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Keeping Your Foundation Whole: A Guide to Cracks and Foundation Preservation

repair these foundation problems

You probably don’t think too much about the foundation keeping your home upright. If you’re dealing with frequent basement or crawl space flooding, though, you may need to start giving it some thought. Leaks that don’t seem to have a source are often a symptom of a cracked foundation.

How can you determine whether or not your foundation is cracked? What are the signs you need to look out for, and can you take preventative measures to keep your home safe? This guide will answer those questions and more so you can continue to maintain your home.

Signs of a Foundation Crack

You won’t always be able to see the crack in your foundation. More often than not, you may need to reach out to a contractor to determine what state your foundation is in. That said, you can keep an eye out for some of the following signs if you suspect your foundation has cracked. While these signs may also indicate a general leak, they’ll be able to point you toward any larger problems that may have developed beneath your home:

  • Unpleasant smells
  • Mold clusters
  • Higher electrical or gas bills
  • Insect or small animal infestations
  • Basement flooding

The Three Foundation Cracks

Not all foundation cracks are created equal. Your foundation may suffer for a variety of reasons, but it will typically crack in one of the three following ways:

  • Vertical. If your home is on the newer side, it may fall victim to a vertical crack. These cracks appear most frequently in green support wood or wooden supports that haven’t had enough time to stiffen. If your support beams are exposed to rainwater as it makes its way into your home, they may begin to bow. As a result, the walls of your crawl space or basement will begin to sag, threatening not only the value of your home but the safety of your family and belongings.
  • Horizontal. Horizontal cracks tend to appear in homes that have brick or concrete foundations. These cracks are the result of your home settling. What does this mean, though? When the weather changes – as it so frequently does in Columbia, SC – the particles that make up the foundation of your home will grow and shrink. Excessive contractions can stress your foundation to the point of cracking.
  • Diagonal. The same stress that causes horizontal cracks also causes diagonal foundation cracks. These cracks, however, arise when one side of your home settles more frequently than the other. The easiest way to predict whether or not you’ll fall victim to a diagonal crack is to watch which side of your crawl space or basement floods with the most frequency. The side that’s over-exposed to water damage is the side that’s most likely to develop a diagonal crack. 

Preventing Foundation Cracks: Tips and Tricks

You’ll never be able to control the weather in Columbia, SC. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent your foundation from cracking. These include:

  • Beware sprawling root systems. Beautiful landscaping is a selling point for any home. As you’re planting, though, do what you can to keep plants and trees with larger root systems at least 20 feet away from your home. If you’re not careful, those root systems can butt up against the foundation of your home and encourage cracks to form.
  • Clean your gutters year-round. No one enjoys cleaning the gutters. If you don’t remove the filth that builds up in them, though, you risk the structural integrity of your foundation. Rainwater that can’t make its way through your gutters will run down straight onto the perimeter of your home. As a result, it’ll be more likely to reach your foundation and to foster cracks. So while it’s a pain, cleaning your gutters can save you a lot of stress and money in the long run.
  • Water your lawn. When your lawn undergoes a drought, the soil particles surrounding your home will shrink in size. As a result, they won’t be able to absorb as much rain when the drought finally breaks. That inability can lead to a flood in your basement and eventual foundation damage. If you choose to water your lawn, though, either on your own or with the help of a sprinkler system, you can maintain your soil’s health and prevent abrupt flooding.
  • Waterproof your foundation. As mentioned, it’s most often contractions in your foundation that result in a foundational crack. While you can’t control when or where it rains in Columbia, you can limit the amount of water your foundation is exposed to. By waterproofing your foundation, you’ll prevent the temperature from rapidly dropping in your home, thereby lessening the amount of stress your foundation experiences. You can waterproof your basement or crawl space through the use of French drains, sump pumps, vapor barriers, temporary sealants or dehumidifiers. Talk to your local contractor to determine which of these waterproofing solutions will suit your home best.

Don’t let the rain threaten the structural integrity of your foundation. If you suspect your foundation has cracked or you want to take preventative steps, reach out to a local contractor today.

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