When it comes to homeownership, keeping your property safe and dry can be surprisingly difficult. From faulty basement windows to plumbing floods, dampness can find many different pathways into your home. Cracks in a property’s basement floor or foundation can allow a surprising amount of water into your basement. In fact, if the cracks are severe, they can lead to standing water in a property’s basement. Thankfully, the solution to this issue is relatively simple, even if the damage looks severe.
What Can Cause Cracks in a Basement Floor
The most common causes of damage to a basement floor are found within a property’s foundation or structure. The placement of the cracks and the manner in which cracks spread can be incredibly helpful in identifying the possible causes of the damage. The most common causes of cracks in a basement floor are:
Foundation settlement occurs when excessive soil dehydration causes it to shrink. As the soil shrinks, it can crack, and the chasms that open up remove support from your foundation in many places. In this case, sections of a property’s foundation can settle into the cracks. This, in turn, can crack the basement floor above it. If it does not, the water that seeps up through the cracks in the foundation may eventually cause the basement floor to crack over time.
Subsidence occurs when the soil under a property becomes so saturated that it cannot support it. When this happens, the property’s foundation can begin to sink. Of course, it will not usually sink evenly, and the way that uneven sinking causes a property to tilt can put an uneven strain on the structure of a home. This will inevitably lead to cracks forming not just in the property foundation and basement floor, but in walls too.
- Excess Hydrostatic Pressure
Excessive levels of hydrostatic pressure can cause cracks to form in your basement floor and walls. This is most common when the perimeter of your property is consistently flooded, or ice and snow pile up around your property.
- Foundation Heave
Foundation heave can occur in several ways. First, it can be caused by frost. Sudden freezes can cause your foundation to bulge upward, cracking both your foundation and basement floor. Foundation heave can also be caused by tree root invasion.
Whatever the cause of cracks in your basement floor, the inevitable result will be water and dampness. Water and dampness in your property can cause many serious issues, but the most common and pressing are:
- Mold and mildew formation
- Musty odors
- Pest infestation
- Rotting or warping floorboards
- Decreased energy efficiency
These side effects of dampness can also contribute to other more complex co-occurring issues. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to prevent a cracked basement floor from significantly impacting the climate inside your home.
Problem Signs to Look out for With Basement Floor Cracks
If your basement floor is cracking, there are some elements that you want to look for so you can tell whether the crack is serious or not. Here are four telltale signs that might indicate a serious problem that’s causing the basement floor crack. If you’re lacking these signs, it’s probably a hairline crack, but if you’re seeing them, it’s a good idea to talk to an expert.
One of the biggest signs of serious basement floor cracking problems is when cracks start to spread. Spreading cracks indicate that there’s continuing pressure on a basement floor, which isn’t the case in hairline fractures. If you notice the cracks in your basement floor spreading, that means there’s a problem you’re not noticing yet.
Similarly, it’s crucial that you notice whether cracks are becoming deeper. The rule of thumb is that a crack stops being a “hairline crack” when it’s large enough to fit a business card inside. If the crack used to be so thin it was almost unnoticeable, but it’s now large enough for you to clearly notice it and find it without any help, there’s probably an issue you need to address.
Have you started to notice standing water in your basement that wasn’t there before? If the crack in your basement floor goes all the way through the concrete slab, it may allow water to come through it. Water is great at getting through very tiny cracks as long as there’s a clear path from one side to the other. Standing water may be one of the first signs you notice when you’re experiencing issues with basement floor cracks.
Floor Cracks Alongside Other Problems
Typically, if you have hairline cracks in your basement floor, those cracks will be one of the only problems you notice, especially in the floor. What if you notice those cracks alongside other issues? That can indicate problems far beyond just the floor. Whether those problems are uneven floors on the first floor, issues with maintaining humidity levels, or even a high electricity bill, these other problems may point to the fact that these cracks aren’t just hairline.
Additional Problem Signs to Look For
There are a number of other problem signs which you can look out for when you see floor cracks in your home which, if you see them, will help to build a picture of just what is going on in your property. The most common co-occurring problem signs which you might see in a home with floor cracks are:
- Dampness and Humidity
If you have floor cracks in your home, there is a high chance that you will also notice problem signs like dampness and humidity around your home. Issues like these form in tandem with floor cracks because of the increased chance that moisture will seep into your home from outside. This can cause standing water, dampness, high relative humidity, and a whole host of other problems.
- Mold Formation
Mold spores are everywhere and can take root and spread in almost any environment – all they need is organic matter and moisture. This means that a basement which is humid or damp as a result of floor cracks can be a perfect breeding ground for mold spores. Most mold is fairly harmless, but some species can be actively toxic, so it is best to minimize contact and remove mold quickly.
- Uneven Flooring
As cracking is usually a symptom of structural damage and movement, unevenness and sinking in a property’s flooring is very common where there are floor cracks and damage. Unevenness is also a big issue in its own right, as it presents a real hazard to you and your family. Most particularly it presents a tripping hazard which could lead to serious injury.
If you see any of these problem signs, it is time to contact a professional to assess the condition of your home and make any necessary repairs to your flooring.
Expert Repairs Offer Benefits
While it may be tempting to try to fix small cracks alone, it’s a good idea to opt for an expert from the beginning Home DIY fixes are a great option for many areas of the home, but structural issues like floor cracks are particularly challenging and pose certain risks. Repairing these issues is a complex process and there are a number of common mistakes that can be made.
