Easy Solution for Expansive Clay Soil

Stopping Billion Dollar Devastation

by Michael David McGuire

Picture the devastation when a tornadoes passes through a small Texas town. Then picture flood waters running through a major city on the Mississippi… followed by the visual image of a west coast earthquake. Add these events into one visual image… then multiple by all of the hurricane, tornado, flood and earthquake damage this past year in the USA and you would not even come close to the total property damage caused by expansive clay soils. This hidden menace causes billions of dollars in damage to home foundations, commercial property and paved services. The fact that expansive clay soils are, by nature, below the ground, act slowly and cover millions of square miles… means that most people fail to realize the full scope of the destruction. But unlike other forces of nature… which can strike quickly and even unexpectedly… there is something that individual homeowners, developers and contractors can do to completely eliminate the devastation caused by untreated clay soils.

"The solution is really quite simple," said Gaylon Childers, Development Manager of ESSL Soils, who I first met at his office in Burleson, TX, a quaint suburb on the far outskirts of Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex. "The old method for dealing with these situations would have included putting down a lot of lime… which is expensive and not really very effective. The problem of expansive clay soil is much wider across the USA than most people realize." Childers then showed me a map on the wall of his conference room that painted a very clear picture… in various shades of brown and yellow… of the distribution of expansive clay soils across North America. "See right through here," Childers pointed, "and you have the worst problems in the nation." This included wide swaths of Texas, Oklahoma, the Mississippi River Valley, California, Montana, the Dakotas.

My reason for researching clay soil stabilization information was on behalf of a client who was looking to develop a large residential track in Kansas. The previous developer had been forced into bankruptcy by lawsuits alleging shoddy construction… a problem that had been acerbated by laying the original home foundations on untreated expansive clay soils. Some of the darkest yellow shading on Childers' clay soil map was smack dab where my client wanted to take over the housing development. "Your friend's project is not doomed," Childers explained. "He just needs to treat each home tract to stabilize the expansive clay soils underneath… a pretty straightforward and easy process."

I found Childers and his company by doing an online search about foundation failures and stabilization options. My initial inquiries then led me to studies done on taxiways at the DFW Airport, which sits between Dallas and Ft Worth… an area with a major expansive clay soil problem. ESSL soils had stabilized the ground under some of those taxiways almost ten years earlier and there has been no movement since, unlike other untreated tracts in the immediate area. "We're very confident of our EcSS 3000 product and the positive results we bring our customers." Childers' ESSL clients include single family residential properties, large scale developers and paved surface contractors. "And the whole process can in some cases be done in half a day."

Childers then showed me some photos from a recent home foundation stabilization project in the metro Dallas area. Trained workers use a long tool device… that looks like a pipe with a T-handle on the top… which forces the EcSS 3000 solution down into the ground. The solution, which is non-toxic and environmentally safe, permanently and irreversibly binds the clay soil at the molecular level… meaning that the clay soil no longer expands or contracts, thus stopping the sinking and cracking of the foundation. The same is done with parking lots and roadways, but, obviously, on a larger scale. All of these claims are backed by very extensive and impressive technical case studies and university research. "Would you roll back the clock to stop the devastation of a hurricane… or flood?" Childers asked, metaphorically. "Of course you would… but we just don't have the technology to do that yet. But with expansive clay soils… there is an inexpensive and easy to implement solution that can save homeowners and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars a year in unnecessary damage, lost time and repair costs by simply stabilizing the expansive clay soil under existing developments and new construction. We're really proud to have that solution to offer."

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For more information about ESSL and their EcSS 3000 expansive clay soil stabilization product, go to esslsoils.com. Gaylon Childers and the ESSL Team can be reached in Burleson, TX at (817) 426-8000. Michael David McGuire is a New York-based freelance writer covering new technology issues. McGuire can be reached at (323) 656-3000.


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