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Soil erosion is defined as a gradual process that occurs when the impact of water or wind detaches  and removes soil particles, causing the soil to deteriorate. The worst part of this is that soil erosion can damage foundations. The loss of the proactive topsoil around the structure will result in damage beneath the foundation, which will diminish structural integrity.

Sometimes this will be reflect in the building tilting or leaning, the walls buckling and floors undulating. In case however these signs are not present, but you’d like to double check, the best way to do so is to run a visual inspection. Pull back the hedges and make sure that less than four inches of your foundation is visible. Any lower than that and taking action will be required. Make sure to be on the look out for moisture as well. 

But how can you not only control but stop erosion in your property? Well, there are different preventive actions that you can take:

First, you can establish several erosion control measures, both biological and non-biological. These can improve the integrity of the soil. Planting grasses, shrubs and flowers around a foundation will reduce soil loss as the roots will become firmly entrenched in the dirt, actively anchoring the soil in its place. Not only they are inexpensive method of halting soil erosion, but they are aesthetically pleasing. It is important to note that trees should not be planted near foundations however as their roots will eventually cause much more harm than good.

And for cases where plants and shrubs are not a viable option, concrete paving and gravel coverage can do the trick, as they are equally effective in preventing erosion.

Next, are drainage systems. When large amounts of water creep beneath the foundation, it will also wash the soil away. So installing gutters and downspouts can effectively channel rainwater away, minimizing erosion. Ideally water should be channeled 10 feet away from the base of the building. French drains are also an effective mean to prevent soil from washing away from the foundation. A very good idea is to tie your gutters to a fresh drain, to make double-sure that rainwater will be carried away from the foundation.

Proper slopes are also essential. Flat level slopes or inverted ones will cause water pooling, damaging the foundation and initiating erosion damage. A slope of 5% for the first 10 feet is the minimum ideal. This helps ensure that moisture doesn’t become a concern. 

Retaining barriers can also be installed at the bottom of slopes, minimizing movement of the soil. These walls, which are effectively barriers, will maintain the slope, preventing topsoil displacement, even when under heavy rainfall and water runoffs. Stepped terraces are also a variation of this system, comprising of not one, but a series of retaining walls installed at intervals throughout the slope.

Meshes, piles and nets are also quite useful when the topsoil is extremely loose. There is quite a variety of retaining materials, which include sprayed concrete, holding compounds, rock drapes and piles as well as high-tensile steel meshes. All of these, however requiere licensed professionals for their adequate installation.

And finally, constant monitoring is essential. Making sure whatever method has been installed, is still in functioning order. Drains, gutters and downspouts in special have to be undergo routine checks to ensure that they remain fully functional as they can be clogged with debris, dirt and leaves. If unchecked they will block the flow, accumulating water and causing even more damage. Effectively becoming what Obi-Wan once described as: ‘…the very thing (they) swore to destroy!’ 

When doing these checks, make sure to look for any signs of broken pipes. Leaks in slab foundations can go undetected for years. Pier and beam foundations can also be severely damaged by moisture and leaks, although in this cases it is a easier to detect than on slab on grad foundations. So getting rid of plumbing leaks beneath the foundation will help immeasurably to stop erosion and moisture.

So if you have any questions about the different methods to stop soil erosion, need one installed or you simply need an expert assessing for any possible soil erosion, leaks or damages do not hesitate to call us!

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