When you start noticing cracks in the basement floor, you’ll probably wonder what’s causing them. If you’re like most people, you probably think of cracks as being caused by impact. But this isn’t the most common cause for basement floor cracks. What happens to cause cracks in a concrete basement floor?
These are the most common reasons.
The first reason is something that’s unfortunately pretty common. Home settling is something that’s usually going to happen to some degree with many homes. Homeowners may choose to ignore this because it is so common. But if it spirals out of control, it’s relatively easy for it to become a serious problem.
If you see cracks in the basement floor of an old house, for example, it’s likely that you’re seeing those because of many years of a home settling. On the other hand, if a new home starts to settle very rapidly, cracks can form in the basement floor because it’s not prepared for the shifting and the home’s design may not have been well planned out or the construction crew tried to cut corners.
Water is a powerful force, and your basement floor may have to handle many different types of water damage. For example, if you have a flooded basement that remains flooded for a relatively long amount of time, you might end up with basement floor cracks because of the water’s impact on the floor.
It’s also possible for water damage to turn into ice damage. If water moves into the concrete, then freezes, that water expands as it freezes. The expansion can cause concrete cracks, including a specific cracking pattern called “spalling,” which flakes off pieces of the concrete from the top.
A very specific type of water damage is the damage water does just by being at rest. That’s what experts call “hydrostatic pressure.” Water weighs more than eight pounds per gallon, which means when it presses in on a surface, it’s going to exert a lot of pressure. That’s enough pressure to crack concrete.
Another form of hydrostatic pressure happens when the ground underneath the concrete swells with water, usually after rain or flooding. That expansion can be enough to crack the concrete from the bottom up. In this situation, you also run the risk of having water come up through the concrete, which can cause other types of water damage.
Concrete is very strong, but it’s only supposed to hold a certain amount of weight. It’s also important that the concrete holds weight evenly throughout the concrete slab. What happens if the person who initially planned your home didn’t plan it properly and made it bear weight in the wrong way?
This can lead to serious basement floor cracks. If the weight isn’t spread out properly across the floor, the basement floor can start to crack, especially in areas where it’s holding more weight than it’s supposed to. Even if it doesn’t crack, you might start seeing uneven settling, which is a different but similarly impactful type of structural issue.
Whenever you do home renovations, you need to think about your home’s current structure. It’s common for home renovations to add weight to the home — for example, if you switch from carpet flooring to tile flooring, you may add weight to the floor. If you don’t, you can end up with serious structural problems.
It’s very important to pay attention to your basement floor for some time after you do home renovation. If you start to notice floor cracks suddenly showing up after the renovation, contact a JES expert immediately. It may be evidence that the renovation was too heavy for the foundation.