Here is how to know when to worry about cracks in your foundation.
Worrying about foundation cracks is a universal problem faced throughout the world and cannot be overemphasized as cracks will not go away magically.
In fact, they worsen over time and get bigger slowly that you might not notice in time. If you don’t pay close attention and if not properly and immediately tackled, could lead to hazardous consequences.
You might be tempted to let them be and forget, but, when you do so, there might be a possibility of the whole foundation wall failing and posing a high risk of expensive repairs resulting from damages you would have avoided initially.
When To Be Concerned About Foundation Cracks
Foundation cracks don’t get better with time and as such, the cost implication when trying to fix it doesn’t get cheaper either. So the earlier they are discovered and fixed, the better.
You might ask if worrying about foundation cracks is normal, well, you’re not wrong asking.
However, the answer to that isn’t as simple as a ‘’yes’’ or ‘’no’’ and depends to a large extent on the type of foundation you have, is it poured concrete or block?
Cracking is considered a common problem in real-life conditions, more so, it is very rare to find a crack-free structure in real-world situations.
Cracks in a foundation are possible even at an early age depending on the composition mix, level of environmental exposure, temperature difference, rate of hydration, and conditions for curing.
Understanding the Cracks in Foundation
Generally, there are two categories of cracks; structural cracks and non-structural cracks
This type of crack is caused due to errors from the design and overloading of components of the structure.
Structural cracks might pose difficulty when trying to resolve thereby endangering the stability of the building.
This type of cracks is generally a result of interior forces developed in the building due to condensation, moisture variation, and temperature changes.
This type of crack varies in width ranging from a thin hair crack that can be barely seen, thereby causing negligence, to a gaping crack.
These types of cracks are classified into thin cracks, medium cracks, and wide cracks.
What Causes Worry About Cracks in Foundation
It is however pertinent to know some of the causes of cracks in the foundation, and when to worry. You might want to know some of the causes of foundation cracks and how you can prevent them, right?
So, if your answer is yes, then here, you might want to consider the following;
You notice that when moisture is absorbed from the atmosphere, it expands building materials and tends to shrink when they dry. This is usually experienced when excess water is used during the concrete mixture.
To prevent shrinkages from occurring, you might want to opt to use a minimum quantity of water in mixing cement concrete.
Quantity of Cement
A general rule often used is that the richer the concrete cement mixer, the greater the shrinkage or drying will be.
But, on the contrary, the more the quantity of cement used, the greater the chances of cracks it poses.
You might be wondering how to prevent the chances of cracks in the foundation? Simple, avoid using an excessive quantity of cement when mixing for concrete cement.
Earthquakes are a natural phenomenon, which happens abruptly or as a result of certain geological events.
However, a sudden shift in the lower layer of the earth may result in a crack in the foundation.
You might be wondering to ask since we don’t plan for earthquakes, they happen naturally, so, how can you possibly prevent it?
Don’t stress too much, you only need to construct the foundation of the building on firm ground, the connecting beams at the foundation level, door level, and roof level should be tied up properly.
The Surrounding Vegetation
Your surrounding vegetation plays a pivotal role in determining the level of foundation cracks.
Deep-rooted and fast-growing trees connecting under the foundation are obvious reasons for cracks, these cracks occur in the soil due to condensation contained by the tree roots.
How can you prevent such you might ask? Well if you notice the sight of any sapling tree around, remove immediately and do not grow deep-rooted trees close to the building.
Poor Construction Practices
Due to carelessness, greed, ignorance, or share negligence, we often tend to experience the lack of good construction practiced by our construction workers.
It is however important for the construction workers to ensure a good quality service delivery.
How do you prevent such, you might ask? Here, you should ensure adequate and proper monitoring of construction workers and ensuring good quality of materials to be used for construction.
Generally, you observe that most building materials expand when they are warm or heated up, and when they are cold they contract.
The expansion and contraction are a result of temperature changes and thus, one of the leading causes of cracks in walls and foundations.
To prevent this, planned joints should be constructed carefully, that is slip joints, control joints, construction joints, and expansion joints during the construction period.
The materials used in the mixing of the concrete, constitute the cause of cracks in the foundation or walls of the building, as they contain active ingredients like silica and alkalis, which are also derived from cement hydration, mixtures, or sourced externally.
This interplay of chemicals reacts and results in cracks in the foundation or walls.
Determining the pH content of the soil is paramount because when the sulfate content in the soil exceeds a certain percentage, or in groundwater, you use a very dense concrete increasing the richness of mix to prevent cracking due to corrosion in reinforcement i.e. don’t use salt water in mixing the concrete.
Usually, you notice cracks in the foundation when there is a large difference in settlement of foundation either due to local variation like supporting soil, a low factor of safety in the design of the foundation, and or unequal bearing pressure under different parts of the structure.