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How to Fix Foundation Cracks

Foundation cracks can be very scary, especially if you’ve never seen them before. How can you make sure your foundation cracks don’t cause problems?

Horizontal crack on an exterior brick foundation.

How to Fix Foundation Cracks More Easily

If there’s one terrifying thing you may experience as a homeowner, it’s foundation cracks. Foundation cracks can be a huge problem in your crawl space or basement because it means there’s an underlying problem with the foundation. If you’re having problems with your foundation, you may end up with other problems as well. What’s the answer? Here’s what to do for starters.

How to Catch Foundation Cracks Early

The first note is that you want to be able to catch foundation cracks as early on as possible. Follow these steps to catch foundation cracks early on in their process of forming.

  • Understand the Warning Signs

There are many warning signs that may clue you in to the fact that you could have crawl space foundation cracks. These warning signs can be much more obvious than foundation cracks, especially if you rarely look at your foundation. 

Consider these warning signs that can show up in your home and your crawl space:

  • Sloping floors
  • Floor joist problems
  • Condensation

When there’s foundation cracks, it’s often because one side of your foundation is settling faster than the other. Foundation settlement can be something that wreaks havoc on your home, which is why you need to think about the warning signs regularly and make sure you don’t miss them for too long.

  • Get an Expert’s Input Every Year 

It’s a good idea to get an expert inspection for your foundation every year. This can be a bit annoying—for the most part, an expert will just take a look at your foundation and come back with an “all clear” message. That can tempt some homeowners to assume they don’t need an inspection because their foundation is going to be fine every time.

Although it can feel like that at times, this mindset couldn’t be further from the truth. You get an inspection for your foundation every year not because you assume that something will be wrong, but because you want to prepare yourself for whenever it is. If you don’t get an expert inspection every year, you’re much more likely to end up not uncovering your issues until things have progressed to a nearly untenable point.

  • Investigate Whenever Possible

An expert inspection can uncover a variety of things that you may not have the tools or insight to understand about your foundation, but your investigation can give you a bit of a leg up. After all, you live in your home every day; you’ll be able to investigate more frequently than an expert will be able to.

As part of your inspection, every few months, you might want to go into your crawl space and look around a little bit. Especially if you have an encapsulated crawl space, you’re likely to be able to go down there without a lot of problems. From here, you can take a look around and make sure everything looks stable and secure. It will at least manage your crawl space safety better than not doing anything.

What Are the Impacts of Foundation Cracks in Your Crawl Space?

Foundation cracks have some genuine impacts, not just things you don’t understand very well. The impacts of foundation cracks you don’t manage can stretch extremely far. Here are some of the best examples.

  • Crawl Space 

Of course, the area immediately around the foundation is what’s going to get the most of an impact first and foremost. In many homes, that’s the crawl space. Foundation cracks in the crawl space can let a lot of things in, including pests and water. When you don’t treat these cracks, you risk having a dirty, pest-filled crawl space.

Is that really a problem? Not only can it wreak havoc on the structure of the crawl space, which is bad enough by itself, but it can negatively impact the health of your home as well. Ants, for example, can burrow into your crawl space through the foundation cracks, then come up and into your home, terrorizing the residents. Water can create high indoor humidity, causing an uptick in allergies and asthma. It’s something you need to minimize if possible.

  • Home Structure 

Your home structure as a whole will also have some problems if you don’t take the time and money to fix these crawl space foundation cracks early on. Foundation cracks often occur because your home’s foundation is shifting and settling. If you don’t take steps to stop it, it’s going to keep doing it, ending in-home structural problems.

How this manifests can be extremely varied. For example, you might see something as dramatic as chimney cracks or you may start to see things as subtle as slightly tilted floors. However, regardless of how dramatic it looks, know that it all points to the same problem. You need to make sure you fix your foundation cracks so you can maintain your home structure responsibly.

  • Structure Outside the Home 

These structural problems will continue to wreak havoc until you stop them. They’ll even continue to cause problems across the property, not just in the home itself. Part of the reason for this is that foundation problems often start with concerns in the soil itself. If that soil is the same across an entire property, you could see shifting and sinking problems in those other areas as well.

Additionally, as your foundation moves and shifts, it will have radiating impacts on other things in the area as well. That can also cause other structures outside your home to move and shift. Regardless of the exact reason for it, this kind of moving and shifting is precisely why you should try to catch foundation problems and fix them as early as possible.

FAQs About Crawl Space Foundation Cracks

Some homeowners wonder whether all crawl space cracks inherently indicate a problem with the foundation. It’s possible for certain cracks to occur because of a problem with how the initial construction crew poured or laid the concrete for your foundation, for example. However, it’s still important to pay close attention to the cracks you’re noticing.

  • Hairline Cracks 

Some cracks form as a normal part of the concrete drying and shrinking process. You’ll notice these on concrete slabs or pavement. However, it’s important to note that these types of cracks are typically hairline cracks, which are nearly impossible to see from far away and are too thin for a business card to go inside.

