Indiana News

Oklahoma Soil Causing Basement Dilemma

Many Sooners Have No Basement


Modern building techniques have long since addressed the problem but it was once almost impossible to build homes and businesses in Oklahoma with basements.


Much of the Sooner State has soil with a high content of clay. That prevents water from receding and it creates expansion and contraction to puts pressure on basement walls. There is also a risk of troublesome mold and fungus.

That creates a serious problem for a state which is susceptible to tornadoes. Homes, businesses and schools without basements may offer no effective refuge.

"Of course a basement is a hold in the ground," says Mark Ralph, owner of the Indianapolis waterproofing company Americrawl. "It wants to get wet. If the water cannot recede in the soil then it's going to find a basement cavity to enter."

The mayor of Moore, Oklahoma--where the storm leveled two schools--is proposing a municipal ordinance requiring that new home construction include an underground "safe room" if not a full basement.

"They are reinforced and at least a place to go," says Ralph. "But I wouldn't think that would be considered a part of the home, as far as the structure itself."

Ralph says it's possible to build a full basement in Oklahoma, with poured concrete walls and a high-tech polymer coating. But for some, he said, the cost would be prohibitive.


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