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Cracked Slab

The average homeowner will often not take steps to protect their foundation from damage. How can a cracked slab indicate much deeper damage to the foundation?

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In Livonia, Michigan, seeing any cracked slabs either on the concrete surrounding your home or inside your basement can be troubling. Unfortunately, cracked slabs tend to be ignored by many homeowners who falsely believe them to be a solely cosmetic issue. 

Cracked slabs cannot be overlooked whatsoever. They are almost always signs of far deeper damage that can affect the overall health of your home. Let’s take a closer look into why cracked slabs and other similar problem signs, what causes this damage in the first place, and how Foundation Systems of Michigan can help below. 

Causes of Foundation Damage 

Being able to identify problem signs of foundation damage is useful, but it unfortunately does not prevent damage that has already been done. This is why you might also want to know what causes this damage in the first place.  

Hydrostatic Pressure 

The soil supporting your foundation will likely absorb a lot of water during a storm or when snow melts in the spring. All that water can cause the soil to expand and gain a lot of weight, which can create immense pressure against your foundation. This pressure can even cause the foundation to shift or crack apart. 

This phenomenon is called hydrostatic pressure and is unfortunately common. Hydrostatic pressure can occur when water droplets become trapped in the pores of your concrete slabs or even within the foundation itself. When winter comes, these droplets will most likely freeze, and the expanding ice can cause your concrete slabs or the foundation to crack. 

The Clay Bowl Effect 

Foundation damage can also be the result of a common construction mistake known as the clay bowl effect. Essentially, a contractor will dig a large hole in the spot where they plan to place the foundation and basement. Once each component is secured, there is typically a little extra space all around the basement that the contractors will backfill in with some of the soil they initially dug up to create a bowl of sorts around the structures. 

This soil is now much looser than it once was, which makes it much easier for a storm to wash it out. Without the right support, your foundation will likely settle and crack. 

Common Foundation Damage Problem Signs 

Many homeowners will not even know where their foundation is, much less know if it has been damaged. Fortunately, there are plenty of small problem signs of foundation damage that you can keep an eye out for. Here are some of the more common signs of foundation damage. 

Cracked Slab 

Slab pier

Any cracks found on the concrete around your home or within your basement can often signal far more substantial damage just under your feet. Indeed, cracks themselves can indicate that your very foundation has shifted out of its original alignment, settled, or even cracked itself. That alone can cause other structures in your home to start to deteriorate and eventually collapse if you are not careful. 

This is why ignoring any cracks you see is a bad idea. Even if these cracks are not that large or seem insignificant, they can easily expand outward to create plenty of damage to your foundation if left alone for too long. 

Not every homeowner has the luxury of repairing every single issue around their home the moment they see them. It’s important for every homeowner to know which cracks may be ignored for a short period of time and which need to be repaired immediately. 

Any cracks that measure less than 1/8 inches wide are known as hairline cracks and typically do not pose much of a threat to your home for the time being. Similarly, cracks that measure anywhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inches wide may also be left alone for some time. Setting an appointment with a foundation specialist can help you figure out a plan to tackle these fractures when the time comes.  

Cracks that measure larger than 1/4 inches wide can’t wait to be prepared. These cracks are signs that the damage from your cracked concrete slabs has reached your foundation. The foundation is critical to your home’s structural integrity. Without it, your home will very likely collapse and create immeasurable and extremely costly damage. 

Leaks and Flooding 

Because the basement rests above the foundation, many homeowners will first notice signs of serious foundation damage taking place in their basement. A shifted, settled, or cracked foundation can cause the walls or floor of your basement to spring cracks as well, leading to leaking issues and more frequent flooding. 

Musty Smell 

An often-overlooked problem sign is detecting a musty smell that only lingers around your basement. This stench can originate from a wide variety of factors. For one, the smell can come from constant floods that hit your basement. Water and even sewage can leak through and create a nasty stench that you cannot ignore each time you need to go to your basement. 

Additionally, other problem signs will also emit musty smells as well. Mold and mildew growth is often said to have a damp or musty smell. Certain pests will also give off stenches to attract others of their kind to your house. 

Mold and Mildew Spores 

Both mold and mildew can cause negative health symptoms in you and your family. This can include burning or watery eyes, stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, and skin rashes. Those with asthma or chronic lung diseases may even find their own symptoms triggered more often or their lungs infected from inhaling these spores. 

