Your home’s foundation is a critical part of the building’s overall stability. If you have a cracked foundation, this can lead to major structural problems throughout the property. Knowing what causes house foundation cracks is important when it comes to prevention and foundation crack repair actions. Since your foundation is such an important aspect of your home, it’s usually best to work with a qualified contractor with experience in foundation crack repair to address any issues.
Typical Foundation Construction
The most common type of foundation is made of a concrete slab. The construction team starts by digging out the soil where the foundation will go. Then, they level the soil and pour the concrete for the foundation.
In warmer climates, the concrete is poured as one thick, uniform slab that functions as the overall footing for the house. In colder climates, the construction team digs out footings around the perimeter in order to reach below the frost line, then pours a thin slab of concrete that creates the basement floor but doesn’t support the building structurally.
Common Causes of Cracks in Basement Floor Foundation
If everything goes perfectly when the foundation is poured, you’re not likely to have many issues with cracks. However, the skill of the team that pours the foundation, as well as their attention to detail, can have a big impact.
We don’t usually think of concrete as a delicate material, but, when poured, the conditions have to be just right in order to get an optimal result. If the concrete mix contains too much water, the foundation will not be as strong as it should be once it dries. The same holds true if the concrete mix has to be re-hydrated prior to being poured.
What Happens with a Weak Foundation?
If the foundation footing is compromised, you may end up with either hairline or major cracks. In many cases, hairline cracks present more of a cosmetic issue rather than indicating a structural problem. Larger cracks, though, can signal big trouble for your home. You’ll need to call a basement contractor if you have:
- Cracks more than three-sixteenths inches wide or high
- Cracks that let in water
- Cracks that get worse
- Cracks that reappear after repairs
If left untreated, these types of cracks can, over time, lead to structural instability and damage throughout your home. If the foundation can’t support the building evenly, the rest of the building is put under strain. Floors may slope, door– and window frames may crack, and gaps may appear between baseboards and floor level.
What You Can do to Prevent a Cracked Foundation
In addition to making sure that the concrete for your foundation is poured correctly, there are some other actions you can take to help prevent cracks and general foundation damage. These include:
- Maintaining gutters and downspouts and ensuring that water flows away from your foundation
- Keep trees away from the house so that roots don’t interfere with the foundation
- Install plants 1–2 feet away from the edge of the house to help keep water away from the foundation
- Slope the ground around the house to encourage water to drain away from the property
While none of these actions guarantee that you won’t experience foundation cracks or damage, they all help! You can also ask your basement contractor for other recommendations specific to your area in order to keep your foundation as healthy as possible.
If you need help with a cracked foundation in Rochester or the region, call the team at BelowDry Basement Waterproofing today. We are a family-owned company with over 15 years of experience in foundation crack repair. We’re committed to effectively repairing cracks and identifying the underlying cause so that we can help restore your foundation to optimal condition. Our team is fully licensed and insured and we offer both regular and emergency service for your convenience. BelowDry Basement Waterproofing—solving your wet basement problem for good!