Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Cracking Concrete
When it comes to home improvement, homeowners often prioritize things like leaks, mold and mildew, or pest control, as they should. But what about cracking concrete? It’s an unappealing look, to be sure, but in the midst of a homeowner’s busy life, they might struggle to find time to repair a small, cosmetic problem with their home. After all, it is concrete. It will probably be fine, right?
The problem is that cracking concrete is more than just a small cosmetic flaw. It often speaks to a deeper issue, such as a leveling issue or even a foundational problem. Cracking concrete can be a serious issue for your home, and if left ignored, it will only get worse until it is truly unavoidable. In today’s blog, let’s discuss cracking concrete and why you shouldn’t ignore it.
Causes of Concrete Cracks
One of the first questions to ask is: why does concrete crack in the first place? Some homeowners assume it’s simply a matter of age and wear. After all, even the strongest materials eventually become worn down. But what if you have fairly new concrete that has begun to crack? You might write that off as poor quality concrete, and that might be true, but what makes it more prone to cracking?
The truth is, concrete can crack for a variety of reasons. To understand how your concrete crack happened, you first need to know the different causes of concrete cracks:
- Shrinkage. These are thin, subtle cracks in the concrete, that can nevertheless be dangerous. They usually shoot out from corners or around fixtures built into the concrete. Before concrete hardens, it is in its “plastic stage.” If the concrete mixture is too wet, however, the slab can shrink, causing cracks.
- Heat expansion. Heat expands…and expands most materials, including concrete. However, if concrete has no room to expand, it can instead begin to crack. Expansion joints can help to alleviate the pressure of heat expansion and prevent concrete cracks.
- Weak concrete. It is true that everything becomes worn down in time, and concrete is no exception. If your concrete isn’t strong enough to withstand the elements, it will begin to crack.
- Poor temperature. Concrete is also impacted by the temperature outside…and the temperature of the ground on which it is poured. If the temperature is too hot, concrete will dry too fast, causing shrinkage and cracks. Concrete poured on frozen ground can cause the wet mixture to freeze, which can lead to an uneven drying process and possible cracks later.
- Concrete wall cracks. Especially in the basement , concrete wall cracks are a beast of their own, and could be very concerning for the structure of your home. Horizontal concrete wall cracks can be a result of foundational soil pushing up on the walls of the basement, while vertical cracks herald the settling foundation.
The Problems With Concrete Cracks
So, there are a wide variety of ways that concrete cracks can occur, but what exactly does that mean for your concrete surfaces? They might not look very appealing, but if you rarely use your basement or the cracks are thin enough, are they really an issue that you need to fix right away? The answer is yes. As we discussed with concrete wall cracks, they could be a sign of bigger issues, such as a need to stabilize your foundational soil or level your home. It’s always a good idea to bring a professional in to take a look at the cracks and determine the cause and what that means for your home.
Another potential issue is water permeation. The more cracks there are in your concrete, the easier it is for water to get in, which can damage your foundational soil as well as the structure of your home or the concrete outside your home. That water can, in turn, cause more concrete cracks by causing swelling and shrinking in the soils below the concrete.
If you have concrete walkways outside your home, then there is also the safety hazard posed by concrete cracks. The longer concrete cracks are left alone, the more they’re likely to expand, making the concrete uneven. This can lead to more potential for friends, family, or even yourself to trip over the surface of that concrete and hurt yourself. If you have a business with concrete walkways, rather than a residence, it’s even more important to minimize the chances of tripping and falling, since you could potentially be held liable for any injuries.
Finally, for residences, concrete cracks can devalue your home. The housing market is a competitive one, and homeowners have to constantly stay on top of their curb appeal as well as current trends in order to ensure their home doesn’t lose its value over time. Concrete cracks can be unappealing for all the reasons listed above, as well as simply an unattractive look, which can lessen your home value. If you want to maintain your ROI when you sell your home, make sure that you continue to maintain your concrete.
How To Repair Concrete Cracks
If you need a simple concrete crack repair, we at Childers Brothers recommend epoxy crack repair. This can be applied within the crack to seal it up and prevent water permeation. Epoxy crack repair does more than simply seal a crack. It is so strong that it strengthens the surrounding concrete, helping to prevent cracks in the future. Good concrete coating can also help to reduce the chance of water permeation.
However, as previously referenced, sometimes a concrete crack is a symptom of a larger problem. For instance, if you have horizontal basement wall crack, you likely have an issue with swollen foundation soil, rather than an issue with the concrete itself. Before anything else, you should use soil stabilization to change the atoms in the soil to keep them from taking in water and swelling. For vertical basement wall cracks, you may need to raise the foundation by repairing your piers and beams or utilizing a new house levelling method such as helical pier leveling. Occasionally, cracks in concrete may be a result of sunken concrete, which can make for uneven steps and potential safety hazards. For this, an injection of slab lifting foam can resolve the issue. After these steps, you can apply epoxy crack repair.
Ultimately, the important thing is to have a great concrete crack repair contractor. At Childers Brothers, we know all about what causes concrete cracks and the best way to fix them…as well as any issues they might be hiding. So don’t ignore your cracking concrete. Contact us today for more information or to get started with a free estimate.