What is Soil Testing?

A solid foundation is the cornerstone of any successful construction project. In order to create a sustainable base for your build, you have to analyze the exact qualities and engineering parameters of the soil at your intended site. Understanding the elements and conditions present at your site will help to chart the course for the rest of the project. So, what is soil testing? Soil testing is when a geotechnical engineer visits your site to acquire and test soil samples. Tests will reveal the characteristics, nature, and reactivity of soil.

Soil reactivity accounts for changes in ground composition under varying conditions. If the soil at your site swells in wet conditions and shrinks when the ground is dry, the structural engineer will need that information to effectively design the foundation, footings, and slabs of the build. Soil testing will also reveal the density, compaction, sand content, and any contaminants present at the site. Learn more about what soil testing is with our expert team below!

How to Get Soil Samples for Analysis

Whether you are taking on a personal home build or a major construction project, the importance of understanding the site conditions remain the same. The safety, durability, and longevity of your build depend upon a thorough understanding of elements on site, and a design to accommodate. Working with professionals like Central Geotechnical Services, LLC is the best way to start. Our team can provide consultation at every stage of your project, including guidance on how to get soil samples for analysis, design guidance, and will represent your best interest during construction to ensure the contractor is building as specified.

soil samples

Who Conducts Soil Testing? What Are They Looking For?

A geotechnical engineer is the specialist needed to perform soil testing. A geotechnical engineer must have a degree in civil engineering, hold a State-issued License, and have passed the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Fundamentals of Engineering exam, then the Professional Engineer (PE) Exam after at least four years of professional work. Now that you know who is required to conduct soil testing, you may want to know more about what they are testing for and how.

As noted above, the geotechnical engineer will be studying soil conditions at a job site for strength, density, and quality. Borings may be drilled at multiple locations across the site as soil composition can vary across the same project. In many cases, the samples will be tested and subjected to lab analysis to gain a clear picture of the subsurface conditions on site. These tests, along with site inspections, aim to identify any potential issues with the soil quality on site with respect to the type of project being built, and where it is located. Along with noting potential hazards, a geotechnical engineer is tasked with providing recommendations to overcome any issues related to the foundation.

Compaction Testing of Soil at a Job Site

When high load structures are being constructed, understanding the stability of the soil is critical. Soil compaction is a technique used to increase the strength and solidity of the ground on site. Compaction tests of soil are typically conducted during cosntruction on site, and based on predetermined lab test called a Proctor. This lab analysis tests a soil sample from the site to identify the maximum achievable density, and how the soil reacts to varying conditions, such as moisture. Compaction tests of soil at the site can be done in a variety of ways, including:

  • Nuclear Test
  • Balloon Densometer
  • Sand Cone Test

Regardless of method, soil compaction tests aim to increase stability, safety, and longevity of a build by understanding the site conditions. These results will frame the trajectory of a project, especially where the foundation design is concerned.

What is Sieve Analysis of Soil?

Another test that may be conducted on samples taken from a job site is a sieve analysis. What is a sieve analysis of soil? This test is done to determine the size distribution of particles on site. The size distribution of various ground elements ranging from sand to granite, and anything in between, can play a critical role in determining how the elements will perform in use. The properties of the soil will be identified to determine if they can support the intended structure, and any mechanical modifications that are needed to move forward with the project.

Turn to Central Geotechnical Services, LLC for Guidance

Now that you know the basics of how to get soil samples for analysis, what geotechnical engineers are looking for, and the importance of understanding subsurface soil conditions, you can turn to Central Geotechnical Services, LLC for further consultation. We are eager to educate and provide insight into the process of site investigation.

If you want to learn more about construction oversight, compaction tests of soil at a site, what kinds of lab testing we perform, and more, reach out to Central Geotechnical Services, LLC. We would love to start a conversation about your upcoming project!