Why is the moisture content of soil important in construction?

April, 30 2021
Soil moisture is the weight or volume of water molecules around the soil's particles and is expressed as a percentage of the overall combined weight. Testing the ground for its moisture percentage is vital in determining a field's viability in supporting construction. The most crucial factor in civil engineering designs is the proper assessment of the water content of on-site soil because its mechanical reaction to weight loading ultimately depends on its moisture content at the time of building. Here are three key reasons to test your soil before commencing construction plans.  
  1. To determine its strength

  The ability to hold up a building is dependent on the soil's intrinsic parameters, such as density and moisture between its particles. Under normal conditions, construction soil is weakest when it is scorched. However, when there is a substantial amount of moisture within the soil, the tightly fitted water molecules provide added support and grip due to the formation of air-water interfaces. By establishing that the soil in your field contains enough moisture, you know how much weight it can sustain.  
  1. To determine its compaction

  Soils that are heavily compacted usually have less moisture content, less pore volume, and high density, a potent combination for construction. However, if you are undertaking road construction, minimal soil moisture is recommended. You need to have well-compacted soil before heading for a substructure or foundation because rolling dry soil is pointless. The reason is that it will not achieve the recommended density and is, therefore, susceptible to shrinkage after the heavy weight is added. To curb these consequences, you must establish the ground's moisture concentration before and during construction.  
  1. To establish the soil's Optimum Moisture Content capacity

  OMC is primarily used to gauge the amount of soil moisture required to achieve full soil compaction. Without establishing this factor, you could build a skyscraper only to find it leaning on one side because of further soil compaction later in time. The worst part about this is that it may not occur immediately during construction but manifest later when construction is complete, resulting in severe losses to the owner and threatening the occupants' lives. To avoid this mishap, you need to measure moisture content before making your first move.   For more information about the importance of soil testing and to see how our expert ground engineering consultants can help, contact G3Soilworks today.  

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