5 Types of Soil Testing for a Building Construction Site

Posted on: 16 July 2020

The quality of the soil in a construction site plays an important role in your project. Therefore, it's important to identify the soil characteristics in order to determine the soil's ability to support the structure. Soil testing enables you to assess the soil's suitability, providing you with crucial data used for informed planning and decision making. The process involves testing the soil's geotechnical and chemical properties. 

Soil testing in a construction site identifies the various types of soil and their location, strength, density, contamination, compaction, organic content and sand content. The soil tester then assesses the soil's effect on the construction project.

Here are 5 important types of soil testing for a construction site. 

Moisture Content

This is probably the single most important geotechnical test. It provides all the information about the water content of the soil. The results of this test have a direct impact on the foundation of your construction. 

The moisture content in the soil is determined by several methods. These include the oven-drying, torsion balance, calcium carbide, Pycnometer, sand batch, alcohol and radiation methods. The most commonly used method in testing soil moisture content is the oven drying method. It involves weighing the soil sample, drying it at a certain temperature and then weighing it again.

The difference between the before and after weights indicates the weight of the moisture in the soil. 

Specific Gravity Test

The specific gravity of a substance is the ratio of its density to that of water. The gravity of the soil refers to the ratio of unit weight of solid soil to that of water.  It uses one of several methods, including the density bottle, gas jar, Pycnometer, shrinkage limit and measuring flask methods. The most commonly used are the Pcynomether methods and density bottle method. 

Dry Density Test

This test provides the weight of soil in the volume of a soil sample. It allows the soil to be categorized under loose, medium dense and dense soil classifications. The less dense the soil is, the stronger your foundation needs to be. 

The dry density value depends on the soil's specific gravity and the void ratio. This test is conducted using one of three methods, including the core cutter, sand replacement andwater displacement methods. 

Atterberg Limits Tests

This test is conducted on fine-grained soil to determine its critical water content. Some of the limits that determine the properties of fine-grained soil under various conditions include the plastic limit, shrinkage limit and liquid limit. 

Compaction Test

This test provides the compaction properties of soil by reducing the air voids in the soil through densification. The results of this test reveal the optimum water content and dry density of the compacted soils.

The results from the soil testing methods act as inputs used to suggest the foundation type of a building. While the soil testing process in construction is long, failing to do it can result in a failed building structure. 

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