Foundation cracks present a problem in your Virginia basement, and smart homeowners look after repairs before finishing the basement. Avoid water problems and protect your home by handling cracks from the interior and exterior of your home.
What Causes Cracks in Your Basement?
Cracking is almost inevitable, as shifting soil, water and age take a toll on your concrete foundation. So how do Virginia homeowners know what to do about this issue? And what should be done before you finish the basement?
Hydrostatic pressure is the leading cause of cracks in the basement floor and foundation walls. Pressure from the outside and natural movements of the soil around your foundation cause the concrete to crack and split. Rainwater, groundwater and run off collect around the foundation and apply pressure to the walls. Settling soil and frost movements create even more pressure, often resulting in cracks.
You may notice more cracking in the spring, but this movement and pressure occur all year round. Watch for signs of dampness in the basement and inspect your foundation walls and floor carefully before planning a basement renovation.
Do Small Cracks Cause Problems?
Thin, hairline cracks may not seem threatening, but movement and additional hydrostatic pressure widen cracks and allow for the passage of moisture. Water in the basement creates a myriad of problems today and into the future. You must repair the cracking before closing up the wall and installing flooring.
Small cracks create a point of weakness. If left unrepaired, these thin cracks will open up with additional hydrostatic pressure. You may not notice water seeping in at the moment, but unless you invest in measures to repair cracks, moisture damage could destroy your finished Virginia basement in a short period of time.
What to Do About Foundation Cracks
Incorporate foundation repairs into the budget. Depending on the scale of the problem, the following common repairs could play into your project:
- Drainage Repairs – landscaping, grading and other processes help to redirect water away from the foundation, resulting in less hydrostatic pressure
- Waterproof Membranes – installed on the outside of your foundation, these membranes provide a protective coating that seals existing cracks and helps to minimize the risk of future cracking
- Piering – an excavation process that results in greater levels of support for your foundation, and especially important in newer subdivisions and areas with a high concentration of backfill
- Steel Bracing – installed inside the basement to help minimize movement, often used in older properties with limited access to the exterior foundation walls
- Wall Sealers – applied to the inside of your foundation wall, these paint-like products help to prevent moisture movement
- Crack Sealers – direct application into the existing cracks works well for wider foundation cracking, most often a silicone product or hydraulic cement
Continue with the plans to finish your basement once these cracks have been addressed and drainage improved in your yard. You cannot guarantee against foundation cracking in the future, but with the right systems in place your Virginia basement will be much more comfortable.