Concrete slab foundations consist of a thick, steel-reinforced concrete slab on which the house stands. They are inexpensive due to the absence of a basement and can be completed in just a few days. Concrete slab foundations are sturdy and long-lasting. However, when poured incorrectly, a slab foundation can fail, leading to costly repairs. Read on to find out the common problems with concrete slab foundations and how to address them at the construction stage of your project.

Inadequate Soil Preparation

A slab foundation spans the entire square footage of the house. Thus, the foundation sits on the ground. Failure to adequately prepare the soil can cause the foundation to fail. For example, if the soil is poorly compacted, parts of the foundation can settle, causing the house to lean to one side. Before pouring the foundation, compact the soil properly to create a sturdy base for the slab. If the subsurface soil is unstable, dig deeper into the subsoil to find more stable soil for the slab foundation.

Damage by Ground Moisture

Moisture damage is one of the leading causes of foundation damage. Since concrete is a porous material, it can absorb moisture from the ground and develop small cracks. As the concrete expands and contracts due to temperature changes, the cracks grow bigger. Eventually, the cracks compromise the stability of the foundation. 

Before pouring a slab foundation, your contractor should lay a waterproofing membrane on the ground to prevent moisture from seeping into the concrete. The membrane bonds with the concrete to keep moisture out. Note that tears or gaps in the fabric can expose the slab to moisture damage. Thus, inspect the waterproofing membrane for tears before pouring the concrete.

Invasion by Tree Roots

Tree roots can invade a concrete slab and cause cracks in the material. These cracks allow moisture seepage, leading to extensive damage to the foundation. If there are large trees in your yard, install an underground root barrier around the foundation. A root barrier is a metal or plastic shield installed several inches beneath the ground. It prevents roots from penetrating the concrete and potentially damaging it.

Foundation Settling

Even with proper installation, concrete slab foundations can settle due to poor soil conditions, ground movement, and unforeseen moisture infiltration. You can protect a slab foundation from unexpected damage by reinforcing it with metal or concrete piers. The piers are driven deep into the ground, where they are supported by bedrock. They stabilize the foundation and protect it from shifting. Reinforcing your foundation at the construction stage can save you from costly underpinning in the future.

Don't wait for your concrete slab foundation to develop problems down the road. Address the above issues so you can build a sturdy, low-maintenance foundation for your structure. Contact a company that offers concrete foundation services to learn more.