Nothing is more unsettling than cracks in a home’s foundation. Foundation cracks are not only an eyesore, but they can also compromise the structural integrity of your home. Whether you’ve owned your Winston-Salem, NC, home for 15 years or are just a few months in, the risks are the same.
To save yourself from costly repairs down the line, it is crucial that you fix cracks promptly. But first things first, it is important for you to know what causes cracks before you apply a fix.
What causes foundations to crack?
Foundation cracks often appear around weak points in your home like corners, doorways, window frames, and pipes, including the exterior of your home. While each type of foundation crack is unique, here are some of the most common causes of foundation cracks.
Foundation cracks can appear in poured concrete for a variety of reasons. For instance, temperature changes cause the concrete in your foundation to expand and contract, leading to cracks. High heat levels and direct exposure to the sun also cause cracking.
Note that cracks caused by shrinkage are tiny and generally do not compromise the strength or integrity of your foundation. However, they should be repaired for safety reasons.
Poor soil compaction
If the soil underneath your foundation was not properly compacted, or the foundation was built on loosely filled soil or gravel, there is a high chance that the slab will sink a little and crack. Poorly compacted soils cannot support the weight of the foundation. Anything that causes the soil to move or settle will lead to cracks in the foundation.
When your water or sewer pipes leak, the moisture goes under your foundation causing it to crack. If left unattended or the leak continues for a long time, the damage will grow worse.
Once you move your belongings to your home, the ground underneath your foundation will settle due to the heavy compressive load and changing soil density. This shifting may trigger foundation cracks.
Drought or hydrostatic pressure
When your yard is saturated, the soil around your home’s foundation exerts significant pressure against your foundation walls. This causes the walls to bow or buckle and form diagonal or horizontal cracks. Similarly, when there isn’t enough moisture in the soil, it shrinks, creating a gap that allows your foundation to shift and crack.
Sometimes, the cracks on your foundation could simply be due to construction problems. Undersized footings, inadequate reinforcement, loose soil, and inferior concrete can all lead to a weak foundation. Over time, your foundation becomes susceptible to cracks.
Should I fix foundation cracks?
Time is of the essence when dealing with cracks in the foundation. Cracks tend to grow and worsen over time, compounding your problems and making them more expensive to fix. Left unattended, the cracks will start letting in moisture into your basement or crawl space. This moisture creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth. It also welcomes pests and critters that eat away at your furniture, contaminate your food, and spread diseases.
Water damage is another possibility, especially if the cracks are wider than 1/16 of an inch. Muddy floodwater can soil your belongings and set the stage for rot and mold in your home. The cleanup and remediation costs can easily run into thousands of dollars, money you could have otherwise spent on home improvement projects.
Take the next step
Overall, foundation cracks are worrisome and should be taken seriously. Fixing foundation cracks on time is the key to maintaining the long-term value of your property. The professionals at Tar Heel Basement Systems have a deep understanding of Winston-Salem, NC, foundation cracks and provide tailored solutions. Contact us for a free foundation inspection and repair quote today!