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If you find a crack in your basement wall it needs to be repaired. Here are 10 quick tips about basement wall repair to help you know what you may be dealing with and how to handle it.
1.) No foundation crack is OK to ignore.
Foundation cracks let in water, soil gases, insects, rodents, and (it is worth repeating) water. Water even in the form of moisture, vapor, humidity or an active leak can cause serious damage in the way of mold, mildew, and rot. Even a hairline crack can let in water that can cause these problems.
2.) Some cracks are structural some are not.
Not every foundation crack means that your house is ready to collapse. Some cracks are not structural, meaning they weren’t caused by a moving foundation. Nonstructural cracks can be caused by hydrostatic pressure, tree roots or another outside force pushing on the foundation.
3.) If you see a vertical crack…
Vertical foundation cracks are often the least threat to the building. They are usually caused by the natural expansion and contraction of concrete. Through the years’ freeze-thaw cycles, the concrete expands and contracts causing the concrete to crack. When these vertical cracks are straight or slightly wandering and generally even in thickness, the risk is fairly low as far as affecting the structural integrity of the house.
4.) If you see a horizontal crack…
Generally, horizontal cracks are structural cracks usually caused from pressure building up on the opposite side of the wall from either an improper backfill or hydrostatic pressure.
5.) Surface treatments (like caulking) don’t work on basement walls.
Caulking or other surface treatments that you can find in the hardware store don’t work on basement walls. Professional grade crack injection materials are designed to withstand the pressure either of a moving foundation or outside pressure that is heavy enough to crack concrete.
6.) Some cracks need polyurethanes
The cracks that are nonstructural and just leaking will need a polyurethane crack injection material. Most polyurethanes are flexible and move with the crack if it happens to move with a freeze-thaw cycle of the concrete.
7.) Some cracks need epoxy
If a crack is moving, expanding and contracting with the concrete or widening you will most likely need an epoxy. Epoxy hardens to a rigid material that actually chemically bonds to the concrete so the cracks stops moving.
8.) If the crack is moving you may need a crack stabilizer like carbon fiber staples
Sometimes a crack needs more of a stabilizer than just merely epoxy and a contractor will recommend pairing it with carbon fiber staples or ties. Carbon fiber is a proven method to strengthen a foundation wall. Carbon fiber is an incredibly strong, lightweight manmade material that found its place in the foundation repair industry about 20 years ago. Some carbon fiber systems actually are used for more than crack repair and are used to stabilize a bowing block wall.
9.) Sometimes foundation cracks mean serious damage
If you multiple foundation cracks on adjacent walls or if the problems are moving upstairs—such as sticking doors and windows, cracks in the walls and sheetrock upstairs, or damage to the chimney it may be a sign of foundation settlement. If your house is indeed on loose or unstable soil, then you may need to look into underpinning or piers that will set your house on solid footings again.
10.) Call a professional
Do not, we repeat, DO NOT DO foundation repair work yourself. The average homeowner does not have the know-how to pull it off safely. Unless you have experience as a structural engineer, you could cause damage to yourself and your house if you try to do foundation wall repair work yourself. Call a professional basement waterproofer or structural repair contractor to assess your situation. Most contractors offer free inspections and estimates. It is important to understand the seriousness of your situation and see the best options to fix it.
People understand the metaphors about the necessity of a sure foundation; however, when the literal foundation of a house may be compromised they question if it is worth fixing. There is a reason the metaphors make sense. Your foundation is literally the most important part of the house. Without a strong foundation, the whole structural integrity of the house could be compromised. While investing in foundation repair may not be a fun remodel, it is definitely necessary. Here are five reasons why you should invest in foundation wall repair.
1.) It is dangerous to ignore it
Foundation problems can lead to foundation failure. Yes, while some cracks and foundation issues are slow moving, if you never solve the issues they will get worse. As the problem gets worse, it will cost more money to fix. If the damage is extensive enough it may need to be completely rebuilt. Ignoring foundation damage will become increasingly more dangerous and could completely collapse resulting in major repairs to your entire home.
2.) It impacts the resale value of your home
You may have a great house but if you have foundation problems, it is going to be hard to sell. If you ever want to sell your house, you will have to either take a major loss on the house or fix the foundation. Most of the time the buyer will force the seller to repair the foundation before a deal is finalized. While the laws vary state to state, most places have strict laws about sales disclosures and the condition of the foundation is definitely an item on the disclosure form. If you don’t disclose a problem it can turn into a costly lawsuit or at least blow the sale.
3.) The problems will not go away on their own
Foundation problems will not fix themselves and it isn’t safe for a homeowner to do it themselves. They don’t have the right tools or the right experience to have a foundation repair job. Homeowners need to call a professional. A professional’s repairs will be certified. A home inspector will know the difference between a professional job and a DIY foundation repair and it will impact the value of your home.
