Cracks in Your Home’s Foundation

Posted by Robyn on 3/24/2014
Because foundations are rigid, they tend to crack over time. Minor cracks, though unsightly, are not necessarily cause for alarm. Major cracks, however, indicate some type of significant movement within the home’s foundation and can ultimately undermine the home’s structural integrity.  It’s never a good idea to simply ignore cracks in a foundation or concrete slab.  It’s essential that you take the time to fill in all cracks as soon as they appear, to stop them from spreading or getting wider, and to prevent serious structural issues in your home.
 
When You Need a Professional
If your foundation or structural slab has an excessive number of smaller cracks or cracks that are larger than 1/4 inch wide, you should have it examined by a structural or civil engineer to determine the causes and extent of the damage and to determine the source. If the damage is severe, consult a geotechnical or soils engineer, who can suggest solutions to correct the problem once and for all.
 
Even in ideal conditions, concrete moves some, although it doesn’t always result in a crack, and concrete expands when the weather is hot and it shrinks when the weather is cold and frigid.  This is why it’s of great importance, when repairing these cracks, to use a product that will give a little.  The more elastic the product is, the more it will give, and the less likely it will be that you’ll see the crack reappear.  The larger the crack, the more important it will be to choose your patch material wisely.
 
How to Patch Your Cracks

1.            Clean the area and get rid of any loose chips.  If the crack is wider than an eighth of an inch, use a small sledgehammer and a cold chisel to chip away all loose material.
2.            Follow the directions on the product to prepare for the patching process
3.            Mist the crack with water and then inject and trowel the patching paste into the crack.  Wetting the crack with water before installing a patching product prevents the moisture in the patch material from being drawn out by dry concrete, which causes the patch material to crack and not form a solid bond.
4.            Use a trowel to scrape away any excess paste and create a smooth and uniform finish.  If the existing concrete surrounding the patch is rough, you can match the finish by sweeping it with a broom.
Clean up your tools and buckets immediately to avoid the patching compound drying in and on them.

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