All Detroit homes rely on structural systems placed on a solid foundation, but what do you do when that foundation starts to crack? You may be relieved to know that not all cracks are serious. However, many types of cracks in the foundation of your home can lead to basement leaks, mold, and even structural damage. 

While not all cracks threaten the foundation of your home in serious ways, some may require professional foundation crack repair in Detroit, MI. It is common for homes to  “settle” over time which can result in cracks in your poured concrete basements. Understanding different types of cracks and how they may affect your home is an important step to deciding if you need the assistance of a professional.

Depending on the cause of the crack, the type of crack, and the size of the crack, repairs can be done to a Detroit basement using a variety of materials and methods. Check out this complete guide to poured concrete basement wall crack repair in Detroit. Below, we will walk you through how these cracks occur, when to contact a repair service, how concrete crack injection and foundation repair works, and the average cost of repair services.

How do Poured Concrete Foundation Cracks Happen?

In general, most homes are designed for a certain amount of settling over time, as it’s a normal process. However, there are many cases in which external factors cause additional pressure and settling to build up and result in cracks in basement walls. This is especially true in Detroit and the surrounding areas, due to the fluctuating midwest climate and unique weather conditions from Lake Michigan. 

Poured concrete is often used in basement construction due to its resistance to pressure and damage compared to the hollow design of block walls. However, these walls can still become damaged over time. In fact, it is common to see cracks in your basement walls, and these can range from cosmetic to structurally detrimental. They can also be caused by a large variety of factors.

Shrinkage

If there is excessive moisture in the concrete mix when it is poured, eventually that moisture evaporates and causes shrinkage. While moisture is necessary for concrete, the right balance is needed. It’s fairly common for a little extra moisture to get in the mix. When this happens, there is very minimal shrinkage that occurs as the concrete dries and the moisture evaporates. 

However, if the concrete mixture ratios are off and too much water is added to the mixture, shrinking continues beyond the intended amount resulting in small hairline cracks in the foundation. These small cracks are generally harmless to your basement and the overall structural integrity of your home. In some cases, severe shrinkage can cause moderate to severe cracking, but this is far from the norm. Shrinkage is the most common cause of cracking in poured concrete basement walls. 

Settling

In contrast to shrinking, settling is what happens when there is extra, unnecessary space around the concrete. That space is then impacted by the weight of the dried concrete, causing shifting, cracks, and in severe cases can even cause tangible movement throughout the building. Settling happens for a number of reasons, such as unforeseen space that emerges after pouring or even due to natural erosion and decomposition of the surrounding soil over time. 

Cracks caused by settling are commonly seen on horizontal surfaces, due to the differenc in pressure on different areas of the space. While cracks due to settling are most commonly seen on basement floors, they can also be found on walls and other surfaces. Depending on the location and severity of the cracks, they may present mild to severe damage and repair necessity.

External Pressure

External pressure on your basement walls can fluctuate for a range of reasons causing shifting in the concrete that leads to cracking. For example, exterior drainage system problems, abnormal changes in soil saturation, tree roots, or other external forces can cause bowing or cracking in poured concrete basement walls.   

Poor Construction

Unfortunately, poor construction is commonly found to be the reason behind concrete damage in basements. Most often, mistakes are made during the pouring process, which can lead to cracks either almost immediately or over time. These mistakes may include insufficient concrete strength or pouring at the wrong time of year – such as when the ground is frozen. These issues can result in severe damages that can cost homeowners thousands of dollars to repair. 

Premature Drying

Pouring concrete requires a range of specific variables to be successful including proper moisture ratios present throughout the entire curing process. Sometimes, however, the water evaporates faster than expected, which leads to the concrete mixture drying prematurely. This results in fine, spider-web-like cracks throughout the concrete. Fortunately, these cracks are most often more unsightly than structurally dangerous. 

How to Know if it is Time to Repair a Crack?

With so many different causes of basement wall cracks, it can be difficult to know which cracks are serious and which are normal. 

Hairline Cracks

Hairline cracks are small, sometimes almost unnoticeable cracks that sit just along the surface of the structure. Oftentimes, these cracks are caused by normal things like settling, curing, and shrinking which is to be expected in most homes. As long as the cracks do not get larger or change over time, they are generally not structurally concerning. 

Shrinkage Cracks

A small amount of shrinkage is expected and completely normal in poured concrete basements. However, cracks caused by shrinkage can vary, and may be minor with no structural damage all the way to large, severe cracks that indicate additional damage. These cracks are caused when there is an imbalance in the concrete mixture used for the home, leaving too much moisture in the concrete. If too much moisture is used, it can lead to excessive shrinkage which then causes cracks. While not all shrinkage cracks are detrimental, some may be depending on their location, size, and depth.

Settlement Cracks

As a home settles and moves into unexpected space below or around the foundation, settlement cracks can happen. Usually, these are located on basements floors and are caused by the weight of the concrete and the home itself as it shifts. In some cases, settlement cracks may happen on walls, if there is a change in pressure behind the wall. Settlement cracks have a wide range of severity, from cosmetic to structurally damaging. 

Vertical and Diagonal Cracks

In some homes, the foundation may have diagonal or vertical cracks. In most cases, these are not concerning, and do not affect the structural integrity of the home. However, vertical and diagonal cracks can lead to other issues, such as flooding or mold. These issues tend to be most prominent near windows and doors.

Horizontal Cracks

Horizontal cracks can show up on floors or walls. They are usually caused by external pressure directly on the poured concrete foundation. Horizontal cracks in the foundation walls are almost always serious, and can lead to additional cracks and problems such as bowing walls. When a horizontal wall crack is found, it should be treated like a severe problem, and it is important to speak with a professional as quickly as possible, as these types of cracks regularly result in complete wall failure.

