Foundation and basement cracks can be extremely intimidating to homeowners. If you’re a homeowner dealing with foundation and basement cracks, there are many things you can do to make the process easier for yourself. However, first and foremost, you need to know a little bit about your foundation or basement and why you might be having these problems. Here’s everything you need to know about foundation and basement cracks in your own home.
Why Do Cracks Form in the Foundation and Basement?
There are many reasons you might experience foundation and basement cracks in your home. Here are the most prominent reasons that you may see foundation and basement cracks, so you can know the problems to look out for.
- Home Weight
One main reason for issues with the foundation and basement is if you have problems with the weight of your home. Specifically, it’s important to think about whether your foundation and basement can handle the weight of the home on top of it. Many foundations and basements have cracking problems specifically because of the weight of the home.
This is especially important to pay attention to if you’re planning to add something to your home. Sure, a marble countertop may look gorgeous in your kitchen, but do you know that the foundation or basement can handle the added weight from the marble countertop? Before you do anything in your home, make sure you do an inspection to ensure the added weight will not be too much for the foundation or basement.
- Hydrostatic Pressure
For many people, hydrostatic pressure is the main problem infesting their foundation or basement. Hydrostatic pressure, quite simply, is the pressure that water exerts when it’s at rest. When you’re dealing with hydrostatic pressure, it’s often because the water around your basement has built up to an alarming degree, causing too much weight to press against the basement walls.
This is where plenty of different fixes come into play. Hydrostatic pressure is an important thing to pay attention to. To an extent, it’s rather unavoidable if you have a basement, because the further down your basement goes, the more likely it is that water will press against the basement walls. However, you can institute certain safeguards to ensure the hydrostatic pressure isn’t enough to permanently damage the basement.
- Shifting and Settling
Many homes deal with shifting and settling concerns in their basement. Basements and foundations all need support from the soil they’re sitting on. If you don’t have that support, you’re more likely to end up with shifting and settling problems that can cause your foundation and basement to stop providing the necessary support.
For the most part, if you’re having settling and shifting problems, you’re going to need to do something that will increase the support in your basement or foundation. That may include lifting the concrete, adding support piers, and much more. The basis of these fixes simply has to do with making sure your basement or foundation isn’t unsupported.
What Are the Problems That Can Come with Foundation and Basement Cracks?
Some homeowners might not know whether foundation and basement cracks can have a significant impact on the home, which can lead to them not tackling the problem. Here are a few of the secondary issues you might experience if you don’t fix your foundation and basement cracks.
- Waterproofing Concerns
Possibly the biggest enemy of a basement is water. Water is one of the most frustrating things you can deal with in a basement because it’s such an overarching problem. Standing water is one of the biggest problems you can end up with, as it tends to introduce other water concerns into the basement or foundation.
Water is very heavy at about 62 pounds per cubic foot, and you cannot compress water to fit into a smaller space. That means water always needs somewhere to go, and if your basement doesn’t have enough support to avoid water coming through the walls, it can start cracking.
- Further Issues with Settling and Moving
Although settling and moving can be a cause of foundation and basement cracks, it can also be a problem that foundation and basement cracks create. That’s because when your foundation and basement start to crack, there’s no longer anything to tie the foundation and basement to the places where they’re supposed to be.
These settling and moving problems can then lead to issues like gaps between walls and floors, waterproofing concerns throughout the home, and floors that eventually fail due to a lack of support. This is exactly why foundation and basement cracks should be such a huge concern to you. Settling and moving is a gigantic problem that you can stop if you address it early enough.
- High Levels of Indoor Humidity
As a result of poor waterproofing, you’ll often end up with very high levels of indoor humidity. These high levels of indoor humidity come up from your basement or crawl space; almost 50% of the air in your home comes from below. If the air in your basement is damp, the air in your home will be as well.
These high levels of indoor humidity are a concern for homeowners. Perhaps the biggest concern here is mold and mildew; mold and mildew both tend to have serious impacts on the home as a whole, largely because they eat organic materials. However, you can also have other problems like sticking doors and windows, swelling door and window frames, and much more.
