How To Tell Foundation Problems – Expert advice from Bob Vila, the most trusted name in home improvement, home remodeling, home repair and DIY. Tested, real, trusted home advice
10 Ways to Know if Foundation Skin Should Be Repaired Learn when a foundation crack may indicate a serious structural problem—and when you can repair it yourself and have peace of mind.
How To Tell Foundation Problems
The foundation of your home – the concrete walls around the basement or crawl space – carries the entire weight of the house, so it’s natural to be concerned if you notice cracks in the concrete. Fortunately, many foundation cracks are not serious enough to require professional attention, and repairing a foundation crack can be a DIY job as long as the crack does not threaten the integrity of the structure.
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The best way to make sure that a crack is not a sign of a major structural problem is to have a foundation contractor or structural engineer take a look at it. Before you start dialing, however, there are some rules of thumb to remember that will help you decide whether or not to worry. So see where your crack falls in the foundation crack repair scenarios and see what you can do.
Within a year of construction, hairline cracks (about the width of a sewing thread) usually appear on the inside of basement walls, usually near windows and doors or in the corners of the floor. low This is due to the normal “settling” or slight shrinkage of the concrete as it hardens.
As long as the cracks are wide, there is nothing to worry about. Repairing settlement cracks of this variety is as simple as applying a coat of paint suitable for masonry, such as INSL-X TuffCrete Acrylic Concrete Paint.
When you notice a new crack that isn’t a hair but still isn’t wider than ½ inch, it’s probably due to subsidence and probably won’t cause a problem—unless it’s expanding. Check for cracks by making a pencil mark on each end and writing the date next to each mark, or by placing a tape measure next to the crack and taking a picture. Also, measure the width at the widest point and write it on the wall or make a note on the picture.
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Check the crack at least monthly for several months and make additional marks and record dates if the crack is expanding. If there is no expansion and no moisture seeping through, the crack is stable and you can fill it with grout like Sashco Gray Mor-Flexx Grout Repair and then smooth with a putty knife.
⅛- to ¼-inch cracks are often caused by house settlement or concrete shrinkage within a few months of construction, so they don’t cause structural problems. But sealing is a good idea to prevent moisture, earth odors, or even radon gas.
Repairing a foundation crack of this width is a simple DIY project, filling the crack with a concrete-compatible sealer such as Dap Concrete and Mortar Sealant.
If there is a horizontal crack where the foundation wall meets the basement, it is not a structural problem, but it needs to be sealed.
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Since a basement is poured after the walls are poured, the concrete where they meet does not always bond perfectly – and this is a common point where cracking occurs when which the house settles. A crack can be as wide as ½ inch and still not cause any problems other than letting in moisture, odors and gases. Repair the foundation as you would any other non-structural crack: Fill it with a sealant suitable for concrete.
You can also find concrete crack repair kits that contain all the tools needed to close the crack. If the crack between the wall and the floor is more than ½ inch (some can be 2 inches wider), contact a foundation contractor who can fill it by spraying expanding epoxy. If you have a crack like this to deal with, definitely don’t finish the basement before making repairs.
Repairing a foundation leak is more expensive than repairing a concrete crack, so act quickly if you notice water seeping through a foundation crack.
If water seeps through the crack, close the crack and direct the water away. Basements and crawl spaces are usually damp because they are below grade (garden level). But when water – not just moisture – passes through the crack, it increases the risk of mold and mildew growth.
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Although the crack should be sealed as described above, it is even more important to keep water away from the foundation wall. This can be done by removing foundation plantings, installing gutters and downspouts, and adding soil to the garden on the foundations, creating a slope of at least 2 percent away from the house, allowing water to drain naturally away from the foundation.
If you have a cracked foundation and the gap is more than ½ inch wide, have it checked by a professional.
Although many larger foundation cracks may still be harmless, it is a good idea to have a foundation contractor or structural engineer inspect the foundation for structural problems.
Repairing a foundation crack over ½ inch wide with a foundation crack repair kit may be a DIY job, but if the crack is caused by something more serious, professional help should be sought at first.
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The base walls are reinforced with steel to prevent them from moving. In areas with clay soil, the clay can swell when wet and exert a strong lateral (hydraulic) pressure on the wall, pushing it in and causing structural cracks that can cause more problems. identify more. This is a serious problem and should be discussed with the foundation contractor.
If the bulging is small, it may be difficult to see, but you can hold a long level, say 6 feet, against the wall to determine if the crack area is pressing. Even a small bump that comes with a crack is a cause for concern and should be looked at by a professional.
Although any fault may be indistinct, diagonal and vertical foundation faults are usually the result of normal subsidence and can be treated as described above. Like bulging walls, horizontal cracks are usually caused by water pressure, and even if the wall isn’t bulging, it’s time to call in the professionals.
Strengthening a foundation with structural problems can involve a number of remedial measures, including external excavation of the wall, hydraulic lifting, or steel blasting of the wall, but only a basic contractor who can assess the extent of the problem and provide an appropriate remedy.
Gap Between Wall & Floor Means Foundation Problem
While a hairline crack or a crack that hasn’t changed for a long time isn’t usually a cause for concern, cracks that change direction or follow grout grooves in stairs need to be addressed. This crack pattern can indicate that the soil is moving under and around the house, causing fluctuating stresses on the foundation and causing the foundation to move in ways it wasn’t designed for.
Ignore these types of basic faults. An engineer can drill soil samples and perform soil tests to determine what is going on and how to fix the situation.
Typically used to repair cracked concrete after earthquake or impact damage—in situations where there is no longer any movement—epoxy injection can be effective in repairing foundation cracks.
However, this epoxy is not exactly the same as the convenient two-part epoxy used for crafts and other household repairs. This epoxy comes as a pressurized spray and usually comes with injection ports like this one from PC Products to make it easy to feed the epoxy into the crack. First, the crack is cleaned, dried, and then blown with compressed air to make sure it is free of debris. Then the spray fitting is installed and epoxy is sprayed into the crack until it is full.
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If the crack is damp and it is impossible to dry it, contact a professional. They may be able to use a polyurethane injection similar to an epoxy injection to seal the crack.
Here’s the good news: Some foundation cracks can be prevented. While we can’t control all of Mother Nature’s effects, there are a few simple prevention methods that work and are worth the effort. Unfortunately, the list of ways to prevent cracks includes activities that many homeowners dislike.
Not surprisingly, many of the best ways to prevent foundation cracks are to keep water out of the house. Make sure drains, gutters and downspouts are clear of debris to prevent water from pooling near the foundation. If water collects around the foundation during and after rainstorms, even if the gutters and drains are clear, consider landscaping to refresh the yard and keep plant roots away from the foundation. -base. And to make sure that small problems don’t lead to headaches, always look out for small faults and fix them as soon as you notice them.