Most types of foundation damage in Fort Mill are increasingly evident as they worsen, but many problems exhibit warning signs before they become severe. Below, we’ll discuss the common symptoms of an under-home issue so that you can identify them before they result in structural damage.
Floor or Slab Cracks
All foundations crack at some point, usually in response to natural settling that occurs after they are poured during new construction. One of the common symptoms of this settling is thin, hairline cracks in your slab or on your crawlspace or basement floor.
They typically span out from the corners or edges in a web pattern. Provided they remain thin and don’t have one side of the concrete rising over the other, they’re typically harmless and should simply be sealed to keep water out.
Cracks on your slab or basement floor that widen to ⅛” or more or that become uneven across the fissure should be inspected by a structural engineer. These generally suggest that your foundation is suffering from differential settling, and they require immediate attention.
Vertical Wall Cracks
Fissures that appear in a vertical orientation on your concrete block wall or on the outside portion of your slab are most often from natural concrete settling as well. They very rarely suggest structural problems. Most homeowners have them sealed with epoxy to prevent water seepage and moisture intrusion, especially if they grow to over ⅛” wide.
Horizontally-oriented foundation wall cracks are severe, and they signify structural damage most of the time. They result from mounting hydrostatic pressure from the soil, so they’re an unfortunately common issue in Fort Mills, where the clay content of the earth lends itself to rapid and excessive swelling. Horizontal cracks should be repaired immediately, as they can lead to foundation failure and collapse.
Stair-step cracks develop in a step pattern following the joint lines between concrete blocks on your crawlspace or basement wall. They may also be found on the outside of your house if you have several feet of concrete visible beneath your home.
These fissures almost always suggest a loss of structural integrity. They indicate that a section of your foundation has lost support from the earth underneath and is sinking into the ground more quickly than the rest of your home. These cracks are a widespread problem in Fort Mills because of the prevalence of multi-level foundations and the risk of differential settling of the clay soil.
Bowing Foundation Walls
The hydrostatic pressure from the clay-rich soil in Fort Mill can increase to dangerous levels, causing your foundation walls to crack and potentially collapse. Before a fissure appears, you may notice inward movement or bowing of your crawlspace or basement walls. The concrete can flex slightly in response to mounting pressure, but eventually, the stress will lead to cracking and structural damage.
Bowing walls are a good sign that you need to reduce the soil’s expansion or stabilize your walls before a horizontal crack forms.
Wet Basement or Elevated Moisture
Water intrusion and moisture accumulation are both severe problems in Fort Mill, where the absorbent soil often holds runoff against the concrete for days after precipitation.
Liquid water tends to seep through foundation cracks, leading to standing water under your home, puddles on the floor, water damage to construction material or items in storage, and wet spots on the concrete, especially following periods of rainfall.
Water vapor can wick through the pores in your concrete and create a variety of symptoms. Signs of moisture build-up include noticeable dampness in the air, insect or rodent infestation, and poor indoor air quality, including uncomfortable temperatures, allergy symptoms, and high utility bills.
Water entering your under-home area through the concrete pores evaporates once inside. It typically leaves behind salts and minerals that were dissolved in the water, and these accumulate on your foundation walls. The result is efflorescence, which is a white, sometimes fuzzy build-up on the concrete that flakes off when you touch it.
Lastly, mold thrives in damp, dark conditions, so moisture accumulation from intruding water or water vapor will often lead to mold growth in your crawlspace or basement. You may notice musty odors or visible mold spores on the walls and ceiling of your under-home area.