Clay Found In Southern Utah Can Swell And Destroy Homes
Blue Clay in Southern Utah
If you live in Southern Utah, there is a good chance you have heard of Blue Clay. It gets its name from its purple color. You may have heard the nightmares that have happened to people’s foundations and yards from this destructive soil. It is something to be aware of if you are building or buying an established home.
I talked with Spence Richins with Grass Creek Construction. “Blue Clay is called an expansive soil. Which means when moisture is added to it, it swells,” said Richins. “It causes what is called a heave, meaning it lifts.” This can cause damage to a home.
Test the Soil
A builder will call a Geotechnical engineer who takes a sample of the soil to find what is on the property. They give a recommendation for what they find there. Blue Clay swells but there are also collapsible soils that can be a problem. They provide advice on what you need to do to keep your foundation stable.
You can build on Blue Clay, but you have make room in the foundation for it to expand. One way is a micro pile that leaves room or a void for the clay. There are other ways as well. They also may recommend zero-scape landscaping to keep from getting too much water in the soil.
Clay Can Swell Later
This is where the problems can come if you aren’t aware of the initial report from the Geotechnical engineer. If you buy a home and put in grass or a pool where there was only drip, it can cause problems when the soil gets saturated. You can see damage from Blue Clay just off Bluff St. in St. George.
“It’s a factor that is always there,” said Richins. “So, it doesn’t matter how much you do to mitigate it, the soil could activate.”
This isn’t just a Southern Utah problem, there are different layers of clay and soil that expands or contracts when saturated. You need to be aware what is under your home before you make any big changes that may activate these layers.
LOOK: Go Inside Frank Sinatra's Private Desert Hideaway
Gallery Credit: Rob Carroll
VHS Tapes That Sold For Shocking Amounts of Money