Foundation and basement cracks can occur for a variety of reasons. If you’re experiencing foundation and basement cracks, you might wonder why you’re having these problems. Here are a few of the reasons you might see foundation and basement cracks.
- Concrete Drying and Property Settling
Probably the least damaging reason that you might see cracks is just due to concrete drying. If you notice hairline cracks appear within the first year of a new concrete pour, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. As the concrete dries, it may form very tiny cracks along the surface of the concrete pour – this is perfectly normal and generally harmless.
It is also normal for new properties to ‘settle’ after construction. Settling, not to be confused with settlement, is also a perfectly normal and usually harmless process that may cause small cracks to appear. These cracks should be stable, however, meaning that they will not grow once the house has finished settling. If these cracks start to grow after a while, you should contact a professional to be on the safe side.
- Foundation Damage
Foundation settlement is one of the more damaging reasons you might see cracks, and it’s typically what’s happening if you’re seeing very serious foundation and basement cracks. Foundation settlement occurs when there’s not enough support underneath the foundation for some reason, and it can lead to a variety of fissures.
Likewise, foundation subsidence can lead to serious cracks opening up in your property’s floors and walls. Unlike settlement, which generally occurs with the soil under a home becoming too dry, subsidence is a process of uniform, if uneven, sinking. This process puts a strain on a property and causes cracks to form, walls to bow, and even gaps to open between the floor and walls.
Foundation and basement cracks don’t need to be extreme to be a problem. Some people think that only very significant cracks are a problem, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many types of foundation and basement cracks are a big issue.
- Hairline Cracks
This is the only type of crack that isn’t necessarily a problem. A hairline crack is very small, not even large enough to fit a business card into. These types of cracks can form for a variety of reasons, but as long as they don’t extend through the concrete, they’re not necessarily a problem. Still, if you’re starting to see a lot of them in a short period, you may want to call someone in to inspect.
Hairline cracks can be caused by several things, many of which are perfectly natural and non-harmful. The settling of a property, for example, or the reaction of concrete to changing temperatures can cause hairline cracks. However, they can also be a precursor to far more serious issues that will require inspection, so you should monitor known cracks.
- Any Other Foundation and Basement Cracks
Any cracks that aren’t hairline cracks are potentially a sign of a serious problem at work. If you’re seeing a foundation or basement crack, that is a sign that something is wrong. The problem isn’t the crack; the problem is whatever caused the crack to form in the first place. Foundation and basement cracks are always a problem.
At the heart of it, cracks are caused either by excessive pressure or by shifting in the structure of the property (usually a mix of both). This is why it is important to call a professional in to inspect growing cracks; there are so many potential causes to consider. From settlement, subsidence, and excessive hydrostatic pressure to flaws within the structure of a property, cracks really can come from anywhere.
Repairing foundation and basement cracks can be complicated. It’s not necessarily as easy as just applying a concrete patch, but that doesn’t mean the only thing you can do is completely replace the wall. Here are a few of the repairs that might work well for you.
- Helical Piers and Push Piers
Helical piers and push piers go underneath the foundation and help boost it. Known collectively as foundation piers, they are extremely beneficial for homes with foundation problems. They are often used to support homes that are sinking downward because they don’t have enough support. These piers go down into the ground, all the way to the bedrock, giving the home a stable foundation.
Push piers are the most common type of foundation pier; they rely on the weight of a property to properly ‘set’ them in place. This makes them less suitable for small or lightweight homes. In these cases, helical piers are far better as they are essentially ‘screwed’ into the soil, thereby spreading the weight of a property and securing themselves.
- Additional Support for the Walls
If you’re experiencing basement wall bowing, you’re going to need additional wall support of some kind to stabilize them and prevent further bowing or leaning. Getting that additional support can come from a variety of locations. You must maximize your basement wall support with expert-level fixes.
Wall anchors are a perfect example of support measures of damaged walls, but they are not the only solutions available. Carbon fiber reinforcement straps are an option for walls that are not badly damaged, while braces are suitable for almost any kind of wall (but are very hard to disguise). Talking to a professional will give you an idea of which measures are best for you.
