You’ve Found a Big Crack…Now What?
Discovering you have a foundation crack in your basement can be a little disturbing for some. Finding a BIG foundation crack is enough to make anyone’s heart start pounding!
When we find foundation cracks that are ¼” in size or larger there’s a pretty good chance it’s a structural crack. Dealing with these types of cracks shouldn’t be taken lightly as there is clearly something more serious going on than just a crack being evident.
In most cases we advise an inspection to be completed under the guidance of a structural engineer who is versed in the proper foundation repair of these types of cracks. We need to determine what happened to make this crack as big as it is and what needs to be done to stop it from becoming more of an issue before repairing the crack.
Having someone inspect a structural foundation crack that does not have the proper experience or training could have you spending money on a repair that doesn’t actually address the root of the problem.
In our experience we find that the majority of the structural cracks we inspect are a result of excessive foundation settlement due to bad soil conditions at the time of construction or a water related problem where a section of foundation has taken on a deluge of water for an extended period of time.
How Did This Foundation Crack Get so Big?
The first thing you need to do before you actually address the foundation crack is find out what caused it to become the size that it is. If the crack is close to the corner of the basement you may discover that there is another crack on the wall that leads away from the corner. If you look closely you may notice they run on an angle towards the corner. (Typical for poured concrete foundations, block foundations react differently)
If you are faced with a situation like this you likely have an actively moving crack which will cause other issues on the main floor like cracks in drywall, doors that won’t close and brick joints opening up. When this happens the cause is usually unstable soil under that section of the house.
The unstable soil usually stems from a couple of different things.
1. The ground under the house is not firm enough to support the weight of the house.
2. The corner of the house has taken on water from a downspout or other water source to the point that it becomes soft. Either way this needs to be rectified before the crack can be repaired.
How to Properly Repair Structural Foundation Cracks
If the foundation has moved due to a water problem and the water problem is rectified chances are you can get away with performing a crack injection repair using two part epoxy along with some carbon fibre reinforcement straps.
When we know that the soil under the foundation is not able to properly support the weight of the house we have to provide a solution that addresses this. In this case we need to install piers into the ground directly beside the footing and weld them to special brackets which are bolted to the foundation. This solution once installed is able to support the full weight of the foundation preventing it from sinking any further.
Now that we have stabilized the foundation we can focus on repairing the cracks using a two part epoxy injection that will bond the foundation back together and repel any water that may want to enter.