It might also help to know how to detect mold and mildew in the basement. Mold can be green or black in color with a fuzzy or slimy texture. Mildew, on the other hand, is a light gray or white color and is fluffier or powdery in texture. Even a single spot you find in your basement can contain thousands or even millions of fungi spores. 

Mold and mildew can also spread quickly if your basement has any moisture or humidity issues. Cracks often invite plenty of moisture inside your basement one way or another. Mold and mildew spores may also find their way inside your home through these cracks. This is why it is important to repair these cracks as soon as you can. 

Pests 

Pests tend to gather in homes that have moisture issues, largely due to the fact that they have a steady water source. Moisture issues can also lead to humidity within your basement, which many pests tend to thrive in. No homeowner wants to have to deal with an entire destructive pest infestation on top of the flooding, cracks, and other foundational damage. 

Sagging Floors 

One of the most obvious signs that your foundation is damaged is if you notice your floor sagging or bouncing in places. Your foundation may have shifted or cracked, which can shift or crack your floor’s support beams as well. 

It is also possible that your floor’s support beams have also naturally rotted over time due to mold and mildew or constant flooding. This then leaves your floor to sag or bounce where it should stay level. Not only can this present a dangerous tripping hazard for you and your family, but it can also signal that more substantial damage is soon to follow. 

Stuck Doorways and Windowsills 

In Grand Rapids, another sign that your foundation has shifted or cracked is if you notice your doors and windows are suddenly much harder for you to open and close. Most homeowners simply attribute this sticking to age and nothing more. While this may be the case for some homeowners, this can also be a sign of foundation damage that needs immediate repairs too. 

Foundation damage affects plenty of structures that lie above it, including your windowsills and doorways. Without a stable foundation to support these structures, they will start to lean or tilt in place almost imperceptibly. Your doors and windows are fitted to the frames themselves and cannot move along with them, which means they become trapped and thus harder to open and close as a result. 

Leaning Walls 

Finally, foundation damage can cause the walls of your home to tilt and lean. This is extremely dangerous for a variety of reasons, but mainly because this is a sign that your house is on the verge of collapsing. You’ll need an expert’s help to accurately diagnose the problem and fix your home’s foundation as soon as possible. If left unchecked, these structural issues could escalate into danger for your home.  

Foundation Repair Solutions by Foundation Systems of Michigan 

Foundation Systems of Michigan can offer your home plenty of foundation repair solutions. From waterproofing to crack repairs, we have it all. 

Sump Pumps 

If the area around your foundation is flooded, then it makes sense to install a solution that will drain out all that water first. Our sump pumps can collect and drain as much as 11,500 gallons of water on a single charge of its battery. The fact that it is self-activating is also another benefit. When stormy weather hits your home, you won’t have to worry about turning it on. Its complex float system will detect when water has entered and activate by itself. 

Wall Anchors 

Foundation Systems of Michigan can also offer your foundation a thorough protection system known as the wall anchor system. These anchors are buried in specific points around your yard and help brace your foundation against any moisture or other forms of damage that might threaten to shift it or cause it to crack apart. It can also slowly repair any cracks already present in your foundation. 

Carbon Fiber Wall Straps 

If your yard does not have enough space to allow for the installation of wall anchors, then our experts can also install tough carbon fiber wall straps to your basement wall as a great alternative. Do not be deceived by its lightweight. Carbon fiber is one of the toughest materials in the world and is often used in aircrafts, racecars, and even sports equipment. 

Additionally, carbon fiber is 10 times stronger than steel. These straps are made even stronger when our tough epoxy resin is applied and then placed in strategic places around your basement wall. Once placed, the carbon fiber wall straps will be able to brace your basement walls and foundation alike from any damage that threatens to bow them in. Any cracks around your basement will also close again to prevent any moisture from threatening your home. 

I-Beam Support Braces 

Another alternative to wall anchors is our IntelliBrace™ I-beam brace system. This system consists of several zinc-coated I-beams braced against your basement wall to prevent them from bowing inward and causing them to crack. Our experts can also slowly tighten these braces against your wall over time to combat the damage it has already faced. You will start to notice the cracks sealing up on their own over time as well. 

Cracked Slab

FAQs

Concrete damage is far more pervasive than many homeowners might initially believe. It does not take much for concrete to shift, settle, or crack. 