This is the only type of crack that’s not an immediate concern. If you have a hairline crack in your crawl space, it may not indicate a bigger issue or any failings in your home’s structure. However, you should still keep an eye on it. That way, you can notice as soon as the cracks get larger or you can see if there are cracks that are allowing outside water into your crawl space.

  •  Larger Cracks

On the other hand, if your cracks are any thicker than a hairline crack, you should probably talk to a crawl space expert. Once a crack reaches a specific size, it’s much more likely to indicate foundational concerns and allow for water damage to accumulate. That will need input from a professional.

Bringing attention to these types of cracks early can help you fix the cracks properly. Make sure you talk to an expert as soon as you notice larger cracks in your crawl space, as you need to make sure that you’re avoiding issues with the crawl space from the beginning.

The biggest difference you might notice between crawl space foundation cracks and basement foundation cracks is that basement walls are larger, so there’s more room for a problem. Beyond that, there are a few things to remember about the differences.

  • Basement Cracks

When you have a basement, you’re more likely to notice problems. That’s because it’s more common for homeowners to visit their basements than it is to visit their crawl space. This means when the basement has developed cracks, leaks, or structural damage, you’ll spot these concerns early and apply quicker solutions. A crawl space may fall by the wayside.

Additionally, basement walls typically deal with more hydrostatic pressure. Basements are buried further underground. While crawl spaces are also underground, basements have to be taller, allowing homeowners to move around more freely and capitalize on more storage space. Because of the sheer weight of the water in the soil, hydrostatic pressure makes your basement more prone to problems.

  • Crawl Space Cracks

A crawl space may be less prone to hydrostatic pressure. Because most crawl spaces are under three feet tall, they typically have to deal with substantially less pressure than basements. However, it’s also more common to allow a crawl space to fall into disarray.If you have a crawl space, the best thing you can do is keep it well-maintained. Many homeowners don’t invest into crawl space fixes like crawl space encapsulation, which is one of the best ways you can avoid outside air, water, and pests coming into your crawl space. If you choose to invest this money, you can maximize your crawl space health overall.

The health of your crawl space is a crucial element of avoiding foundation cracks. Any crawl space can end up with problems, but it’s always better for you to have a healthy crawl space with measures to keep the space maintained than to have a crawl space without one. 

  • The Benefits of a Healthy Crawl Space

A healthy, well-maintained crawl space is much less likely to end up foundation cracks than an ill-maintained one. There are many ways to maintain your crawl space, including adding crawl space vent covers, installing a dehumidifier, and more. When you maintain your crawl space, it’s more likely to be healthy.

This is partially because you’re more likely to keep an eye on well-maintained crawl spaces. However, it’s also because a well-maintained crawl space is less likely to suffer from the problems that so often plague them. This can reduce your chance of dealing with crawl space problems like serious cracks and similar concerns.

  • The Issues With an Unhealthy Crawl Space

An unhealthy crawl space, on the other hand, is just asking for trouble. Problems can escalate quickly and make each other worse. For example, with a combination of moisture problems, structural problems, and even pests, your home may become toxic to the residents or so badly damaged that it needs a full replacement.

This is just an unfortunate part of having an unhealthy crawl space. The good news is that you can fix it if you put in the time and effort necessary to maintain the space. A crawl space repair expert can give you the information you need to figure out what’s happening in your home and understand how you might be able to fix it.

It can be tempting to just put plaster over a crawl space foundation crack to hide it from plain sight and assume you’ve fixed the problem. However, plastering over these cracks doesn’t fix the deeper problem, which is why it’s not a great idea. 

  • Aesthetic Fixes

Sure, plastering over the crack will hide it, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to fix the problem. Plastering over the crack will leave the crevice to expand and cause further damage, which may lead to more costly repairs in the future. This can happen within a few days, if the root cause is severe, or within several weeks, if you’re lucky.

Aesthetic “fixes” will also leave your crawl space at risk of developing other issues. Mold, pests, and similar invasive issues may spread from beneath the plaster or crop up elsewhere as a result of the root issue. Instead of prioritizing aesthetic fixes that will just hide the problem for a short time, it’s much better to prioritize a complete fix. It will give you peace of mind about your crawl space’s health.

  • Fixing the Deeper Problem

A crawl space foundation crack showcases a much deeper problem than the crack on the surface. The problem typically has to do with issues regarding your foundation, not just issues that are happening in the crawl space, and these problems can radiate throughout your home. You need a crawl space expert to help you fix that underlying problem.

Talk to a Groundworks professional to learn more about the fixes that might work best for your foundation. With help from a crawl space repair expert, you’ll be able to identify and fix the underlying issues you’re experiencing. You can schedule an inspection today to get your start.

Fix Your Crawl Space Foundation Cracks at the Root With an Expert’s Help

You can’t just plaster over crawl space foundation cracks or add some extra concrete to make a foundation slab look less cracked. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. These things won’t fix the problem; they’ll just make the problem appear less annoying. You need to fix your crawl space foundation cracks for good. A Groundworks expert can help. Schedule your free inspection today to get a crawl space expert over to your home. They’ll be able to look around, figure out what’s wrong, and create a plan with you to fix it.

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