The most common mistakes which are made during the repair of floor cracks are the overcorrection of deviation and the misdiagnosing of underlying and co-occurring issues. Identifying all of the contributing factors and correcting damage and deviation to an appropriate degree is a matter of experience as much as training. This is why it can be particularly beneficial to hire a professional in these cases.
There are many potential causes of cracking in a basement floor, but they all really boil down to the same thing—excessive pressure concentrated in the wrong places. Whether this pressure is applied by the soil under a home, by water, or by an external force, the result is the same—cracking and dampness.
- Hydrostatic Pressure
The soil surrounding your foundation is susceptible to absorbing a lot of water over the years, whether this be through excessive rainfall, storms, or underground water sources. This can cause immense hydrostatic pressure against the walls of your basement and your property foundation can cause cracks to form and widen. In turn, this damage can spread out to other parts of your home and negatively affect them as well.
There is yet another form of hydrostatic pressure that can affect your foundation and basement. Water can easily become trapped in the pores of the concrete foundation. When winter comes, this water will easily freeze over, and the expanding ice can also cause your foundation to crack from within.
- Tree Root Invasion
Tree roots can be shockingly destructive when they start interfering with a property’s structure. It will not matter if the tree you have in your yard is large or small. Tree roots of any size tree will present a problem the longer they are left to spread out and grow if you do not take steps to control that growth.
If a tree root makes its way under your foundation, it can cause it to heave upwards and crack your foundation and basement floor from below. You may even find that the tree roots will grow through the cracks they made and wreck your foundation even more. Once this happens, you might find other structures in your home slowly deteriorating over time, too. This is why you need to call the foundation experts at Innovative Basement Authority for repairs as soon as you notice any cracks along your basement.
The most obvious signs of foundation damage, of course, are spreading cracks in your basement floor and walls. These cracks, and where they lie, can help you to understand the nature of the damage. Of course, there are other, subtler signs of damage that you may also be able to catch, too.
If the air in your basement is humid, you find the walls are wet, or there is dampness around the cracks in your basement flooring, this is a sign that water is seeping up from under the floor. As foundation damage is one of the most common causes of cracks in a basement floor or walls, it is important that you learn to recognize it. If you do not take steps to deal with it, your basement will face frequent flooding.
Not only that, but the constant water damage can also create other problems, as well. For one, you might detect a musty smell from all the standing water or sewage infiltrating your basement. You might also find mold, mildew, or even pests infesting your basement, too.
- Ruined Infrastructure
If your foundation becomes damaged, the rest of your home will start to show signs of damage, too. For instance, you might notice your floor starting to sag or bounce in places. This will often be accompanied by cracks in the corners of your basement. This occurs due to the foundation shifting or even splintering apart your floor’s support beams (also known as joists). These joists carry the weight of you, your family, and all your belongings, which is why it is so crucial to protect them alongside your foundation.
Similarly, you might notice that your doors and windows are harder to open. A damaged foundation can cause your doorways and windowsills to tilt, effectively trapping your doors and windows in their frames. You might find yourself exerting more effort just to open them as a result. You might also find your walls starting to tilt over time, too, which often means your house is close to collapsing in on itself.
If you have noticed spreading cracks in your basement flooring, don’t panic. This may be a serious issue, but it is not a disaster. There are many solutions available to fix cracks in a basement floor and prevent them from recurring at a later date. We at Innovative Basement Authority specialize in foundation repair and basement waterproofing measures. Our team is expert in identifying the precise causes of damage and dampness in a basement and will be able to provide you with a solution that is entirely tailored to your property and situation.
When it comes to fixing a cracked and leaky basement floor there are four basic steps our team always takes.
Investigation and Drainage
Investigating the precise causes of cracks in a basement floor is an important step that cannot be missed. If all the contributing factors are not discovered and dealt with, the cracks will simply recur. The list of possible factors include foundation heave, hydrostatic pressure, settlement, and subsidence. Each of these will cause different secondary problem signs to show themselves.
Our team members are very skilled at identifying underlying causes. Once we know exactly what is causing the cracks in your basement floor, our team will take steps to prepare it for repair. This means draining any standing water in your basement to ensure your space is in the best possible shape to go ahead with repairs.
Waterproofing and Restoration
Waterproofing measures are a necessary step when it comes to repairing this kind of damage in your basement. If you have foundation damage, this will need to be repaired before we can finalize the repairs to your basement floor. If your foundation is intact, there are several potential waterproofing measures that can be taken to help manage the water seeping into your property through the cracks in your basement floor.
Once the source of the cracks has been addressed and the dampness in your basement is under control, our team will restore your floors to their former state. By backfilling cracks and applying fresh concrete, our team will leave you with a smooth and flawless finish. You should let this new layer cure for three days before you walk on it or apply weight to the surface.
Let Innovative Basement Authority Deal with Your Cracked Basement Floors
If you have noticed cracks in your basement floor, please do not hesitate to contact Innovative Basement Authority for a free inspection and repair estimate. Our team is well-versed in foundation and basement issues, and they will be able to diagnose your home’s issues with a thorough evaluation. Then we will use the best solutions to repair and protect your home so it will be a safe living environment for you and your family.