Florida is notorious for its unpredictable weather. Keeping a crawl space water-free in the area, as a result, is difficult.
Your home may be at risk for more, though, than just a leak. Long-term exposure to standing water and water damage can cause your foundation to crack. That lack of stability will do more than lower the value of your home – it’ll make it more difficult for you to maintain the house.
How, though, can you determine whether or not your foundation has cracked? Take a look at the signs of foundation cracks below, as well as the different kinds of cracks, to determine what your situation may be and how you can best combat it.
Foundation Cracks: A Catalog
Not all foundation cracks are created equal. Your foundation, if it’s fallen victim to a crack, may have any of the following:
- Vertical cracks. If your home is on the newer side, it may fall victim to the vertical foundation crack. These cracks often appear when water interacts with green wood or wood that was harvested before it had time to stiffen and age. If you’re dealing with a vertical crack, you may notice the walls of your crawl space bowing under the pressure of your home or the land surrounding it.
- Horizontal cracks. If your home is built on a concrete or brick foundation, then you may have to deal with a horizontal crack. These cracks appear when your home is settling. Fluctuations in temperature can cause your foundation to grow and shrink unevenly, thus resulting in these sorts of cracks.
- Diagonal cracks. If your home settles unevenly, you’ll have to deal with a diagonal crack instead of a horizontal one.
All of these cracks are worthy of concern, especially when you’re trying to keep your crawl space from flooding.
The Causes Behind Foundation Cracks
As mentioned, foundation cracks have many causes. Most of the time, though, the weaker parts of your foundation will crack due to changes in the weather and temperature. As the weather warms up, the particles that make up your foundation grow larger. As the weather cools, those particles shrink. When the weather starts to fluctuate, your home may not be able to keep up with the many particle changes going on in the foundation. Pair that stress with the additional stress groundwater and soil can put on your foundation, and you’re looking at a prime site for damage.
Non-Crack Signs of a Faulty Foundation
You may not be able to spot all of your foundation cracks via sight alone. Keep an eye out for some of the following symptoms. If you see them individually or in groups, but you’re not able to determine how water is getting into your home, you may have a foundational crack on your hands.
- Pest infestations. If you notice animal droppings or nesting in your crawl space, you’re dealing with an infestation. That’s not all you’re going to have on your hands, though. If Orlando’s rain comes down before you’ve dealt with your infestation and you have an untreated crack in your foundation, you may have to deal with flooding as well.
- Mold clusters. Mold loves nothing more than a dark and damp crawl space. If you suspect you have a crack in your foundation, keep a keen eye out for mold clusters. If you spot one, you’re going to want to treat it as quickly as possible. With the cluster eliminated, you’ll be able to speak to a contractor about preventive measures and foundation sealing.
- Unpleasant smells. Have you been dealing with unpleasant smells without knowing where they’re coming from? If you’ve tried every other solution, you may want to check your crawl space. Long-term exposure to water can make your stored belongings and foundational supports start to stink.
- Decreasing crawl space temperatures. The more water vapor enters the air, the more difficult it is for your home’s temperature control to maintain a consistent temperature throughout your home. If your electric bill is on the rise, or if your crawl space is getting colder, it may be time to check for a crack in your foundation.
- Water damage. As you might expect, a flooded crawl space or a crawl space with signs of water damage (curling paper products, damaged fabrics, warping wood) has fallen victim to a leak, at a minimum. If you can’t immediately find the source of the leak, reach out to a local consultant to determine whether or not water’s getting into your home via your foundation.
How to Prevent Foundation Cracks
There are several different avenues you can take if you want to prevent your foundation from cracking. One of these includes waterproofing your foundation and crawl space as both are being built. You can talk to a local contractor to discuss the waterproofing options you have available to you during these early stages.
If you’re buying a pre-built home, though, you may want to consider the following preventative steps:
- Water your lawn. Like the particles of your foundation, the soil around your home contracts and grows between rains and droughts. If you water your lawn, you’ll maintain the state of your soil and keep it from shrinking to the point where water can easily reach your foundation.
- Clean your gutters. It’s a chore, of course, but cleaning your gutters will keep precipitation from raining straight down onto the perimeter of your home.
- Plant your landscape with care. Some plants quickly gather up excess water and prevent it from reaching your foundation. Trees, however, have vast root systems that can compromise the structural integrity of your home if they’re planted too close to your perimeter.
Don’t let rain make it harder for you to live in your Florida dream home. Reach out to a local contractor for a free inspection and estimate to see what foundation repair solutions are available to you.