Be Prepared for Foundation Cracks
‘Tis the Season
For many of us, winter has already firmly established itself for the season. It’s freezing outside, and the wind, snow and ice are right around the corner. That means ground water in your soil is going to be freezing and expanding, increasing the need for foundation repair this winter season. This can cause foundation cracks in your home, especially if you have an older foundation.
To add to the potential problem, for those of you who have some form of sump pump in your basement or crawl space, you may have noticed something: your sump pump is still pumping out water. Interestingly enough, only water in the upper sections of the soil surrounding your foundation freezes. The soil closer to your basement floor retains some heat, allowing water to flow. This means that while the upper layers of soil are freezing and expanding against your foundation, any foundation cracks created by this pressure may still be able to leak into your home. Not good.
This added pressure against your foundation in the winter months is a phenomenon known as frost heave. As stated above, frost heave occurs when the upper sections of soil freeze and expand. This can have huge ramifications for the long term health of your foundation walls. For the skeptics out there, frost heave can cause freezing water in the soil to expand by as much as 9%!
This kind of stress can cause both hairline and larger structural cracks to form in your home. Hairline cracks are just that; very thin cracks usually running vertically or nearly vertically up your concrete foundation wall or within the mortar joints of cinder block walls. Larger structural cracks will generally be greater than 1/8″ in diameter and appear horizontally across one more more foundation walls, or in the shape of a “V” across the corner joint where two foundation walls meet.
Take Action Before It Gets Worse
The best way to avert a potential foundation disaster, and yes it does happen, is to take preventative action at the first sign of trouble.
In some cases, hairline cracks don’t really leak or produce any kind of additional moisture in the home. For those fortunate homeowners, all you’d really want to do is take a trip to your local hardware store and pick up a few tubes of masonry caulk. Using a caulk gun and a wet brush, apply a thick bead of caulk on top of the entire crack. Then, dip the brush in water and brush the caulk into the crack. Some water will run a bit, so be sure to cover any carpet you may have in the area. And, voila- all done.
Leaking and Structural Cracks
These foundation cracks present more severe issues. If you notice that cracks in your foundation are leaking, or greater than 1/8″ in diameter, do your home a favor and call your local basement waterproofing and/or foundation repair professional. They will be able to give you a free, professional prognosis and estimate for repair. Your problem will only get worse over time, be sure to have it at least looked at! Contact us if you have any questions about foundation cracks and foundation repair!