When to Call For Repair

In general, hairline cracks, shrinkage cracks, and vertical or diagonal cracks are not threatening to the structural or water-tight integrity of the basement wall. Settlement cracks and horizontal cracks, on the other hand, may indicate serious structural problems that need to be assessed by a professional immediately, especially if they are growing or leaking.

In addition to becoming familiar with the types of cracks to be concerned about, it is important to know what conditions to look for when determining if you should consult a professional or not. While it is probably a good idea to call in a professional for a free consultation for any cracks if your cracks meet any of the following conditions, it is time to contact a professional for foundation crack repair in Detroit MI:

  • The crack, or cracks, are gradually becoming wider
  • The crack is wide enough to become a tripping hazard on a horizontal surface 
  • The crack has visible moisture leakage
  • The crack traps dirt or presents a sanitation issue
  • The crack causes a major eyesore in a high-visibility area
  • The crack is wider than a credit card 

What is Poured Concrete Basement Wall Crack Repair?

Now that you know what causes cracks and when to be concerned about your Detroit basement, let’s talk about what poured concrete basement wall crack repair is. Poured concrete is a form of concrete construction that involves pouring a concrete mix to form the foundation and walls rather than building piece by piece. Concrete crack injection repairs are only suitable for poured concrete walls and will not work for block walls.

There might be several DIY products on the market that advertise that they help with cracked wall repair, however, when it comes to the structural integrity of your home and the safety of your family, it’s best to leave the heavy lifting to experienced professionals. This is because DIY products may not provide the proper stability, strength, or chemical make-up to handle your specific situation. Each crack is different and can appear more or less serious than they actually are. An experienced professional will be able to diagnose the problem and determine the best course of action for addressing the issue. 

At StayDry® Waterproofing, we provide concrete crack injections that will stop cracks from spreading, repair leaks, and prevent flooding. Our team knows exactly how to identify areas that need repair and prevention as well as the best solution for each crack type. 

How is Poured Concrete Basement Wall Crack Repair Performed?

Concrete crack injections services are almost always needed to perform poured concrete basement wall crack repairs. Getting the cracks in your foundation repaired can be a delicate process that takes time. Concrete crack injection is done by strategically injecting the cracks with a concrete filler, such as epoxy or polyurethane, to seal and stabilize the cracks. 

Concrete crack injections should be handled by professionals with the proper commercial equipment. This equipment allows for the right amount of pressure to be used to help repair the cracks. In general, DIY concrete injection products can not produce the ideal amount of pressure or penetration to fully repair structurally concerning cracks. 

While the specifics may vary, concrete crack injection generally follows this process: 

  • Install a series of ports at equal intervals along the crack
  • Cover the surface of the crack and leave it to cure. This will hold in the injection liquid under pressure. 
  • Inject filler through the ports at a consistent pressure over a short period of time
  • Remove the ports leave to cure for 24 to 48 hours for epoxy or for a few minutes for polyurethane.

Epoxy Injection Crack Repair

If you’re dealing with cracks that affect the structural integrity of your foundation, epoxy injection crack repair is the best option. The strength and resilience of epoxy make it ideal for poured concrete basement wall repair because it can hold up to the pressure on the foundation, while not expanding and causing other issues. 

It’s important to note that the surface of and around the crack must be completely dry for proper epoxy injection crack repair. Additionally, you should be fairly certain that additional expanding or shifting will not happen during the repair period. Usually, epoxy is seen as an option to try after other repair methods have not worked or as a last resort to repair horizontal cracks. 

Not all cracks are equal, and because of that, not all of them should have the exact same repair materials or fillers. There are several epoxy crack injection forms, allowing the right compound to be used for different types of cracks. A professional is able to assess the crack, the desired pressure, and more to ensure that the right type of epoxy is used. 

There are pros and cons to choosing epoxy injection crack repair. This compound is extremely strong and can withstand more pressure than most poured concrete basement walls. However, on the downside, epoxy can take a long time to properly cure. This can be problematic in some cases because you need to ensure that there is no movement in the area until it has fully cured, which can be several days. 

Polyurethane Crack Injection

If you’re dealing with smaller cracks, those that are leaking, and/or cracks that aren’t indicative of structural damage, polyurethane crack injection may be the best repair option. This type of foundation repair can help prevent moisture and even flooding in your basement. Generally, polyurethane crack injection is used for diagonal and vertical cracks such as hairline cracks in the foundation. Polyurethane expands to fill the cracks making it ideal for minor waterproofing and crack repair.

Polyurethane is a fantastic sealant that can help ensure that cracks don’t leak. On top of that, this is a much quicker repair method than epoxy, because it cures very quickly. It’s important to keep in mind that polyurethane crack injection is not the best option for structural damage, since it is flexible and doesn’t offer the strength needed to help keep the foundation in place. 

How Much Does Poured Concrete Basement Wall Crack Repair Cost in Detroit

Poured concrete basement wall crack repair costs vary significantly, depending on the severity and size of the crack, the method of repair, labor hours, and more. It’s a good idea to get an estimate or quote before having the work done. Depending on the repairs needed, you may be looking at hundreds or even thousands of dollars – the national average cost of concrete crack injection repair is $4,500. Minor repairs generally cost less, while more major structural repairs can cost up to $25,000 or more. It’s also important to keep in mind that the longer you leave a crack, the more damage it can cause over time. Getting the cracks in your foundation repaired quickly can save you money in the long run. 

If you are concerned about cracks in your poured concrete basement walls, don’t wait. Contact StayDry Waterproofing to schedule a free consultation today to find out more about what options are right for you.