Have you started to see cracks in your basement floor? These cracks can indicate a serious problem: your house could be settling. If you just leave that problem alone, it can damage your home’s foundation for good, which can be dangerous.
Concrete basement floor cracks can encompass a wide variety of types and severities. If your basement floor is cracking, you might not know what you can do to fix it, especially if you’re a homeowner without a lot of experience in home repair.
Basement floor cracks indicate that you have house settling problems, which can damage your home’s foundation. If left alone your basement floor cracks will continue to grow, creating additional problems throughout your home.
Seeing a crack in the basement floor can immediately raise a lot of questions for homeowners. What causes cracks in the basement floor? Should I be worried about this crack on my floor? At what point do cracks on a basement floor become serious?
Cracked Basement Floor FAQ
If you’re worried about any of these questions, don’t worry — you can find answers.
When you’re trying to discern whether a crack in your basement floor needs immediate attention, you have to pay attention to a variety of features that may inform your decision. It’s not necessarily as cut and dried as it looks; that’s why a JES foundation repair expert can often do this job more effectively. If you’re trying to decide whether a crack is a cause for concern, you need to pay attention to these elements.
Size of the Crack
How wide and deep is the crack in question? Typically, “hairline” cracks, or cracks narrower than an eighth of an inch, aren’t cause for concern. These may happen because of concrete shrinking, which is normal. On the other hand, cracks larger than three-eighths of an inch require urgent attention. Anything between the two should prompt an inspection from JES.
Location of the Crack
Where are you seeing the crack? Cracks that span both the wall and the floor are more concerning than cracks that only stay on the wall or the floor. More contained groups of cracks are also less likely to showcase serious structural problems than cracks that spread out across the entire basement floor. The location of the crack can help a JES expert pinpoint the reason for the crack rather than its severity.
New Movement or Widening
This is a hugely important component to pay attention to. An old crack widening may sometimes be more cause for alarm than a brand-new crack. If you do have hairline cracks, monitor those cracks to make sure they don’t get bigger and surpass the one-sixteenth of an inch mark. Any basement floor cracks you have that are getting wider should prompt an inspection from a JES foundation repair expert.
Age of the Home
Consider how old the home is before you decide whether you’re dealing with a serious issue. Old homes tend to have more cracks, but also tend to be able to withstand less than a new home. Existing cracks in the basement floor of an old house, for example, maybe there for many years with no worries. But if you see new cracks or worsening old ones, you might need to talk to a JES expert. As a rule of thumb, always take the new movement of basement floor cracks very seriously, whether it’s an old or new home.
Additional New Problems
You should pay attention to any secondary problems that might start happening as a result of foundation problems. For example, are you starting to notice sinking concrete in other areas of your home? Have you started seeing leaning or bowing walls in your home? Does it seem like your home is more humid and stuffier than it used to be? These are all signs of foundation problems. Even if you don’t see any cracks you would usually consider worrisome, these signs should prompt you to call JES.
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.
Look through the gallery to see some cracks in different foundation floors. You can see extremely deep cracks, more shallow cracks, concrete slabs with just one crack, and a concrete slab with a web of cracks. These are all different in severity and significance, and all require different fixes. Make sure you don’t end up with difficult-to-fix cracks in your floor by contacting JES before it becomes serious.
If you have cracks on your basement floor, you should think about the different options you have available for fixing them. There are many potential options for people struggling with basement floor cracks. Some of these fixes work well, while others, unfortunately, don’t.
Which solutions work, and which ones should you pass over? Here are some of the commonly suggested solutions.
A concrete patch typically goes over a crack to smooth it down and make it less noticeable from the outside. This concrete patch is typically DIY-friendly, which is probably one of the reasons it’s become so popular for people who have basement floor cracks.
The thing is, if you have a crack that’s indicative of a structural problem, a concrete patch isn’t going to do anything to fix it. It may harm your basement floor because you won’t be able to see whether the crack widens or stays the same. Don’t use this option unless a JES expert tells you to.
Caulk is a common option for many DIYers looking to cover over an unsightly crack or blemish. It can be useful in some situations, especially if something’s moved or come off not because of a structural problem, but because there wasn’t enough support for it in the first place.
However, as with a concrete patch, caulking can be very dangerous in this situation. You need to handle cracks in your foundation floor with the understanding that there’s probably something contributing to the problem. Any time you have basement floor cracks, don’t just cover over the crack unless a JES expert confirms it’s only a cosmetic problem.
If you have a significant series of cracks on your basement floor, you may have no option but to replace the concrete entirely. This is an arduous process that’s very expensive and time-consuming, but if you’ve ignored the previous cracks for so long that they’ve spread throughout the entire structure, a full replacement may be your only option.
It’s not ideal to replace the concrete instead of repairing it. This is typically a last-ditch way to save the home. The good news is, it’s almost always avoidable. If you get in contact with a JES foundation repair expert when you first start seeing the cracks, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to avoid this.
JES offers many underpinning options for cracked basement floors and other foundation problems, especially those where the main problem is that your home is sinking. You may be able to take advantage of Helical Piers, Push Piers, or Slab Piers, depending on what suits your specific situation.
Everyone’s situation is different, but underpinning can be an effective method of supporting your home so it doesn’t continue to sink. In some situations, you may even be able to use it to lift a sunken home back to its initial position. Talk to a JES foundation repair expert if you think this might be viable for you.
Get a Personalized Solution for Your Concrete Problems
The only way to truly get a personalized solution for cracks in your concrete basement floor is to talk to a professional. There’s no way to get all your information from a website. This information can serve to help you understand a little more about what’s going on in your basement, but it can’t diagnose the problems specific to your basement.
If you’re seeing basement floor cracks, whether it’s cracks throughout your basement floor or just one or two cracks on the basement floor, you need to talk to an expert. It’s tough to know whether those cracks will be extremely serious or much easier to handle. Talk to a JES expert today and schedule your free inspection for more information.
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