Basement Waterproofing Problem Signs–Basement Wall and Floor Cracks
Seeing cracks along your basement’s wall or floor might cause you a bit of concern. Rightfully so. Cracks along your basement walls and floor do more than make a basement unsightly. They can prove to be ruinous to the room as a whole.
Water can easily seep into these cracks and flood your basement. This can be a frustrating experience for any homeowner to deal with. It is best to look out for the problem signs the moment they appear. A keen eye is key to flooding prevention. How do you identify and fix problem signs before they lead to flooding?
What to Look out For
There are several steps to effectively waterproofing your basement. The first is being able to spot problem signs as they arise. What are some problem signs you need to watch out for?
If you find a random pool of water on your basement floor, you might have a leaking problem. Cracks cause basement leaks along your basement wall or floor. They may also indicate a structural issue within your foundation or pre-existing drainage system.
You should not take these lightly. Merely placing a bucket underneath the leak is not going to cut it.
Even a small leak can be devastating in a severe storm. A flash flood of that nature can easily ruin your carpets, furniture, and other valuable keepsakes you store in the basement.
Cracks within your basement’s walls or flooring themselves are prominent problem signs of something bigger. They can indicate foundation issues or the overall age and wear of your home. You should address both immediately to ensure you do not encounter any severe maintenance issues.
If left unchecked, cracks may expand and cause all sorts of costly issues that extend outside the basement. You will also run the risk of your basement flooding, which can damage your belongings.
There are different types of cracks you might find. Most tend to be categorized based on the width of the crack itself. Hairline cracks, for instance, are very thin and measure less than 1/8 of an inch. Most of the time, they are not a cause for alarm. They might produce tiny leaks at worst.
Cracks that are larger than 3/8 of an inch require immediate attention. These cracks can cause dangerous damage. This is especially true if the crack spans across both your wall and floor. Cracks that lie solely along the wall or floor do pose some danger, but not nearly as much as these larger cracks.
- Uneven Foundation
A strong foundation should keep your house standing tall. It should also block out any moisture from entering your basement.
An uneven or cracked foundation can cause problems. At best, they are mere tripping hazards. At worst, a shifted foundation can lead to flooding and structural complications.
Unfortunately, these shifts can be almost invisible to most homeowners. The only way to truly know if your foundation is experiencing issues is to hire an inspector to look at your basement. They will know exactly what to look for and offer permanent solutions to your specific issues.
Causes of Wall and Floor Cracks
It is one thing to know what to look out for. It is another matter to understand what causes these cracks to form in the first place. What are some of the most common causes of cracks in your basement?
Excess moisture is perhaps the most common cause of cracks. Climates that suffer from heavy snowfall in the winter or storms in the spring retain a lot of moisture in the summer. Simply put, basements in cities like Virginia Beach are likely to deal with a lot of water intake. The City of Virginia Beach’s Department of Public Works predicts that the amount of rainfall the city receives will only increase as time goes on.
There are plenty of ways moisture can create hazardous cracks. Water can flow into the soil underneath the concrete. This can wash bits of it away completely. It can also compact it even tighter together and create immense pressure against the foundation.
When the soil is washed away, it creates voids that cause the foundation above to crack your basement floor. Similarly, pressure from both the water and moist soil may cause your basement walls to crack as well. This is known as hydrostatic pressure.
Additionally, moisture trapped within the concrete pores can freeze in the winter. That ice will then expand and cause your foundation to crack even further.
- Foundation Problems
Moisture can ruin your foundation by itself. However, it will not help if your house already has pre-existing issues with the foundation.
Typically, older houses will show signs of wear to their foundation. You might find that the cracks you have had for years are expanding. Older foundations are also less equipped to handle new cracks that form. Even new homes might suffer from this problem if their landscape retains more moisture than it can handle.
All in all, you need to keep on top of foundation maintenance. Yearly inspections will help in that regard. You can also find more permanent drainage solutions to keep water out of your basement.
How to Fix Basement Wall and Floor Cracks
Fixing basement wall and floor cracks is a matter of prevention. These cracks may continue to fracture over time and cause further foundational issues. You need to patch these cracks up as soon as you see them. Even a hairline fracture may grow into something troublesome eventually.
Fixing cracks along your basement wall or on your floor requires more than covering them up. The actual problem might lie in your uneven foundation. This is not something just any homeowner can fix on their own.
You need a foundation expert to take a thorough look at your basement. They will be able to identify issues you might have missed. They can also assess the best solutions to fix the cracks in your basement.
