s dirt, rocks, plants, tree roots, and other materials to lift upward towards the ground’s surface. This movement exerts pressure on the foundation, thereby leading to foundation damage.

Cycles Of Freezing And Thawing

  • 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 the conditions of 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.

Effects Of Frost Heave

  • The lifting forces of the frost heave cause destructive changes to the basement walls. This is especially true in CMU (concrete masonry unit) or brick foundations. The heaving pressure is transmitted from the base of the freezing zone to the foundation. These forces cause displacement of horizontal mortar joints, thereby pulling CMU apart.

This pressure of frost heaving causes cracks in the basement walls. In addition, the differential movements can rip different structures of a home apart. Frost heaving in the clay soils can also cause a deck to separate from a house.

Prevention Of Frost Heave

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

Hydronic Heating System

  • 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.

Extend Foundation Piers

  • 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.

Proper Water Drainage Systems

  • Encourage adequate water drainage by adding gravel around your foundation.

Stabilization of the soil

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

Use Of Insulation Sleeves

  • 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.


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