Your foundation must be structurally sound to support the rest of your house. If your basement floors or foundation walls are cracked, find out how this might have happened, as well as what risks you face if you ignore the damage.
Causes of Basement Floor Cracks
A concrete foundation is liable to crack for three primary reasons:
- Shrinkage: As wet concrete dries, it shrinks. The temperature and humidity on the day your concrete foundation is poured can affect the likelihood of it cracking in the future. For instance, if the temperature drops rapidly during the curing process, cracks can occur. Likewise, a hot day can dry out the concrete too quickly, which also causes cracking. Even if the conditions are perfect, a small degree of shrinkage will occur over time. The good news is that cracks related to shrinking concrete rarely result in structural issues.
- Settlement: If the soil isn’t adequately compacted before pouring the concrete, the ground is liable to shift under the weight of the slab. Even if the ground is prepared properly, tree roots and basement leaks can lead to soil settlement and foundation cracks.
- Ground movement: The freeze/thaw cycle can wreak havoc on an otherwise perfect foundation slab. When soil freezes, it expands. Then, it shrinks again when it thaws. As with settling, this movement can lead to cracks.
Risks of Ignoring Cracks in the Basement Floor
If you notice your foundation is cracked, but you don’t do anything about it, here’s what could happen:
- Water intrusion: No matter the cause, any foundation crack can allow water to seep in from the outside, especially during times of heavy rain. Once moisture gets in, mold growth follows.
- Structural problem: It’s impossible to avoid all foundation cracks, especially those caused by shrinkage. Fortunately, small cracks don’t impair the structural integrity of your home. However, larger cracks caused by unstable soil or a settling foundation can result in gaps between the floor and walls, or between the walls and ceiling. Walls may even begin pulling away from each other. This could have damaging consequences for the rest of your house.
- Pest invasion: Small insects can enter your home through surprisingly small cracks. This is one reason why you might notice more bugs in the basement than in the rest of the house. If you’re not interested in sharing your home with creepy crawlies, keep an eye out for basement cracks, and fix them as soon as possible.
Fixing Basement Cracks is Not a DIY Job!
Sealing cracked concrete isn’t as easy as filling the gaps with epoxy. If the surrounding earth pushes against the repaired area, epoxy won’t prevent the crack from reopening and leaking. Different types of cracks require different repair methods, so for the best results, we advise leaving foundation crack repair to the professionals.