4.) The issues don’t stop with the foundation
If you have need foundation repair then you probably have cracks in the foundation. If you have foundation cracks, you most likely have water issues, too. If you have water issues, you most likely have mold and mildew issues. If you have mold then you probably have indoor air quality issues. Foundation cracks could also be letting in radon and other dangerous soil gases. Basically, you need to understand that foundation cracks are actually causing your families health and breathing problems or even worse, lung cancer if you have a radon problem that you don’t know about.
5.) Fixing the foundation will fix your house
If you are in need of foundation repairs, you have probably been living with windows and doors that stick, unsightly cracks in your walls upstairs, or gaps around doors and windows letting in serious drafts or even rodents and insects. Your chimney could be leaning, tilting or even cracked. The bricks on your house could be cracked or with cracks in the mortar joints. These are just symptoms of foundation and settlement issues. You need to fix the foundation to permanently fix these issues. If you try to fix these issues before you fix the real cause you will end up refixing the same problems over and over again.
Overall, the health of your foundation impacts your whole house and the health of the home environment. The foundation should be treated and maintained as the important part of the home that it is. Don’t ignore foundation repairs. Don’t wait for it to turn into an emergency. Invest in the foundation repairs your home needs sooner than later.
Freezing weather may be taking a toll on your foundation. Concrete poured foundations and block wall foundations are affected by freeze-thaw cycles. Concrete expands as it freezes and contracts as it thaws. Same goes for the ground around the foundation changing the pressure in the soil. As the concrete expands and contracts it tends to crack. This is why expansion joints and control joint were created. Control joints give the concrete a place to crack and expansion joints give the concrete some space to expand.
Even though concrete is still one of the strongest and most versatile building materials it is still not perfect. The weather can also impact concrete during the construction process. Pouring concrete in extreme weather can affect how it cures and therefore the concrete’s overall strength in the end. Concrete is made with water. So, if concrete is poured in freezing weather that water in the mix can freeze. If it freezes it produces pressure in the pours of the concrete and can ultimately cause cracking, spalling, and the cured concrete to crumb off. The Portland Cement Association has developed deicers and recommends techniques for pouring concrete in cold temperatures but it is still not the best practice.
Masonry walls are not immune to the negative affects cold weather has on a poured foundation. Even though they don’t have to cure out in the elements they still expand and contract with freeze-thaw cycles. Cinder blocks are porous by nature and if they get wet and stay wet for too long freeze-thaw damage can occur. This issue is more common in retrofits and basement remodels. Commonly modern energy efficient remodels typically add interior insulation causing the exterior masonry to stay colder and wetter. The water staying in the block wall can cause potentially more freeze-thaw damage. For more information see the Portland Cement Association research on cold weather concrete.
Sooner or later, concrete cracks. Sadly, there is not a lot of ways around it. There is technology to control where concrete cracks and fix them when they happen but there is not a lot of tactics for preventing cracks. However, when it comes to your foundation it is important to understand what causes foundation cracks. That way you may be able to control some of the elements to prevent cracks before they happen. Here are some of the common causes of foundation cracks:
Trees and bushes that are planted too close to the foundation wall can cause foundation cracks. Basically, the roots keep growing naturally and when they hit the concrete wall they keep pushing against the foundation causing it to crack. To prevent this scenario, avoid planting trees and deep root bushes too close to the foundation wall. It is easier to remove the tree than it is to move your house.
Hydrostatic pressure happens when water builds up in the soil. As water saturates the ground, the soil expands and increases the pressure that is pushing up against the foundation wall. This pressure can crack the foundation wall which typically manifests itself in horizontal cracks. To prevent this, don’t let excess water build up along the foundation wall. Make sure the gutters and downspouts are working together to channel the water away from the house. The soil grade should angle away from the house to let any water fall away from the foundation not toward it. French drains can also help relieve hydrostatic pressure by channeling water away from the house.
Concrete naturally expands and contracts with the elements. As the ground around the foundation freezes and thaws the concrete expands and contracts often causing small vertical hairline cracks. Most of the time, these cracks are not serious but should be fixed before they let in water, soil gases, or insects and pests. Sometimes when a contractor pours a concrete foundation they include expansion joints to allow for the natural movement of the concrete to happen without causing the concrete to crack. If your foundation cracks due to the freeze and thaw cycles, just get the fixed as soon as possible so they don’t get worse or cause other problems.
Soil settlement can also cause foundation cracks. This usually happens if the footing was not properly supported, backfilled, or if the soil under the foundation was not properly compacted. Settlement cracks can also happen if there is excavation work going on in the area. This sometimes will change the soil environment and cause the ground to shift under the footing. You can know if the crack is from a settlement issue if the crack is actively moving. It is hard to prevent this from happening but if it does foundation repair contractors have systems to stabilize the foundation and prevent the crack from moving anymore.
