If you own your own home, you probably worry about finding a basement floor crack. The internet is filled with cautionary tales of houses left compromised by damage that started as a mere cracked floor that has now left the owner with large repair bills, higher insurance rates, or the prospect of moving on from a house they can’t afford to fix or sell. While some cracks can definitely be a sign of issues under your home, others are most likely harmless. We can help you spot cracks, understand what they mean, and decide on the right floor repair for a crack in the basement.
A Small Area With A Big Role
Basements don’t get a lot of attention since they’re out of most peoples’ primary home foot traffic areas. This can lead to basement floor cracks not being spotted right away, which can turn into a big problem if they’re the wrong type of cracks. Your house relies on your basement’s strength, and if the basement is compromised, that puts your whole house at risk.
As your home’s foundation, your basement is meant to provide a stable platform the builder used when constructing your home. The entire weight of the home is constructed to rest on the basement and, in turn, the earth underneath it. A crack in your basement floor or walls could be the first sign of weakening structural integrity, a warning about changing ground conditions under your home, or the symptom of a construction issue that needs to be addressed before damage continues. Depending on the crack, a basement floor repair may be able to fix the problem and help you avoid high repair bills.
You could see increased activity from pests, water seepage, or areas of the floor that seem to be falling in or rising from the basement floor around the crack. While the physical dangers these present to your home and property may be readily apparent, other risks can go unseen. Mold infiltration, even in areas out of sight, can lead to harmful spores entering the home and spreading, where they can easily cause a host of health complications. Invisible soil gasses, such as the cancer-causing gas radon, can also use some cracks to enter the home.
Why Is My Basement Cracking Now?
That’s a good question, and the answer can help you understand how best to address the situation. Your foundation is surrounded by literally tons of dirt, soil, and moisture that presses against it on all sides. When the builder started your house, they excavated a bowl-shaped depression, built the basement, then filled in the area surrounding the walls with loose-packed dirt. Essentially, your basement sits in a bowl of hard-packed earth, surrounded by looser soil.
As groundwater levels rise and fall, rain above ground soaks the area, other precipitation runs off the roof, some of this moisture soaks into the soft-pack dirt where it can more easily find spaces. Between the dirt, water, and the weight of the house pushing down on it, your foundation is under an immense amount of stress balanced against your home’s structural design, the materials it’s made from, and how those are used together to create your home. When something tips this balance, cracks and damage can happen.
Types Of Basement Floor Cracks
When it comes to basement floor cracks, all specimens are not created equal. The type of cracking you face could provide clues to not only proper basement floor crack repairs but also help predict future issues to look out for.
|Spalding or Flaking||This unsightly floor damage pattern looks less like basement floor cracks and more like your floor is peeling after a bad sunburn. It occurs when moisture enters the concrete late in the curing process. The result is a softer, looser layer of surface concrete on top of the harder, structurally sound slab that comprises the majority of your basement floor. It does not present a risk to your home and can simply be sealed or covered if you want to restore a neater appearance.|
|Hairline Cracks||So-called because they’re about the width of a hair, these small cracks usually don’t represent a danger to your home or its occupants as long as they are less than ⅛” thick. As concrete dries, it contracts, forming a strong bond among its constituents that creates a rock-hard surface. In larger pieces, such as those found in basement floors, this shrinking can lead to small cracks that usually don’t pass all the way through the concrete and don’t pose a threat. Hardly noticeable, if their appearance does bother you, sealing or floor coverings can easily keep them out of sight and out of mind.|
|Cracks Over ⅛” Thick||With these larger cracks, basement floor repair is needed to block moisture and soil gasses from entering the home. Special concrete filler or caulking is used to fill the cracks and provide a seal that leaves you with a better-protected basement and peace of mind.|
|Heaving||Heaving is when a cracked area of the floor pushes up above the surrounding basement floor. This usually occurs when the loose back-filled dirt or hard-pack beneath your home has a higher clay content that is soaking up water. As the soil expands, it pushes up against the floor until it cracks. This signals the need for immediate professional attention to not only your foundation but also to the drainage around your home that you rely on to relieve pressure.|
|Sinking||Conversely, cement cracking and falling down into the floor can indicate there are voids in the soil under your basement floor, leading to cracks and instabilities that threaten your home’s stable footing. A basement professional can use special polymer fillers to fill these void spaces and raise your basement floor cracks level again for repair.|
I May Have Waited Too Long…
Basement floor cracks don’t always happen when we’re ready for them. They happen when you’re on a tight budget and need to wait to have them looked at. They happen when you’re out enjoying the summer and not going down to clean out your stored belongings. Whatever the reason, you can still work on mitigating the damage with professional repair for basement floor cracks that have gotten worse or you uncovered in an already advanced state. Don’t write off a home that can be saved when help is a phone call away.
Get A Pro Involved
It starts with a free inspection from a basement and waterproofing professional. With years of experience protecting homes just like yours, our specialist will survey the damage, help you understand your immediate options, and lay out the repair timeline to restore your basement floor. Once you’re ready, we’ll use top-of-the-line materials to address your basement floor cracks, and we stand behind our work with a lifetime warranty.
Protect your home. Schedule a free inspection from AM Wall Anchor & Waterproofing today.