Different Types of Soil Testing for Construction Sites

Soil testing is an essential practice for construction crews because it can help determine whether a structure is safe to build on the work site. However, there are several different types of soil testing for construction sites that crews must use before breaking ground. Get to know what these tests entail, the methods used, and why they’re important to your building process.

Specific Gravity Test

A specific gravity soil test shows the ratio of density to the density of the water in the soil. You use this ratio to calculate saturation levels, soil density, void ratio, and other soil properties. There are multiple different methods to find this ratio, including the shrinkage limit method, measuring flask, or gas jar.

Dry Density Test

Once you find the specific gravity and void ratio, you can test for dry density or the weight of the soil particles in a sample. Construction crews use this test to determine if the soil in your specific location is dense, medium dense, or loose. The most common methods for testing the dry density are sand replacement and core cutter methods. This is an essential test because soil conditions affect auger boring and other job duties that include digging into the earth. Therefore, it can help a crew decide which equipment is appropriate depending on the soil density.

Moisture Content Test

One of the most important types of soil testing for construction sites is the moisture content test. The reason this test is so important is that it shows the viability of supporting a construction building on the soil. Too much moisture would mean a structure could potentially collapse. The best method to use for this test includes the oven-drying method. In it, you weigh a soil sample, dry it at 110 degrees, and weigh it again to measure how much moisture is in the soil.

Atterberg Limits Test

When your work site has fine-grain soil, you need to use an Atterberg limits test to measure the critical water content in this soil. To find the properties of this soil, you look for three limits: the liquid, plastic, and shrinkage limits.

The shrinkage limit helps you find how much water content is necessary to fill the soil’s voids. The plastic limit determines how much moisture content the soil can take before you can no longer mold it without breaking it. And the liquid limit tests to see the moisture content and how well the soil flows like a liquid. These tests help a construction crew determine the validity of fine-grain soil for supporting a structure.

Remember, for your testing to show accurate results, you must take a great sample of the soil on the work site. Not all soil is the same or could support a structure, so soil testing is paramount to the construction process.

By Dianne Pajo

Dianne Pajo is a writer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.