Your foundation literally supports your entire house, so you have to make sure it is sound. Not only do cracks in your foundation look bad, but they can also lead to the eventual loss of structural integrity, which can mean high-cost repairs. Take a look at your foundation now to check for any cracks that need to be repaired. The faster you fix cracks before they can grow, the easier and cheaper the repairs will be.
In most cases, you can determine what is causing foundation cracks by the cracks themselves. Settling soil usually causes horizontal cracks and can be thin or wide, depending on the extent of the soil movement. This is usually the most common reason for foundation cracking.
The second most common cause is excessive moisture around the foundation. Too much moisture can lead to water infiltrating the concrete and seeping through to the other side inside your basement, which can spell problems as well. As the water works its way into the concrete, the pressure inside the foundation wall can lead to cracking. In addition, soil swells when it is wet, which creates excess pressure and stress on concrete. Cracks from water usually are vertical or diagonal.
Thin hairline cracks can usually be repaired with a vinyl concrete patching compound. If recommended by the manufacturer, apply a concrete bonding adhesive or primer/additive to create the best bond possible between the old surface and the patching material. Use an old or inexpensive paintbrush to work the liquid into the crack and around the crack edges. Wash the brush immediately after use with soap and water or discard it.
If you can, paint the inside of the crack with the thinner cement mixture. This will act like a primer. Then pack the paste mixture firmly into the crack with a putty knife or trowel. Level the mixture with a straight-edged concrete-finishing trowel. Let the patch sit undisturbed for about an hour, then go over the entire surface with a float or trowel in a circular motion, blending it well with the surrounding surface.
You can also use hydraulic cement to fill in cracks, using a putty knife. Following package instructions, mix hydraulic cement with water in a bucket. Use a trowel to mix it and combine the two until the mix is homogenous. Dampen the crack by misting it with water from a spray bottle then push the hydraulic cement mixture into the crack with a putty knife. Let this dry for an hour or two then add another layer of cement mixture over the crack. Use a trowel to make the cement patch level and smooth with the wall surface.
Now that the crack has been filled and the patch has set or dried, you're ready to apply waterproof masonry sealer to the foundation walls. This will protect the concrete from any water infiltration. Existing paint and coatings must be removed from the surface and the concrete must be able to absorb water. For the best results, apply the sealer with a brush directly to the patch. The second coat can be applied with a large brush or masonry roller. Work sealant thoroughly onto the patch and around it by a few inches to 1' to ensure a proper seal.
The most common type of foundation crack repair is interior epoxy injections. This solution involves sealing up foundation cracks with epoxy and polyurethane crack injections. The method is both reliable and cost-effective if done professionally. However, epoxy injection repairs when originally issues is not diagnosed properly, a low-quality epoxy is used or repair is made incorrectly.
Structural foundation cracks pose a serious threat to the structural integrity of homes. The repair method involves a combination of carbon fiber countersunk staples and epoxy injections depending on the severity of the crack.
Renco Tip: Foundation weeping title drains can get clogged causing foundation crack and water issues. If you suspect an issue get a weeping tile inspection which can save your foundation from future issues.
Yes, and they usually are no reason to panic. In fact, most cracks in a poured concrete foundation are a natural result of foundation settlement and shrinkage of the concrete during the curing process and can be easily fixed or simply left alone. But if the cracks are abnormally large or allowing seepage to enter the home, they are often a sign of a more serious structural problem.
Here are a number of factors that can lead to cracks in concrete foundations, so determining the cause is not always clear-cut. Often a combination of issues are at play. (See Why Does Concrete Crack?):
Any crack that goes all the way through a foundation wall has the potential to leak if the conditions are right. If you have multiple cracks, some will provide less resistance to water than others and are likely to leak first. You can take preventive measures to help protect from water intrusion, such as using downspout extensions and regrading the soil to direct rainwater away from the foundation. However, if a crack leaks once, it will probably leak again until the crack is sealed.
