When we think of landslides, we can typically imagine something out of a movie: huge walls of mud blazing a warpath of destruction. But the truth is, landslides come in all shapes and sizes and believe it or not, they can happen right in your own backyard.
Some of the major factors causing your garden variety, residential landslide include:
- Heavy precipitation
- Faulty Building Practices
- Rapid temperature changes (e.g. freezing and thawing)
- Natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes and volcanic eruptions)
- Extreme weather, such as periods of heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt
- Areas with no topsoil or shrubbery, or that have been burned by wildfires, are vulnerable to landslides
Before a landslide happens, there are signs that your property may be at risk. Be sure to monitor for significant changes such as stormwater runoff patterns, land movements, or major shifts. You should also look for gaps between exterior walls, walkways or stairs, and watch for skewed fences or trees, doors or windows beginning to stick, new cracks in foundations or structural elements (plaster, tile, brick), bulging soil near hills or slopes or water breaking through in uneven areas.
Potential landslide damage
As more trees are removed to accommodate growing populations, there is more runoff during rainfall and less water can be absorbed by the soil. This can lead to pits and springs on your property, which can cause deteriorating erosion and eventually landslide damage.
Some of the most common landslides include:
- Pollution. A landslide can damage sewer systems, fisheries and other public water access areas, causing pollution and impacting entire communities. A critical aspect of landslide/erosion control services is drainage and stormwater management. Aside from human use, excess water is the main cause of landslides. To best combat both problems, it can be critical to build a retaining wall or use landscaping methods to control runoff and prevent potential contamination.
- Weakened slopes/retaining walls. Landslides caused by erosion can do quite a bit of damage to the overall structural integrity of your property. Keep a close eye on these structures to make sure there are no excessive drainage or weakening structures.
- Destruction of the foundation. Poor drainage of rainwater can cause significant foundation or subsidence. If you notice uneven or sagging floors or significant water buildup around your foundation, it’s critical to contact a foundation repair expert to assess existing damage and create a plan to correct existing problems.
Injury – In addition to property damage and pollution, severe landslides also carry a risk of personal injury. Unstable or weakened structures are a hotbed for accidents, so keep this in mind when looking at the condition of your property.
How to prevent landslides at home?
Foot traffic and human use are typically the largest contributors to erosion and landslides. Over time, home projects and other routine activities can put your property through the ringer. The good news is that there are some very simple things you can do to prevent wear and tear.
- Reuse garden waste. Leaves or loose gravel can be used to create drainage on any slopes or earthen support structures.
- Diverting rainwater. If you see rainwater accumulating or puddles, make sure to direct it away from sloping areas or slopes
Irrigation/installation of vegetation: While irrigation is good, be careful not to install irrigation systems, water sources, or pools near hills or sloping areas. Plant vegetation or use gravel on slopes or earthen structures that need extra support.
Using Temporary Landslide Protection: Sandbags, plastic sheeting, tarpaulins and even burlap can be used to divert water from uncontrolled spills and to protect unstable areas.
Professional Landslide Prevention Techniques
In many cases, professional intervention is required. If you notice major damage to your existing structures or property, you may need to contact an expert to assess your options.
A professional may recommend installing:
Concrete retaining walls: Concrete blocks fit together without the need for mortar. The soil is then packed tightly behind it to prevent weakening and collapse. Concrete retaining walls easily form bends, which is typically a requirement for this stabilization approach.
Steel beam/pipe pile retaining walls: These are often applied on extreme slopes where a concrete wall is too expensive. The steel beams are usually placed in a pre-drilled hole and encased in concrete.
GeoGrid Systems: GeoGrid textiles are a cost-effective approach to rebuilding slopes that have previously failed due to a landslide or mudslide.
Drainage systems: For properties with poor drainage, a professional may recommend relocating the surface and/or underwater drainage. Stormwater management is a very important part of landslide control services and poor drainage or water management is often the main culprit in landslides.
About United Drilling
Unlimited Drilling & Foundations Inc. was founded in 1993. Over the past 28 years, the company has completed thousands of foundation repair, slope stabilization and drainage systems projects in Southern California.