Will Frost-Heaving Damage Your Home’s Foundation?

Some foundation repair companies are often called up just to explain how this winter season can damage the foundation of your home. During the winter months, do not assume that your house is already free from the winter’s harm.  

Can the Frost Heave Harm Your Home’s Foundation? 

Of the countless types of damages that may come to your home’s foundation during winter, the frost heave may be the most destructive. The frost heave occurs when the freezing temperatures pass through the ground which cause the subsurface water to form into ice structures which displace the soil along that rests in or on it. As a matter of fact, it was once believed that this frost heave happens due to the expansion of the water as it freezes however, the process is basically more complex, involving not just expansion because of freezing but also the building up of some extra layers of ice as the water is backed up from underneath the frost lines. Aside from that, the depth to which the freezing temperatures pass through the ground is known as the frost front or the freezing plane. 

 When the freezing temperatures pass through the ground, the water that is trapped in the soil forms crystals along the freezing plane. As it solidifies, water expands by approximately 9 percent. In addition to that, the freezing process makes the surrounding soil dry, drawing the unfrozen water from underneath the freezing plane through vapor diffusion or capillary action. The water that have formed like ice crystals thicken and create an ice lens. 

 The traditional approach to the layout of the foundations to prevent the frost damage is to put the foundation above the depth of the expected utmost frost penetration so that soil under the surface will not freeze. Thus, this measure alone doesn’t basically prevent the frost damage.  

What Elements are Necessary for Frost Heave? 

The following are the 3 needed elements for frost heave: 

1. Water 

2. Subfreezing temperatures 

3. Frost susceptible soil 

 Remove just one out of these 3 elements and the frost heaving shall at least be minimized or eliminated. 

The following are some additional factors that affect the degree of the frost heave: 

1. Soil condition and type such as structure, texture, density, etc. 

2. Depth of water table 

3. Permeability of the soil and the mobility of the water 

4. Temperature Gradient 

5. Rate of heat removal 

What are the ways in order to control the frost heave? 

There are a lot of ways to control heave: 

1. Piers and Footings – The code mandates that the support structures either be protected by insulation or extend below the frost line so that the soil is not expose to freezing, thus, heaving.  

2. Patios, Driveways and Walkways – The occurrence of the frost heave may be minimized by the replacement of the frost-susceptible soil with granular material which is not expose to heaving.   

3. Basements – Frost heave can critically damage the basement if the surface surrounding it freezes to the walls. If this is the case, you need to contact a professional foundation repair Orlando FL. 

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