To be candid, foundation cracks are inevitable. We know that’s not what you were hoping to read, but the truth is there are many things that are beyond our control that put pressure on a foundation’s integrity. What is within our control are the preventative measures we take to prevent a minor hairline crack from turning into a major financial problem. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “Every battle is won before it is fought.” Knowing the most common causes of foundation cracks is a great start to preventing major foundation damage.
Seasonal Temperature Changes
In the winter, frost heave causes the soil surrounding your foundation to freeze and expand upward. This is a problem because your concrete foundation uses soil for support when it is installed. When the soil incrementally shifts around each season, it removes that support, placing stress on certain parts of the foundation.
In the summer, the foundation concrete goes through a repetitive cycle of heating up and cooling down each day and night. Heating and cooling causes it to expand and shrink, causing cracks over time. No season is friendly to your foundation!
A busted water pipe can cause water to collect under or beside your foundation. This built-up water increases the hydrostatic pressure (which is just a fancy word for water that is staying in the same spot) in that certain spot. The more water that builds, the more pressure your foundation is battling! Same thing with discharge lines. If you have waterproofing systems in place, such as a sump pump, it’s important that you perform routine checks or maintenance to catch any problems in its early stages.
Let’s be honest… Windsor’s drainage system is not the most effective at doing its job. Flooding is becoming more common for a handful of reasons which we cover in our blog Which Residential Areas in Windsor Are Commonly Hit by Flooding. However, even without heavy rainfalls we have seen homes flood in Windsor due to poor infrastructure both externally and internally to homes. It is more important than ever for homeowners to take basement flood prevention into their own hands to prevent foundation damage.
In newer homes with a freshly poured foundation, cracks will begin to appear over a couple years as a result of the concrete curing. Curing is a natural process concrete goes through as it continues to dry and give up its moisture. While these cracks are mostly cosmetic, they should not go unattended. Like a newborn, you’ll find “they grow up so fast!”
When someone mentions “improper grading”, they mean that the yard is sloped downward toward your house. This causes water from rainfall to pool against your house, putting unnecessary hydrostatic pressure on your foundation. On top of that, soil expands when it soaks up all that water, pushing against your foundation even more. A properly graded yard slopes away from the home, removing that extra foundation-damaging pressure.
You would be surprised at the damage the roots of large trees can cause to a foundation! They have strong roots capable of shifting entire foundation walls. It is important to make sure any large trees or shrubs are at least 20 feet away from your home to be safe.
Don’t Worry… Yet.
As a general rule of thumb, if you can fit a quarter or more into a foundation crack, it is cause for concern. Other signs that your foundation may be in trouble include cracks in the brick siding, cracks near windows and/or doors, cracked or loose tiles, sloped or unlevel floors, a sagging or wavy roof, self-closing/self-opening doors, cracks in the walls and/or ceilings, and if the chimney leans away from the house. We want to win the battle before it happens. Spot a problem early and it is a simple fix.
We at Supreme Basement Solutions offer only the best advice, solutions, and products to our customers, because we treat every home like our own. If you want to speak to an expert about more details, we encourage you to chat with us. Get in touch with us using our contact form, or call us at 519.946.0363.