Some types of foundation damage are very severe, so many homeowners believe that a problem will be straightforward to find and diagnose. Unfortunately, not all damage is equally as dangerous, and many develop so slowly over time that they’re difficult to identify until they result in a structural problem. Below, we’ll discuss the more common signs of foundation damage in Albany so that you can monitor your home for developing issues more accurately.
Cracks in your foundation can often be misleading, as they don’t always indicate major issues. The location and physical characteristics of the fissure can often help identify the severity.
Slab or Basement Floor Cracks
Cracks that form on your slab or on your crawlspace or basement floor are most often from the normal settling of the concrete after it’s poured. If you’re able to confirm that the gap is less than ⅛” wide and doesn’t have one side sinking below the other, chances are the crack isn’t structural. The best solution is to have a foundation repair company seal the fissure for you to keep water out. Slab cracks can widen, continue to grow long after new construction, and can become unlevel across the gap. If any of these characteristics are evident, the damage is likely structural and caused by differential settling of the soil below. A structural engineer should be able to confirm the problem and provide stabilization.
Vertical Wall Cracks
Wall cracks that form in a vertical orientation are almost always a result of concrete settling. The best solution is typically an epoxy or polyurethane sealant, especially given the risk of water intrusion in Albany. Wider vertical cracks may require some minor stabilization in addition to sealing to prevent further growth.
Horizontal Wall Cracks
Wall cracks that develop in a horizontal position across your crawlspace or basement wall form when the hydrostatic pressure from the surrounding soil becomes too intense for the concrete to resist. The stress pushes the concrete inward until a crack forms to relieve the pressure. This is a widespread problem in Albany because of the clay soil’s tendency to swell when it gets wet. Unfortunately, these fissures suggest that your home’s foundation requires structural repair, so the solution is generally extensive and costly.
Stair-Step Wall Cracks
The last type of foundation crack you’re likely to see in Albany is one in the shape of a step pattern forming around the joints between concrete blocks. These cracks generally indicate structural damage from differential settling, where the lower portion of the wall and the connected slab are sinking into the ground more rapidly than the rest of your home. This type of damage requires immediate repair, as it can quickly lead to foundation failure if you neglect to have it stabilized.
Damp or Wet Basement
Lastly, moisture or water in the area under your home is a clear indication that you have a problem with your foundation. The symptoms of water vapor and liquid water can easily be confused, but there are some differences that make the distinction possible. Water vapor enters your crawlspace or basement most often through the tiny pores in solid concrete, when Albany’s clay-rich soil exposes the foundation to moisture for long periods. It evaporates into the air, making it difficult to assess. Symptoms include humid air under your house, mold growth, musty smells, efflorescence on the walls, and pest infestation. Liquid water typically seeps through foundation cracks and pools on the floor, so you may notice water trickling in through gaps in the wall or floor and puddles or wet spots on the concrete. You may also find standing water, water damage, or musty odors and mold growth if the problem is recurring. Many homeowners don’t frequent the area under their houses, so they rely more on signs in their living space to determine if there is a problem with water or moisture getting through their foundations. You may find above-average utility bills or uncommonly cold or hot air in your living area if humid air seeps up from beneath your house. Additionally, unusual allergy symptoms can indicate that mold spores are entering your home from your crawlspace or basement.