Foundation Problems: How to Fix Basement Floor Cracks More Easily
Basement floor cracks are an unfortunately common problem that you may run into. If you have basement floor cracks right now, you might wonder how you can get rid of them. What’s your best option for fixing them? How can you maintain your basement more easily?
The good news is that it is possible to fix the cracks in your basement, especially if you can catch them early. However, you need to make sure you’re on top of these problems and thinking about effective solutions. Here’s how you can make your basement floor cracks a little easier to manage.
Identifying Your Problem
The first step to fixing basement floor cracks is identifying them in the first place. Although some basement cracks can certainly be big and obvious, there are many that start out very small. What can you do to identify them as early as possible?
- Common Secondary Signs
Basement floor cracks most commonly occur for reasons that might not seem obvious. That means you’re likely to end up with additional signs you can rely on to notice basement floor cracks. You may see any of these in your home:
- Chimney cracks
- Drywall cracks
- Floor and wall gaps
- Stuck windows and doors
- Wet basement
- Uneven floors
These signs tend to be easier to notice than a basement floor crack, especially if your basement foundation slab is underneath something else. Whether you rarely enter your basement or you have a fully finished basement and can no longer see the basement floor, keeping an eye out for these secondary signs can be immensely helpful.
- A Yearly Inspection
Even when it doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong, you should schedule a yearly inspection for your basement. It can be annoying to schedule yearly inspections only to hear that the basement is completely fine. You may even feel like you’re wasting your time and money.
However, the one time the inspector comes back and lets you know you do have a problem, you’ll be glad you invested in these yearly inspections. Seeing every year go by with a clean bill of health should be something you’re grateful for. Even on the day you receive bad news, you’ll be grateful you stuck with a yearly inspection for so long.
- Day-To-Day Inspection
Although a yearly inspection by an expert is a good way to make sure you’ve gotten to the bottom of all your basement problems, it’s not the only opportunity you should utilize here. A daily inspection from you and your family members can also work wonders. Because you see your home every day, you’re the most well suited to notice when something is different.
You don’t necessarily have to physically inspect your home every day. However, it is a good idea to be on the lookout for those signs of basement concerns. Whether you catch sight of a basement floor crack that’s started to develop or you’ve just noticed uneven floors in your home, this daily home inspection is a great place to start for home health.
Do Basement Floor Cracks Have Additional Impact?
There are some secondary impacts you might notice because of basement floor cracks. If you don’t tackle your basement floor cracks as soon as possible, you may end up with serious issues in and around your home.
The basement itself can sustain significant amounts of damage from floor cracks. If the crack is serious enough, you may end up with flooding in your basement because water can come up through that crack. Even the best basement waterproofing processes can’t help you if the water is just entering through the cracked floor.
Additionally, cracked basement floors tend to be a great place for pests like ants to enter the basement. When these pests can burrow through the dirt, they’re looking for any location where they can enter your home. A cracked basement floor is a breeding ground for pests, especially very small pests, and that’s just one reason it’s so important to handle it as soon as possible.
- General Structure
Your home’s overarching structure can sometimes end up with serious issues due to cracks in the basement floor. Most commonly, this isn’t due to any issues from the crack itself. Instead, these cracks are indicative of a deeper problem. This problem almost always has something to do with structural failure in your home as a whole.
The crack itself can cause more significant shrinking and growing in your home’s structure, but that typically only occurs because of the existing shrinking and growing occurring underneath the home’s structure as a whole. That’s why cracked concrete can have such a measured and significant impact on your home.
- External Structure
Of course, the internal structure of your home isn’t the only thing that could have serious and lasting problems. The external structure, which includes everything else on your property, can also have issues when you have concrete cracks in your basement. Part of this external structure also includes all the concrete that exists in other areas of your property, which can see some pretty severe problems.
Most of the time, the concrete cracks in your basement start because of moving and shifting underneath your home’s structure. That’s what can cause the other issues surrounding your home or other buildings. You may experience cracking in the concrete of your patio, driveway, sidewalk, pool deck, and more. It can have wide-reaching consequences.
FAQs About Fixing Basement Floor Cracks
Basement floor cracks indicate all sorts of concerns. However, some people wonder whether they may be able to have cracks in their basement floor without them indicating serious problems. It largely depends on the age of the basement floor and the size of the cracks.
- Brand New Concrete Slabs
If you’ve moved into a brand new house where the construction crew poured the basement floor within the last few months, it’s possible to start seeing hairline cracks in the basement floor as it shrinks and settles into its permanent place. Brand new concrete slabs do often have hairline cracks and this doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem.
Shrinkage is generally its own problem, rather than a problem that indicates basement concerns. Although you can have issues with shrinkage for a variety of reasons, you’ll need to request help from a basement specialist for shrinkage specifically rather than for problems with your foundation that are showing up in the form of floor cracks.
