As you celebrate Labor Day and back to school time for the little ones, take some time yourself to learn a little something new. As they say, it is best to lead by example and your brain needs new things to learn to keep it young. Next time you are doing a little laboring around the perimeter of your home take a look around at your foundation walls. You are bound to find a crack. Why? Cracks in your foundation happen!
Builders approach us all the time to help them fix the foundations they just poured. It’s not that they do a bad job – it’s just the nature of the beast.
Most of Hampton Roads’ homes have poured concrete foundations. Having waterproofed and repaired many foundations we have seen all sorts of cracked foundations. Some cracking is normal, it is when settling happens that you need to enlist the expert and call AMC911.
Anytime you core thru the foundation for installation of sewer, electric and gas lines, it weakens the concrete, which can result in cracking. Cracks are also commonly found angling off corners of crawl space or basement vents or windows. These areas are usually the first place we look when conducting a foundation analysis.
In simple terms, soil saturation = wet ground. Your foundation walls are supported by footings. The footings are at the base of the walls, and hold up your house. When the soil under the footings becomes oversaturated, the footings “settle”, causing the walls to crack. Oversaturation can also cause the earth next to your foundation to expand in volume. Many foundations are not built to withstand that extra pressure. The excess weight of the soil can force the foundation to push inward. This is identified by diagonal cracks coming off corners. The leading causes for oversaturation are improper grading, bad gutters or the need for underground sump pump and downspout extensions.
On the other hand, not enough moisture in the soil can also cause foundation cracks. When the soil is desiccated, in other words, when moisture is drawn from the soil, usually as the result of a drought, the soil itself will shrink and cause foundation walls to shift outward and footings to settle. Such soil desiccation occurs when trees, shrubs and other plantings near the foundation send root systems deeper into the ground in search of moisture, drawing it from the soil in areas that normally remain untouched. So, just because we live in Hampton Roads known for its humidity, do not assume you cannot have dry soils around your foundation.
Yup as solid as concrete looks, it shrinks and expands. The science of pouring concrete involves many factors and variables. Since water is used when concrete is mixed, there is an inherent expansion and subsequent contraction of the concrete when it dries. Many factors can affect the drying process, including the type of aggregate, mix of the concrete and humidity levels.
In life, timing is everything. Same holds true for concrete. Imagine your builder ran short on concrete when pouring your foundation – and the next ready mix truck didn’t arrive until the first batch started to harden. Your foundation would no longer be monolithic (one piece) at that point. A cold joint would naturally form, allowing water to easily seep through.
Death and taxes are two certainties in life. Often, so is a cracked foundation. Fortunately, the solution is usually very simple, especially when you have AMC911, the expert you can rely on. Now your brain and your home will thank you J