Cracks in the foundation aren’t uncommon in Roanoke, VA. A lot of people experience this structural issue at some point. You can expect cracks to form within the first year of building your home. They will appear on the foundation walls and intersections and near windows.
Starting small, the cracks will increase in size, and that’s when they will start causing problems. Mark and date the ends of these cracks to track them. This way, you will be able to tell whether they’re cosmetic in nature or indicate a more serious issue. So why do cracks form?
All concrete foundations lose water with time. As they do, they develop small cracks. These types of cracks are cosmetic in nature, meaning they’re not structural. You can fix them by applying epoxy or cement along the cracks.
Earthquakes are one of the worst geologic disasters and responsible for foundation cracks and damage. They occur when the tectonic plates under the earth move, causing seismic waves that make the ground shake. These tremors can move the stratum on which the foundation rests, destabilizing your home. Floors may sink or become uneven after an earthquake. A small tremor may also widen existing gaps or cracks on the foundation.
You can expect your home to settle a bit uniformly after construction. Foundation design and soil type determine its tolerance level. Seasonal changes and soil properties can change, meaning the foundation may no longer be able to support the structure above. Homes built on poorly compacted soil also experience settlement.
Whether from a leak, storm, or poor drainage, excess water will always cause problems to your concrete foundation. Waterlogged soils can exert hydrostatic pressure on your foundation. When the pressure becomes too much, the foundation will buckle or crack.
Summer heat can also take a toll on your foundation. During the day, the sun will heat up the soil. Heat buildup will cause the concrete to expand during the day. The concrete will cool and shrink at night to its original position. This cycle of heating and cooling tears apart the foundation, resulting in cracks.
Winter cold causes frost heave, which has a devastating effect on your concrete foundation. The soils expand and freeze, and the resulting shift triggers foundation cracks. The upheaval will tilt floors and displace concrete floor slabs. Concrete freezes at around 18 degrees and thaws at around 35 degrees.
Another reason you’re seeing cracks is because of expansive soils. These types of soils contain water-absorbing minerals. When they come into contact with water, their volume increases. The expansion exerts pressure on your foundation, causing it to crack. The swelling capacity of the soil depends on the degree of saturation, drying intensity, ground load, and the thickness of the soil stratum. When the weather warms up, these soils lose water through evaporation and shrink. This shrinkage can lead to structural deformations.
Grading gaffes or poor soil excavation can direct water to your home’s foundation. Water will weaken the concrete foundation and trigger cracks. Make sure the ground around your home slopes six inches after every ten feet. Talk to your landscaper if you need help with re-grading.
Trees beautify the yard. But their roots do compete with the soil for moisture during summer, causing the foundation to sink. The settlement can cause drywall cracks and windows or doors to stick in their frames. You can avoid foundational problems by cutting down all deep-rooted trees and shrubs around your home. If you’re thinking of planting trees, make sure they’re 20 feet away from the house.
Repair Your Foundation with Expert Help
If you are unsure of the origin of foundation cracks or are concerned that they’re growing bigger, get in touch with the team at JES Foundation Repair. Our foundation repair experts will perform a free foundation inspection to determine what’s going on with your home and provide you with a free repair quote for recommended solutions.