Typically when we think of landslides we may imagine something from 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 leading factors that trigger your garden-variety, residential landslide include:
- Heavy rainfall
- Faulty construction practices
- Rapid changes in temperature (e.g. freezing and thawing)
- Natural disasters (e.g. earthquake shaking, and volcanic eruptions)
- Extreme weather, such as periods of heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt
- Areas without topsoil or brush, or burned by forest fire are vulnerable to landslides
Before a landslide occurs there are signs that your property may be at risk. Make sure to keep tabs on any significant changes — such as patterns of storm-water drainage, land movement, or any major shifting. You should also look for gaps between outside walls, walks, or stairs and and keep an eye out for leaning fences or trees, doors or windows which have begun to stick, new cracks in foundations or structural elements (plaster, tile, brick), bulging ground area near hills or slopes or water breaking through in odd areas.
Potential Landslide Damage
As more trees are removed to accommodate growing populations, there’s more runoff during rainstorms and less water is able to be absorbed by the soil. This can lead to wells and springs on your property, which can cause worsening erosion and ultimately, landslide damage.
Some of the most common landslide damages include:
- Pollution. A landslide can cause damage to sewage systems, fisheries and other public water access areas which can lead to pollution, affecting entire communities. A critical aspect of landslide/erosion control services is drainage and stormwater management. Aside from human use, excess water is the leading cause of landslides. In order to best combat both issues, it may be critical to build a retaining wall or use landscaping methods to keep runoff in check and prevent potential pollution.
- Weakened slopes/retaining walls. Landslides caused by erosion can cause quite a bit of damage to the overall structural integrity of your property. Keep a close eye on these structures to make sure there isn’t excessive runoff or weakening structures.
- Foundation destruction. Poor stormwater drainage can cause significant foundation setting or sinking. If you notice uneven or sagging floors, or significant water pooling around your foundation, it’s critical to reach out to a foundation repair expert to assess existing damage and make a plan to correct existing issues.
Injury – Beyond property damage and pollution, severe landslides also carry a risk of personal injury. Unstable or weakened structures are a hotbed for accidents, so make sure to keep this in mind when accessing the condition of your property.
How to Prevent Landslides At Home
Foot traffic and human use is typically the largest contributor to erosion and landslides. Over time, home projects and other routine activities can put your property through the ringer. The good news is there are some really simple things you can do to help prevent wear and tear.
- Repurpose yard waste. Leaves or loose gravel can be used to create drainage on any slopes or earthen support structures.
- Redirect stormwater. If you notice stormwater pooling or puddling, make sure to redirect this away from sloping areas or hillsides
Irrigate/install vegetation: While irrigation is good, make sure to avoid installing any irrigation systems, water sources, or pools near hillsides or sloped areas. Plant vegetation or use gravel on slopes or earthen structures that need extra support.
Use temporary landslide protection: Sandbags, plastic sheeting, tarps, and even burlap can be used to divert water from uncontrolled spilling and protect unstable areas.
Professional Landslide Prevention Techniques
In many instances professional intervention is needed. If you notice extensive 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 lock together without requiring mortar. Soil is then tightly packed behind it to prevent weakening and collapse. Concrete retaining walls easily form curves which is typically a requirement of this stabilization approach.
Steel Beam/Pipe Pile Retaining Walls: These are often used 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 textile fabric is a cost-effective approach to rebuilding slopes that have previously failed due to a landslide or mudslide.
Draining Systems: For properties with poor drainage, a professional may recommend rerouting surface and/or underwater drainage. Stormwater management is a very important component of landslide control services and poor drainage or water management is often the main culprit in landslide events.
About Unilited 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.