- Support Structures from an Expert
The most important thing to keep in mind is that an expert will be able to assess the problem and give you the best solutions to fix it. Support structures vary dramatically, and the right structure for your problem should be a personalized choice that takes into account all of the underlying causes of damage. Talk to an expert to make sure you have the right support structure for your needs.
Having a professional assess your home will not only give you a deeper understanding of the forces at work within your home but will also give you a clear idea of how you can best repair and future-proof your property. This will help you to ensure that every repair undertaken is cost-effective and provides real value for money.
Fixing foundation and basement cracks is a process best left to the experts, like those at Foundation Recovery Systems. Here’s what you need to know about why you should opt for an expert when it comes to foundation and basement cracks.
- Complicated Process
First and foremost, fixing foundation and basement cracks is very complicated and requires specialized tools and skills. It’s not easy to do, and if you try to do it on your own, it’s possible to cause damage to your home or yourself. Because it’s so complicated, it’s better to leave it to an expert who knows how to handle the process.
After all, if you try to diagnose the problem alone you could very well miss some important signs and fail to take into account an important cause of damage. If this happens you will not succeed in fully repairing the damage. This will lead to the cracks recurring over time and could even let other problems percolate unnoticed.
- Potential Foundation Damage
If you mess up with typical DIY projects, the only thing that might happen is that you could waste some time and money. However, if you mess up while trying to fix foundation and basement cracks, or any structural problems, you could end up causing more damage to the foundation. That should be more than enough reason to choose an expert.
If you need a little more convincing, however, you should consider the fact that undertaking structural repairs can also be dangerous when you don’t have the right tools, skills, and knowledge. Tackling a bowing wall, for example, could lead to its collapse if you do not approach it properly and deploy the right repair and stabilization solutions.
How Can I Fix Cracks in the Foundation and Basement?
The solutions for your foundation and basement cracks are varied, and largely depend on where the cracks are as well as why you’re experiencing the cracks. Here are some of the most common fixes for your foundation and basement cracks.
- Manage Bowing Basement Walls
The cracks in the walls of a basement are going to be much different than the cracks you have on the floor. Most frequently, wall cracks stem from issues with hydrostatic pressure, which can cause the walls to “bow” inward and push inside the basement. That can then turn into other serious concerns throughout the basement.
The good news is that there are many ways to fix bowing basement walls. From straightening with wall anchors and the IntelliBrace™ system to reinforcing with carbon fiber supports, you can fix bowing basement walls no matter what you have access to or how serious the cracks in your walls are.
- Lift Concrete
What about if your concrete floors in the basement have sinking and settling problems? Concrete floors often have issues with sinking because of a lack of support underneath them. If you’re running into these types of problems, it’s important to make sure you’re managing your basement concrete floors with lifting processes.
The most effective method of lifting concrete that doesn’t have any extremely severe structural concerns is polyurethane foam injections. These injections can help you not just bolster your concrete but raise it back to its initial level. When you utilize polyurethane foam injections as part of your lifting process, you’ll be more likely to end up with a stronger concrete system.
- Install Better Window Waterproofing Measures
The windows in your basement may be a great place for water to come in if they don’t have the proper sealing structure. If you have basement windows, you need to make sure they’re as strong and effective at keeping out water as possible. Otherwise, you have a weak spot in your basement walls that can have serious repercussions.
This is where a basement repair expert can come in. You don’t necessarily have to remove the window in your basement to have a waterproofed basement. You just need to have a more effective window sealant and water management process. These measures are relatively easy to install as long as you have a basement repair expert come in and do so.
Make Your Foundation and Basement Healthier with the Help of a Foundation Repair Expert
As you can see, fixing foundation and basement cracks should be an important element of your basement and foundation repair process. However, it’s common for homeowners not to know what they’re doing when they first start on this process. This is why it’s important to contact a foundation repair expert at Foundation Recovery Systems for a free inspection and repair quote, and for help with your foundation and basement cracks.
Tackling foundation and basement cracks is an extremely important part of maintaining your home’s structural stability. If you’re experiencing foundation and basement cracks or any other problems in your home, you must manage your structural stability. A foundation repair expert from Foundation Recovery Systems will be able to help you do exactly that.
View more Basement Waterproofing Solutions