Have you taken the time to look for cracks around your basement lately? Many Hamilton homeowners, especially those with unfinished basements may never look past the boxes that are stacked up against their foundation. Even so, it’s a good idea to check out your basement walls once in a while because you just never know when you’re going to find a crack.
And if you find a basement crack in your Hamilton home, what should you do about it? Well, it all depends on your situation – are you about to sell or finish the basement? Perhaps you’re concerned that crack may get bigger…
So, you found a crack in your basement wall. What do you do now, fix it right away or wait and see? Before you do anything you should consider the different types of basement wall cracks and the type of foundation you have:
Thin Cracks – When you find a crack in the basement wall, get a ruler or tape measure and measure its width. If the crack is less than 1/8” wide, it probably does not represent a structural problem with your foundation BUT it could be a source of seepage into your basement.
Wide Cracks – If the crack measures more than 1/8”, there is a strong possibility that it is compromising the structural integrity of your foundation wall. If you find one of these foundation cracks in your Hamilton home, keep searching because there’s a chance there are more like it.
Cracks That Are Dry – If there is no sign of water in or around the crack that means that it is not seeping…right now. Once you have spotted the crack, check it periodically, especially during periods of heavy rain or snowmelt when the soil around your foundation is most saturated.
Damp or Leaking Cracks – Obviously, if the basement crack is wet or shows signs of leaking onto the floor, it’s a problem. Both narrow and wide cracks can allow seepage.
If the foundation in your Hamilton home is poured concrete, cracks in the wall can run in any direction – up & down, straight across or on an angle. Non-structural cracks are the most common and are usually due to the shrinkage of concrete as it cures. Structural cracks typically show up in pairs typically indicating a sagging foundation.
Concrete block foundations are very common in Hamilton homes. Typically, cracks in concrete block walls occur in the mortar joints between the block and often follow a “stair step” pattern. Other times one will see a horizontal crack along the same mortar joint indicating a bowed wall. This is a structural concern and you will want to deal with it properly.
These cracks have one thing in common – they are worsened by the lateral pressure exerted on foundation walls when the soil outside the foundation expands when it is saturated with water either from a heavy rainfall or during spring thaw.
The good thing is that all of these cracks are repairable. Non-structural seeping cracks in poured concrete walls can be permanently repaired using both inside and outside methods. Similar cracks in concrete block walls require an outside repair, applying an exterior waterproofing system to the foundation that channels water down to exterior weeping tile.
The repairs indicated by structural cracks go beyond the cracks themselves and sometimes into the soil on which the foundation stands. Most structural cracks can be repaired by applying engineered carbon fiber straps to the wall; severe ones require a more advanced structural repair that will need to be reviewed by an engineer.
So back to the question of “fix it or wait & see” only a narrow crack that isn’t seeping falls into the “Wait and See” category. Some cracks just happen and they never leak or get bigger but they shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you are going to finish the basement. The others mentioned above require repair to avoid a wet basement in your Hamilton home or even worse, significant structural damage.
When you discover a basement crack in your Hamilton home after looking behind those stacks of boxes, you’ll want an expert opinion from a professional who knows the difference between a structural and a non-structural crack and how repairing a concrete block foundation differs from fixing a poured concrete one. H&N Basement Worx has repaired hundreds of cracks in the Greater Hamilton area…so doesn’t it make sense to ask for our free advice?
If you want to know more about basement cracks in and around Hamilton, please feel free to post your questions in the Comments box below, call us at 289-880-7988 or by clicking here.