Moisture Damage 

Moisture is perhaps the most pervasive form of damage your home can face. It is easy for moisture to wash out the supporting soil underneath your concrete slabs outside your home, especially if you do not take steps to protect it. Without this soil, the concrete slabs will likely settle and therefore become uneven. This can create more than a dangerous tripping hazard; it can also cause your concrete to crack too. 

Moisture can also infiltrate through any cracked basement walls or up through a broken foundation as well. This can result in constant flooding in your basement as well as other issues that spread via moisture (i.e., mold growth, pest infestations, etc.). It’s important for you to call in an expert to treat cracks around your basement or on your concrete as soon as you can. That way, you will at least be able to prevent the worst damage from hitting your home and costing even more to repair. 

Street Creep 

You might also notice your concrete slabs slowly shifting up your driveway as time goes along. This phenomenon is referred to as street creep. It mainly occurs when your outside concrete expands naturally during warmer weather. This allows the pores of your concrete to open more as well, which means that debris, water, and other things are likely to file in through the pores. 

When the weather gets colder, your concrete will then try to contract again, only to find that the extra space it once had is now filled up. The concrete will then stretch out to find extra space and creep up your driveway or closer to your home as a result, doing so more and more over time. This can also cause the slabs to crack if there is no extra space for these slabs to stretch out. 

Most homeowners will recognize that their home is having issues and will often attempt to repair this damage by themselves. However, when it comes to your foundation, it is better to leave any repairs you might need to the experts instead. 

Why DIY Repairs Are Not Enough 

The foundation is a surprisingly delicate structure that needs protection from all sorts of damage. Cracked concrete slabs around your home can easily spread their damage down to this structure and vice versa. This means that even if you can seal up the cracked slabs above, it is likely they will just reappear again in the future. 

Cheap DIY repair solutions you might find at your local home improvement store will only work as temporary relief at best. Often, these concrete repair solutions will not protect the soil underneath the slabs, which means it is still susceptible to washing out and causing your concrete to settle and become uneven again. 

Calling the Foundation Experts 

The only worthwhile solution for these concrete slab concerns is a permanent one. You might feel it is necessary to apply some temporary measures while you schedule an appointment with the experts at Foundation Systems of Michigan as well. It is best to call our experts for any larger repairs you might need. Our foundation experts have plenty of experience closing cracks in both concrete slabs around your home and even within the foundation itself. 

These repairs typically require tools and other construction equipment that the average homeowner simply will not have. Repairing cracks in your concrete and foundation alike will also require exact precision. Taking on these repairs on your own may create even more costly problems that need fixing.  

When presented with several foundation repair solutions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed before making your decision. We’re happy to offer our expertise to help guide you to the right decision for your home. Let’s take a closer look into all the foundation repair solutions that we have to offer below. 

A Note on Wall Anchors 

Though wall anchors are extremely useful in bracing your basement walls against any kind of damage, some homes might not have the space around their yard for this solution. Each anchor will be placed in compact soil buried deep around your home. Each anchor is then braced against your basement wall to prevent any outside pressures or other threats from causing it to bow in. 

Wall anchors essentially block out this movement altogether. Our experts can also slowly tighten these anchors over time to ensure that your basement walls will straighten out and close any cracks that have formed. You will not have to worry about any new cracks forming along your wall either. 

Carbon Fiber Wall Straps and I-Beam Support Braces 

If you do not have enough space in your yard for wall anchors, it might be best to install either carbon fiber wall straps or I-beam support braces in your basement instead. These will work just as well to brace your basement walls and foundation against any sort of damage. You might not know which of the two solutions is best for your basement. 

While both are tough solutions that can brace your basement walls against anything, you might simply like the look of one over the other. Carbon fiber wall straps are thinner straps that can easily be painted over if you want to. Our I-beams will obviously stick out far more, but you might be reassured by their overall rust-resistant protection. 

Contact the Foundation Experts at Foundation Systems of Michigan Today 

Your foundation is perhaps the most important structure in your entire home. When it becomes damaged, it can negatively affect the rest of your home too. Cracks are the easiest way to spot foundation or concrete damage, which is why all homeowners need to keep a sharp eye for them when they have the chance. 

Contact the foundation experts at Foundation Systems of Michigan for a free foundation inspection today. We’re the trusted experts in Livonia, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio—and we’d love to help you feel safer in your home.  

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