So you have discovered a crack in your home’s foundation. You’re all jittery and wondering whether it’s a harmless crack or a bad crack that can cause water damage or moisture problem. You’re not alone. Hundreds of Florida homeowners face a similar problem.
While the concrete foundation is a strong system that’s built to last for many years, some situations arise that will cause cracks. This is why it’s important to inspect your foundation walls regularly. The reason is cracks tend to worsen over time, so getting a contractor to do a crack inspection and to carry out necessary foundation repairs should be your top priority.
What Causes Foundations to Crack?
If your concrete foundation has cracked, it’s natural for you to want to know what caused it. Cracks are formed in many ways, including concrete shrinkage, settlement of the home and application of hydrostatic pressure on the walls. Some of the possible reasons why cracks occur in the foundation are as follows:
Shrinking soil is the #1 culprit (especially if you live in a dry area). When soil shrinks, it will leave gaps in the foundation. These gaps will cause your concrete foundation to move, resulting in cracks. Expansive soil, which has the opposite effect, can also cause your soil to expand and push up your foundation, causing it to crack too.
Hydrostatic pressure is another major cause of foundation cracks in Florida-area homes. It occurs when the foundation has little to no drainage for water. Because of this, water will build up and exert pressure on the walls, leading to cracks and water leaks.
Large trees near your house also interfere with the foundation walls. Their roots can sneak under the perimeter and suck moisture out of the soil, causing your foundation to crack.
When you build a foundation using poor materials and without testing the soil, you’re actually setting up your foundation to crack. Adding a new level to your home makes it heavy, and this has a direct impact on your foundation too.
Given that all these factors endanger your foundation, it is important for you to stay alert so you can deal with them effectively. Don’t ignore even a minor crack. It could be a sign of underlying foundation problems in your home.
Types of Foundation Cracks
Before you repair foundation cracks or undertake any basement waterproofing, it’s essential to know what you’re up against. The reason is that there are several types of foundation cracks.
- Vertical cracks: They’re quite common in Orlando and will occur after a few years. While these cracks won’t cause structural problems in your home, they will let in water to seep through to the floor. If you notice them, contact your basement repair contractor to fix these cracks. They will most likely use an epoxy injection to seal them.
- Horizontal cracks: These types of cracks are a sign of an unstable foundation, which occurs because of inward bowing. If your home is heavy, it will accelerate the cracks. Cracks of this type are often caused by excessive rain water collecting around the perimeter of the foundation. When this water freezes, the moist ground will exert force into the foundation, moving it inward.
- Stair step cracks: These cracks are found on the exterior wall and above the foundation. Their appearance could signal a shift or settlement in the foundation. Stair-stepping occurs when bricks or blocks in the foundation separate. While they pose less structural risks than horizontal cracks, they should still be a cause for concern to any homeowner. In older homes, they’re a major cause of leaking.
Why Should I Fix Foundation Cracks?
Cracking in the foundation is an open invitation for water to seep in and can cause severe water damage. The cost of foundation repairs and remediation can run into thousands of dollars. Some cracks won’t leak right away. While that’s the case, it’s important to pay attention to these.
Horizontal cracks can also cause serious structural instability. Left to sit, they could cause your house to collapse. In case your basement develops a horizontal crack, contact your foundation repair contractor immediately.
Cracks also create an opening for pests and insects like mice and termites to come to your home. When they do, they can damage your furniture, joists, beams, and clothing. Removing them isn’t just going to be a real hassle, but a costly affair.
If you intend to sell your home in the foreseeable future, it’s important for you to fix foundation cracks and other similar issues. Failure to do so could affect the value of your property and discourage potential buyers.
What’s the Best Way to Fix Foundation Cracks?
The right repair method depends on the underlying issue or root cause of the crack. Your local contractor will come and inspect your basement or foundation floor and wall to determine the kinds of cracks they’re up against.
If the foundation wall has bowed inward or shifted, wall anchors can help stabilize the foundation wall and stop it from shifting inward. If the foundation has dropped, foundation underpinning can stop further vertical settlement. For cosmetic cracks, epoxy injection will suffice.
Don’t buy time or develop a wait-and-see attitude with your cracks. Even a crack that seems small and inconsequential at first can become bigger and cause problems later on. Schedule a free foundation crack inspection with your local contractor today and find a lasting fix to the problem.