- Older Concrete Slabs
If an older concrete slab starts to showcase cracks, even hairline cracks, you’ll probably want to think carefully about whether you’re noticing new cracks opening up at a rapid pace. This is because new cracks are typically more dangerous than existing cracks. New cracks can be a sign of a serious concern that existing cracks typically don’t signal.
If you’re seeing brand new cracks, you might want to call in an expert, as it could be an early warning sign of foundation problems. However, older cracks that have never posed a problem before could suddenly become a problem if the foundation starts to move once again. Either way, talking to an expert will help you understand what’s going on.
Although most basement floor cracks do indicate a problem of some kind, it’s true that some cracks can be less concerning. The size of the basement floor cracks will have an impact on whether or not the crack is a problem. The difference lies between hairline cracks and larger cracks.
- Hairline Cracks
A hairline crack is a crack that’s not even wide enough to fit a business card in it. For the most part, a hairline crack should be difficult for you to even notice. Different sources will typically cite different dimensions for a hairline crack, but the general consensus is that if you can’t see the crack without looking for it, it’s a hairline crack.
These hairline cracks are the only example of a crack that’s “small enough” to not be a problem for your basement. Even in this case, you should think carefully about whether the cracks go all the way through the concrete. You can’t tell whether a crack goes all the way through concrete just by looking at the concrete, which means even hairline cracks can be a problem.
- Larger Cracks
If your basement floor has cracks that are in any way larger than the thickness of a business card, you could have a problem on your hands. These larger cracks are more commonly indicative of a problem. This is because if the cracks are noticeable, it’s much more likely that you’re experiencing basement floor cracks that have an underlying foundational cause.
Any time you’re seeing problems with larger cracks in your basement, there’s almost always a deeper cause. Plus, these larger cracks tend to cause more problems, like high levels of indoor humidity and issues with overall basement health. That means it’s a good idea to talk to an expert as soon as you notice them.
There are many reasons that you might start to notice basement floor cracks. These reasons vary dramatically and it’s certainly possible for your cracks to happen because of a relatively rare reason. However, you should always look for the more common reasons first, which may include any of these:
- Soil Erosion
One of the most common reasons to see basement floor cracks is soil erosion. If the soil underneath the basement has started to erode, which typically happens because of water running through the soil, it can open up a hole underneath the basement floor. This hole underneath the basement floor is a big reason for uneven floors.
However, uneven floors aren’t the only problem that can arise because of soil erosion. Due to the unevenness, you’re also more likely to start seeing basement cracking problems. When the basement doesn’t have enough stability underneath it, it’s more common to experience all sorts of basement problems.
- Expansive Soil Underneath the Basement
An expansive soil is one that expands very significantly when it comes in contact with water. Expansive soils underneath the basement can certainly lead to basement floor cracks: if something happens to cause more water to run underneath the basement, the expansive soil can heave upward. This massive swell of pressure can very easily crack the floor.
The best way to help with this is to ensure that the hydrostatic pressure building up underneath your home has a method of venting itself, so to speak. With options like an interior drainage system or other methods of venting that pressure, you can help avoid some of the problems that tend to arise with expansive soils.
For some people, the fix for basement floor cracks seems obvious: Just pour more concrete into the area. It will cover the cracks and make it impossible for the cracks to come back, right? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that, and treating it this way will make it much more difficult overall.
- An Aesthetic Fix
Sure, adding more concrete on top of the basement floor cracks will make it look better, but that DIY approach completely ignores the reasons for the basement floor cracks. Plus, it can damage the basement floor. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re more likely to use a fix that’s not in any way effective for the problem you’re experiencing.
A DIY fix can turn an otherwise salvageable basement slab foundation into a complete repour job. That’s why it’s a bad idea to try a DIY fix, especially when you don’t have a lot of experience with basement fixes or concrete fixes. Getting help from an expert from the beginning will be much more effective and likely save you money in the long run.
- A Foundational Fix
Although repouring the concrete over the basement floor will make it look less like there’s a crack, there still is a crack underneath that new concrete. You need to make sure that you’re investing in a foundational fix, not an aesthetic one. The best way to do that is through the help of an expert who can get to the root of the problem.
With the help of experts from Groundworks, you can make sure you have that foundational fix. Schedule an inspection today to learn more about what’s happening in your basement and how you can help. It’s the only way to truly fix your problems.
The Best Fix Is Through an Expert
At the end of the day, the answer to your basement floor crack problems is simple. You need to consult with an expert who can assess your basement for damage and give you a path to fixing any damage you have. Self-guided fixes just won’t cut it in this situation.
If you’re looking for a fix for your basement floor cracks, consult an expert for help. A Groundworks expert will have all the information they need to give you the right answer for your situation. Whenever you have cracking issues or issues of any other kind, request an inspection from a Groundworks expert to learn the whole story.