FAQs About Basement Water and Floor Cracks
The DIY mindset is one that many homeowners adopt, especially after a long period of owning a home. It’s true that you can DIY many things around your home, but concrete cracks typically aren’t one of them. Here’s what you need to know about fixing concrete cracks yourself.
- The Downfalls of DIY Fixes
Most homeowners will try to cover up the cracks with plaster, concrete, or caulking. These are temporary solutions at best. After all, these cracks will appear due to an underlying problem. If you just add plaster, concrete, or caulking to the top of the crack, you’re not going to handle the crack itself, which means you’re not going to fix the problem, and it will escalate.
Managing the underlying issue of your basement or crawl space is something that you need to do if you want to manage your home’s safety. This is especially true if the main issue happens to lie in a faulty foundation. Most homeowners don’t even have the tools available to fix such a crucial component of their homes themselves. This is why hiring an expert to inspect your basement is so important.
- Trust an Expert to Permanently Fix the Situation
Leaving an expert to patch up all the cracks in your walls or floor can permanently resolve any flooding issues. Experts will also know the best ways to redirect water away from your basement. They’re familiar with all the proper tools and drainage systems that will work for you. That makes them the perfect choice for this problem.
At the end of the day, it’s cheaper, safer, and more effective to just get an expert solution first and foremost. Talk to a Groundworks expert to learn more about how you can fix this problem permanently. It might surprise you how effective an expert solution can be.
Understandably, not all homeowners have the time nor the know-how to constantly maintain their basements or foundations. The problem is that it might lead you to forget about cracks in your basement or crawl space, which can be dangerous. Here’s what you need to know about leaving cracks alone.
- Uncommon Small Cracks
In general, leaving a small crack or two along your wall or floor is not the end of the world. However, you do need to keep an eye on them. If you want to be especially safe, you should definitely get an expert in to check things out. For the most part, you can leave one or two small cracks in your basement or crawl space with no significant repercussions.
Additionally, hairline cracks tend to be the types that you don’t need to address. These often come from concrete shrinkage, which occurs shortly after the concrete is poured or because of mild temperature changes. It’s still a good idea to keep an eye on even the smallest hairline cracks in case they open up further.
- Cracks Larger Than a Hairline Crack
Cracks that are anywhere between 1/8 to 3/4 inches in width or more need to be fixed as soon as possible. The best time to get an expert to patch up a crack is when you notice it because you’re going to end up with more secondary problems otherwise. Larger cracks should be noted early since the deeper and wider they get, the more costly they are to repair.
Because cracks can indicate that there’s a serious problem, you need to make sure that you look for other warning signs, such as higher humidity, bowing walls, and sinking floors. These red flags may not always be present, but if they are, you have a serious foundation issue. You shouldn’t only consider cracks “large” if they’re gaping open. Rather, “large” cracks can also be less than an inch in width. Any cracks larger than a hairline crack should get expert attention immediately.
Spotting a crack along your wall or floor might startle you at first. After all, the basement is the lowest room in your home and the closest to the foundation as well. Over time, though, some homeowners might just ignore any cracks they see. It’s important to pay attention to the cracks in your walls and floors for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that different kinds of cracks indicate different problems.
- Hairline Cracks
A hairline crack, which is a crack that you can’t even fit a business card into, might not be a problem. If it reaches through the entirety of the concrete, it may be an issue because of waterproofing concerns [add link]. However, it’s possible to just keep an eye on hairline cracks and only address them if you notice water problems or further opening.
With that said, remember that even hairline cracks can escalate into larger ones and cause massive damage. For the most part, they can last months or years without expanding, but shifting soil, outside pressure, or sudden temperature changes may lead to these growing deeper and wider. If in doubt, you should always contact a crawl space repair expert to get more information about whether your cracks are a problem.
- Larger Cracks
Your house’s foundation is crucial to maintaining its rigid, upright structure. If left unchecked, hairline cracks may ultimately damage your foundation beyond repair, and foundation replacements are not cheap or easy.
It’s also crucial that you pay attention to whether the crack is moving. Whenever a crack moves, even if it doesn’t open further, it may extend on both sides or even close slightly, and you should take note. Even if a closing fissure seems like good news, it indicates that the concrete around the crack is moving, which means something might be happening to your home’s foundation.
Permanently Waterproofing Your Basement
Noticing a crack running along your basement walls or floor is the first step to preventing flooding. Even the thinnest cracks may pose issues in the future if left to expand. Experts can not only cover these dangerous cracks for you, but they also know how to keep water out of your basement.
Foundation experts know the best ways to waterproof your basement permanently. You will no longer have to worry about flooded basements or cracks ever again.