If you have a foundation crack, it is important to call a professional to repair the crack and assess the situation. If it is a structural crack that is affecting the integrity of the building or house, you may have to consider shoring up the foundation with anchors, underpinning, or carbon fiber systems. A professional foundation repair contractor can help diagnose the problem and recommend the best systems for your situation.
Basement wall cracks are the most common source of seepage problems. If you have a foundation that is constructed of poured concrete, there’s a very high likelihood there is a crack somewhere in your foundation. If your basement is finished, it can become a challenge to find them.
Before you start ripping down your drywall or paneling, take a walk outside.
Walk around the exterior of your home. It’s best if there is still daylight. Otherwise, grab a powerful flashlight. And make sure to bring your eyeglasses with you.
The first thing you want to do is locate the top of your foundation wall.
Ideally, it should extend above your grading at least a few inches. If not, grab a shovel and pull back the soil enough so you can expose the top of the foundation.
Once the foundation is exposed and identified, clean off the surface of the wall.
A wire brush will usually do the trick. Now, slowly scan the exposed portion of the foundation and look for hairline cracks. When I say hairline, some cracks are just 1/16 of an inch wide. Now you know why I said grab your glasses! Here’s a photo to give you a better idea:
Spend some extra time on the sections of the wall that correspond with basement seepage.
Say, for instance you noticed the carpeting was wet about ten feet to the left of your chimney inside your basement. When you go back outside, measure ten feet to the right of the chimney.
Don’t expect to find cracks all over the place.
The average house has between two and eight foundation cracks. Don’t be fooled by form lines in the foundation. They are superficial and don’t leak because they don’t go all the way through the wall. Form lines are left in the concrete when the wood forms are pulled. They are found at fixed intervals.
Your foundation is made of concrete right? With concrete, you are guaranteed two (2) things… one, the concrete will get hard and two, the concrete will crack.
Concrete is one of the best building materials ever devised by man. Concrete is a building material made from mixing cement, sand and water. After you mix the concrete two things will happen. It will get hard and it will crack. When it’s done right concrete will last a long time. But it will crack; it is just a matter of when.
There are cracks in concrete everywhere; look at the floors in the stores around your city. If the walls, floors and sidewalks are made of concrete, they probably have cracks in them too.
Foundations crack because:
1.) Shrinkage – As the concrete cures the moisture evaporates out. This evaporation can cause the concrete to shrink. Shrinkage is a common factor in all concrete and oftentimes causes cracking.
2.) Settlement – The soil that is placed around the foundation after construction is called back fill. This soil is filled back into the hole after the foundation is built. As time passes the back fill compacts and settles and this settlement can affect the foundation as well as the earth under the house settling from the weight of the house.
3.) Stress – Foundations are stressed when pressure is applied. This pressure is either in the form of water pressure or soil pressure. The pressure is unbalanced because it is from one side of the foundation only.
There are a lot of companies that do foundation wall cracks and repair them from the inside or outside with a patch method. If the basement is unfinished (no drywall or paneling) and the crack is exposed on the interior, companies typically recommend epoxy/urethane injection process. This is a two step process which involves sealing the crack on its inside face with an epoxy paste and injecting a urethane resin which fills the entire crack to the outside soil.
If the crack is obstructed by paneling or drywall, then companies address the problem from the exterior utilizing wall-clay process or using the epoxy/urethane injection process. This involves coring a small hole in the earth at the crack location and filling the hole with a granular clay to form an impermeable water barrier or injecting the urethane and using the epoxy paste.
Both foundation crack repair processes are minimally invasive and minimally effective. Most foundation wall cracks do not pose any structural concerns, but solving them correctly the first time will prevent any future needs or worries about the cracks. Certain crack pattern formations and those wider than 1/8”, however, can be a sign of a structural problem that should be further evaluated by companies who offer foundation crack repair and structural repairs.
We know choosing a foundation repair contractor can be a bit difficult as well as nerve wrecking.
Here are ten questions to ask the company. These will help you make your decision a little easier:
1.) Years in the Business?
2.) What Is Their Warranty?
3.) What Type of System Do They Use?
4.) Are They Insured?
5.) Part of any Affiliations/Associations?
6.) Price Compared to Benefits?
7.) Sales Rep Certifications/Awards?
8.) Sales Rep Knowledge?
9.) Sales Rep Badmouthing Competition?
10.) Companies Reputation?
The answers to these ten questions will give you all the answers you need to make your decision if the company is right for you. For more information about foundation repair contractors, visit our homepage stablwallcarbonfiber.com or give us a call at 866-782-5955.
We all understand the importance of repairing our broken, bowing foundation walls for the sake of fixing them up and making them nice; but often we don’t consider the consequences of NOT taking action.
As cracks expand, and joints open wider, you could be opening your home up to the outside elements, putting the health of your home and your family at risk.
In addition to the side effects listed above, you may have also noticed drywall cracking, or windows and sliding doors becoming harder to open. These are all indications that your foundation may be due for an inspection from a structural engineer or foundation professional.
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Phone: (866) 782-5955
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