It all depends on the work being done. Smaller jobs involving the sealing of one or two cracks may only be a few hundred dollars. Larger jobs involving extensive crack repair and structural remediation can run into the thousands of dollars. Be sure to get an estimate from several reputable foundation repair contractors before making a decision.
Possibly, if the crack is minor and the repair is purely for aesthetic reasons. However, a small foundation crack can become larger over time, so it's important to contact a professional with a trained eye to assess the problem and determine the cause. The repair of serious cracks are best left to an expert, who will know the best repair materials and procedures to use.
If you are unsure about your foundation cracks, monitor them to see if they are increasing in size. Simply use a pencil to mark off and date the ends of each crack. Within a period of time, you will be able to tell if the crack is due to natural settling or if it indicates a more serious problem. Tracking them will also help foundation repair experts determine how the cracks formed and the best way to fix them.
Usually, a diagonal or vertical crack in the foundation wall is the result of settling in the concrete foundation and is quite common in new construction. Because concrete shrinks while it cures, these cracks are called shrinkage cracks. They usually run vertically or diagonally, are often located in the middle section of walls and are less than 1/8 of an inch wide.
Frequently you will find vertical cracks in block foundations. If the crack is located closer to a corner and is wider than 1/8 of an inch, it is probably not due to shrinkage but indicates a more serious foundation issue. If your vertical foundation crack is wider than 1/8 of an inch, call a professional to get it inspected as it may be a cause for concern.
Horizontal cracks often indicate a more serious problem. Hydrostatic (water) pressure from the outside of the walls is often the cause, and that can lead to foundation failure. Most foundations are designed to handle the pressure of water and soil. Additional pressure due to heavy rains or flooding can create serious horizontal cracks that need repairs as soon as possible.
Fortunately, most foundation issues can be repaired. At Airlift Concrete Experts, we specialize in foundation lifting using polyurethane foam. Foundations may be considered beyond repair if the cost to restore it does not add enough value to the home. Although very uncommon, this sometimes occurs when a foundation has completely collapsed and the damage to the home is irreversible.
Airlift Concrete Experts have professional solutions to fix your vertical foundation cracks once and for all. If you have small cracks and/or water seepage, we can use epoxy injections to repair a diagonal or vertical crack. Once a crack is large enough to insert a dime, you may have a foundation problem and you will need to invest in structural repairs.
Horizontal cracks on foundation walls often indicate serious problems that may eventually lead to complete foundation wall failure. If the soil around your home is not properly graded and drained, water will eventually saturate the ground around the foundation walls and increase the hydrostatic (water) pressure. If the pressure exceeds the weight-bearing capacity of the walls, it could cause them to crack or bow. Properties with clay soils that expand and contract significantly are particularly vulnerable to lateral pressure on their walls.
One of the best methods used for crack repair is epoxy injections. Epoxy injection is a system that welds the crack back together. It restores the original strength and loading of the original concrete. Epoxy injections also restore the design and structural quality and make the concrete seem as good as new. The epoxy seal makes the foundation impervious seal to air, water, chemicals, debris, and other contaminants.
In the New Hampshire and Massachusetts areas, the three main types of foundations we generally see are traditional poured concrete, block foundations, and what are called stone, or fieldstone, foundations. Other homes are also built on slabs. No matter what material your homes foundation may be composed of, one of the forms of cracks mentioned above may be visible somewhere within it's walls.
Perhaps the most common cause of cracks in a concrete foundation are formed as the concrete cures. This occurs when there is excess water used in the concrete mix, if the concrete dries too quickly, or if the material or location is not properly prepared. While these types of cracks are common, not all of them are alarming and require immediate attention.
Other times, cracks form when the subgrade soil is not properly compacted, or if material such as trees or roots are buried beneath the foundation. The soil in such cases is vulnerable to sinking, shifting or expanding, which means a lot of pressure is added to the foundation directly, rather than transferred into the earth surrounding the structure. 2b1af7f3a8