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What Causes Cracked Concrete?

Cracked Concrete

Concrete provides support as the footer and foundation, making it the most important part of the home’s structure. If there is any type of problem such as cracked concrete in those areas, the entire home can be damaged.

Cracks in concrete are commonly seen in sidewalks and slabs, but there may be serious problems when they develop on footers and foundations. Cracked concrete in these areas needs to be addressed immediately. Here are some cracked concrete causes that could call for repairs.

Inadequate Footing Leads to Need for Foundation Repair

A home is only as solid as its foundation, and its foundation is only as good as its footer. The footer should provide a strong base for the foundation without shifting or settling. If the footer begins to break apart, the foundation will begin to settle and crack as well.

Problems with the footer are usually a result of concrete poured too thin, in wet areas, or with insufficient steel reinforcement. Quality concrete repair work can stabilize the footer and permit repair of the foundation. The first step is to eliminate the water problem. From there, the need for repairs is easier to determine.

Inadequate Reinforcement Causes Cracked Concrete

Concrete is a very strong material in terms of bearing weight. Roads, bridges, and buildings of all types place huge amounts of weight on concrete with no problems. Although concrete performs quite well against compression, it is less effective in resisting twisting shearing motions. For that reason, steel reinforcement bars (known as “rebar” for short) are used inside the concrete to provide that extra strength.

When concrete does not include enough rebar, any shifting or twisting of the building will cause cracked concrete that will lead to a need for foundation repairs.

Concrete Repair in Shifting Soil

Footers are dug deep and poured on solid soil, bedrock if possible. This ensures that the natural shifting of the upper layers of the soil will not cause damage. No matter how well a footer is built, it cannot resist the constant motion of topsoil. Instead, it must be poured on more solid ground, which requires more digging during the construction phase. 

Unfortunately, many less-reputable contractors won’t take the extra effort because they know the foundation will hold together long enough to get the customer’s money. Years later, the homeowner finds cracking concrete and needs concrete repair. Properly stabilized, a footer like this can hold together well enough to support repairs, but the area must be dry before any work will show improvements.

Soil Moisture Tops the List of Cracked Concrete Causes

The key to a strong footer and foundation is solid soil beneath it. Topsoil is too porous, absorbing water with each rainfall and slowly settling, shifting, and twisting around. Concrete that is poured on topsoil will never have a solid base of support, making moisture one of the most problematic cracked concrete causes.

Wet soil is also a problem, even when it is deeper than topsoil. As an example, if an underground water source like an old well keeps the soil wet on one end of a foundation with dryer soil at the other end, the wet end will settle and cause cracks in the concrete.

Any effort to improve the condition of concrete cracked by moisture must include a plan for removing the excess water. There may be a need to divert water away on the surface, or it may be best to construct drainage systems to carry the water away before it can cause settling. 

One of the greatest threats to the structural stability of a home is cracking concrete. When the footer or foundation begins to break apart, it’s just a matter of time until problems begin to develop above ground. The brick can begin to crack apart and even fall away. Windows and doors may not close properly. Drywall may begin to split, showing unsightly cracks through the paint.

Minimizing these impacts requires immediate action. If you detect any signs of cracking concrete in your home, chances are there is a moisture problem that is contributing to the issue. Ground Up Foundation Repair can assess your situation and remove problematic moisture to stabilize your concrete and allow repairs to be made.