Besides being so close to so much water, Milton is historically known for being hot and muggy. A climate survey reports the town as 98% muggy with 5.8 precipitation in the hottest months. This means foundation issues all over the town. What are the primary culprits?
Milton’s historically muggy weather, high chance of flooding events, and temperature scale can all be harmful to a concrete foundation. A large part of Milton is in a 100-year flood zone. Soil swelling is caused by extreme wet conditions. This moisture seeps and accumulates under the house’s foundation. The standing water is the culprit of many problems, including cracking the foundation itself. Water creates mud, and both will push on the foundation forming vulnerable areas. Water is heavier than most people believe and can do significant damage.
Improper Construction and Soil Preparation
Milton is growing. In 2011, the population was about 9,000 citizens, compared to 2019 when the census counted a little over 10,000 residents. Construction is moving fast. This means there may be more mistakes during construction. Examples include too high or premature backfill, uneven slabs, curing the concrete too quickly, and voids in the concrete. Correcting issues caused by these early mistakes can be costly. Furthermore, many homeowners are unaware that soil must be tested and compacted adequately before construction begins. Without proper preparations and knowledge of these preparations, home and business owners are in for future headaches and unexpected high costs.
Roots of Trees and Bushes
Builders need to note when pouring the foundation where small trees and saplings are growing. More giant trees native to the area will produce roots that will apply pressure on adjoining foundation walls. In time, they can move entire walls. If you note such historic structures, such as St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Rectory, you can see part of the historic preservation almost always includes the foundation and walls.
Much of Milton’s soil is loam, and loam is an excellent resource for plants and foliage growth. This means that plants, shrubs, and trees will flourish. While it can make for a beautiful environment, the roots of these plants present an “undercover” danger to a foundation.
Gutter and Downspout Issues
With Milton’s high percentage of summer rain, sturdy and functional gutters and downspout are vital. They push rain away from the foundation, but with Milton being a historic town, gutter and downspouts get rusty, detach, and fall with time. Once this happens, that water flows into basements and foundations.
One of the most common causes of foundation problems in the Milton area is soil swelling. Due to changes to the earth caused by farming and forestation, soil can change under a foundation, which causes shifting, cracking, and heaving. Milton’s soil classifications range from sandy loam (well-drained) to fine loamy sand (somewhat poorly-drained). The soil must be considered when designing the foundation. Mainly associated with fine-grained soils, swelling damages can be costly to repair. It’s estimated that shrinking and swelling soil issues cause approximately $2.3 billion in damages annually in the U.S.
Milton is the county seat in Santa Rosa County, a county known for a variance in soil. Soil shrinkage can occur across the county in various areas. Summers without rain can lead the sandier grounds to dry out. Dry soil causes foundation cracks by creating pockets of air and gaps. The heavy rains we also experience will fill and rinse away most dry dirt, resulting in an unsupported foundation.