Can Hills/Slopes Move? And Why?

By Justin Sexton

Can Hills/Slopes Move? And Why?


The term used for this movement is downhill creep, also known as soil creep, slope creep or just creep. It’s the slow downward progression of rock and soil down a low grade slope.


As slope on a hill increases, the gravitational force that is perpendicular to the slope decreases, and results in less friction between the material that could cause the slope to slide.


The presence of water could help the hillside stay put and give it cohesion, but in a very wet environment (or during/after a large amount of precipitation) the pores between the grains can become saturated with water, and cause the ground to slide.


Creep can also be caused by the expansion of materials such as clay. Expansive clay is a soil that is susceptible to swelling and shrinking when they are exposed to water. Clay expands when wet, then contracts after drying. This cycle of shrinkage and swelling places repetitive stress on structures, and damage worsens over time. 


Slope creep often results in damage to a house over time.  The damage may be: foundation or framing damage, sewer line damage, roof damage, as well as, doors and window sticking, garage floor and slab cracks, cracks in swimming pools and spas, etc.


When your home sits on a lot that has slope creep, the entire home usually moves or shifts, not just one small portion. 



Homeowners seldom think about slope creep because it happens so slowly, usually over a number of years. When it does come to their attention, it’s because of problems that are occurring in their house. Indications of structure movement are: floors sloping/not level, cracks in foundation, doors/windows sticking, drywall cracks, roof wavy or bowed, cracked and damaged underground sewer lines. One of the more common signs that homeowners may notice is when there is a concrete patio slab poured against the house and there is a larger than normal gap between the patio slab and the foundation. One that was smaller at one point in time.

If you think you may be having these types of problems at your home, give us a call!

Tags: Causes

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