Street Creep can rattle your foundation and give your wallet a serious frisk
Here in St. Louis, we are subject to a lot of seasonal changes. In the summer, the soil around the city becomes incredibly dry. Then, in the rain-heavy or freezing cold days, the soil can expand like crazy. Experiencing each season is part of life here, but did you know the changes could be affecting your foundation? Among other things, seasonal changes in soil density can put unwanted pressure on your home. One of the primary ways these changes directly affect your home is through a phenomenon known as “street creep.”
In addition to sounding like something you would hear about on the 5 o’clock news, street creep is actually a very relevant and common issue in St. Louis. If you don’t detect street creep symptoms and fix them early, they can broaden in scope until they cause severe damage to your home.
What is Street Creep?
Street creep refers to the gradual or sporadic increase in pressure a street puts on a house under various circumstances. In Missouri, you are allowed to pour concrete and streets on virgin soil. The soil underneath that concrete, then, is subject to changes in density depending on weather conditions. When soil expands, it can push the concrete from the street into your driveway, which then pushes into your foundation. Pressure from the street can cause anything between minor foundation cracks to a collapsed garage.
When a foundation is first created, it is supposed to take street creep into account by creating various buffer systems. For instance, the apron at the front of your driveway should be about 6 in thick, while the driveway itself should be at least 4 in thick.There may also be a membrane inserted into the driveway’s concrete which absorbs the unwanted pressure.
These aspects are especially necessary if your home is in a high-risk area. Generally speaking, this problem affects homes with concrete driveways and attached garages. Homes near cul de sacs, busy intersections or other high-traffic areas are at risk of street creep because the increased activity heightens the likelihood the concrete with shift. Finally, homes built below hills are also particularly susceptible to this problem due to gravity.
Your foundation could be in a lot of trouble if it is absorbing too much pressure from the street. Given the potential implications of street creep in your neighborhood, it is important to understand what it looks like.
Signs, Symptoms and Red Flags
Knowing what to look for in your driveway and garage can help you determine if street creep is impacting your home.
One of the first things to look into is the sidewalk. If a sidewalk runs through your driveway, check to see if the sidewalk concrete is aligned with your driveway’s concrete. If they are at odds in anyway, that is the first sign the street is shifting your concrete.
Another important thing to look at is the apron of your driveway. The front of your driveway is the point of contact between the street and your foundation. If street creep is a problem, you should be able to see visible cracks at the edge of your driveway. These cracks are merely a symptom of a much larger issue, so fixing them is just one step toward a safer foundation.
Finally, the last place to check is your garage’s concrete for irregularities. Walk to your garage from your driveway, step inside and take a look at the point where concrete slab meets the home’s foundation. Ideally, these two fundamental foundation pieces should be touching, or near touching. If there is a gap between them, however, it is time to call a professional. This is a clear sign that your concrete is shifting right under your feet. Other signs include bowed or bent basement walls or garage wall cracks.
The first thing a professional will want to do is stop the pressure. There are a few ways to do this, but the most common is to install a membrane to absorb some of the weight. Membranes are buffers inserted between two slabs of concrete. Properly installed, these tools shrink and expand along with the concrete, significantly reducing stress on your foundation in the process.
This preventative measure is much more desirable than making repairs after a disaster occurs. While it is almost always preferable to take preventative measures, it is especially true with street creep because of the added costs. If you notice the early signs, you may be able to have some or all of the cost covered by the government. Most municipalities have a policy in place for street creep claims. Typically, these policies require “visible proof” of street creep. If there is proof, they will make necessary repairs to your driveway and decrease the potential for any future street creep problems.
They will not, however, pay for the damages to your home. If your garage collapses due to street creep, you are stuck with the bill. That is why it is so important to call a professional and take care of this issue before it ever happens.
At WaterProof Solutions, we pride ourselves in completing a job the right way the first time. We offer full foundation inspections as well as any necessary foundation repair service, and we pride ourselves in doing what is right for your foundation, not our wallets. Contact us today to learn more about our foundation services.