When you live in an area with high precipitation like Kalamazoo, finding cracks in your basement can feel like the end of the world. After all, cracked basement walls can mean potential structural damage. If you have cracks in your basement, you’ll be happy to know that not all cracks are dangerous or even damaging to your home.
In fact, homes commonly experience a level of “settling” over time that may result in cracking in healthy poured concrete basement walls. As a homeowner, this can make it hard to know when it is time to find foundation crack repair in Kalamazoo MI.
There are several different types of repairs that can be done to a Kalamazoo basement depending on the level of damage. Below, we have provided a complete guide to poured concrete basement wall crack repair in Kalamazoo. This includes how cracks happen, 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, your home will settle over time causing superficial cracks in your foundation walls, however, external factors can cause additional pressure to build up and cause cracking in basement walls. This is especially true in many parts of Kalamazoo due to the unique weather conditions brought on by Lake Michigan and the Northern climate.
Poured concrete is highly resistant to pressure and damage making it ideal for basement construction. However, these walls can still become damaged over time. Various amounts of cracking in your basement walls can be caused by a range of factors.
Shrinkage happens during the drying process with poured concrete as a result of excessive moisture in the concrete mix. This is the most common cause of cracking in poured concrete basement walls and the good news is, they are usually not damaging. Shrinking happens as a result of moisture evaporation during the drying process making it an extremely common occurrence. In some cases, however, there may be too much water in the mixture which causes excessive shrinkage and moderate to severe cracking over time.
Settling occurs when the soil around the concrete is impacted by the weight of the dried foundation. There are several factors that can contribute to settling that can cause serious damage. Things like tree roots that died and decayed leaving excess space, animal burrows, or any other natural underground disturbance can contribute to settling. These cracks most commonly occur on horizontal surfaces such as basement floors.
External pressure is always present in basement walls, however, there are a variety of reasons this pressure may fluctuate and lead 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 is, unfortunately, a common cause of basement wall cracking. This might include issues with the mix such as insufficient concrete strength or pouring at the wrong time of year such as when the ground is frozen. These issues can result in severe, and costly, damages down the line.
The concrete pouring process involves a range of variables to be successful, including proper moisture during the curing process. In some cases, the water evaporates faster than expected causing premature drying. 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 wear and tear.
Hairline cracks are small cracks that are just along the surface of the concrete. It is common to see these cracks as a result of normal shrinking, settling, and curing. In general, these are not structurally concerning as long as they remain unchanged over time.
Shrinkage cracks can range from minor to serious depending on the severity of the shrinking. Most homes are designed with shrinking in mind, however, miscalculations in the concrete mix can cause excessive shrinking. The severity depends on the size, location, and depth of the cracks.
Settlement cracks generally occur on basement floors due to settling under the weight of the concrete, however, they can also occur when there are changes in pressure behind walls. These cracks can range in severity as much as shrinkage cracks.
Vertical and Diagonal Cracks
Vertical and diagonal cracks are generally not considered concerning and don’t pose any serious structural problems. These cracks can, however, still result in flooding issues, especially near doors and windows. These cracks are often related to shrinkage or settling.
Horizontal cracks are usually serious and are often caused by exterior pressure on a poured concrete foundation. These cracks often are accompanied by bowing walls. It is important to talk to a repair professional for these cracks as they can result in complete wall failure.
When to Call For Repair
There are many cracks such as hairline cracks, shrinkage cracks, and vertical or diagonal cracks that do not require professional services. Settlement cracks and horizontal cracks, on the other hand, may mean serious structural problems and should be assessed by a professional as soon as possible.
If you are concerned about cracks but are not sure if you should contact a professional, consider the following conditions of the cracks:
- 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
If your cracks meet any of these conditions, it is time to contact a professional for foundation crack repair in Kalamazoo.
What is Poured Concrete Basement Wall Crack Repair?
Now that you know what causes cracks and when to be concerned about your Kalamazoo basement, let’s talk about what poured concrete basement wall crack repair is and how a professional can help you. Poured concrete is used to lay basement foundations as opposed to being built elsewhere and built piece by piece on-site using block walls. These repairs are only suitable for poured concrete walls and will not work for block walls.
There are several DIY products on the market that advertise 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 injection is generally required to perform poured concrete basement wall crack repairs. The process is a time-consuming process and delicate. Through the step-by-step installation, a concrete filler, such as epoxy or polyurethane, is strategically injected into the cracks.
Commercial equipment is required to properly perform concrete crack injections due to the amount of pressure needed to properly seal concrete cracks. In general, DIY concrete injection products can not produce the ideal amount of pressure of penetration to fully repair structurally concerning cracks.
The process for performing a concrete crack injection includes the following steps:
- Install a series of ports at equal intervals along the crack
- Cover the surface of the crack to hold in the injection liquid under pressure and leave to cure
- Inject filler through the ports at a consistent pressure over a short period of time. Removed ports and allow injections to cure.
Epoxy Injection Crack Repair
Structural cracks are generally fixed using an epoxy injection crack repair. Epoxy is extremely strong and does not expand making it ideal for poured concrete basement wall repair.
Epoxy injection crack repair can only be performed when the surface is completely dry and is unlikely to continue shifting or expanding. For this reason, this method is generally only used on horizontal cracks as a last resort after other repair methods have been attempted. For example, most horizontal cracks require additional support through foundation anchors which are installed prior to performing an epoxy injection crack repair. This ensures that the repair remains unchanged for long-term flood prevention and prevention of other foundation-related issues that can occur.
Each crack may require different materials and fillers due to different circumstances. Epoxy that can be used for crack injections ranges in viscosity from ultra-thin to paste-like depending on the conditions of the crack. A professional will determine the appropriate epoxy for your repair depending on the desired pressure and the size of the crack.
The main reason that epoxies are used for structural repairs is that they can withstand over 12,000 psi of pressure (more than the concrete they are repairing). While this ensures that the repair will prevent further damage or structural risk, it also takes an extremely long time to cure. This severely limits the application options of the injection since there can not be any movement in the area for up to several days after the repair is completed.
Polyurethane Crack Injection
Polyurethane crack injection is used to prevent flooding and moisture leakage from vertical and diagonal cracks in poured concrete basement walls. In most cases, polyurethane is used for small cracks that are a quarter of an inch wide or less. Unlike epoxy, polyurethane expands to fill the cracks making it ideal for minor waterproofing and crack repair.
There are times when polyurethane crack injection may not be the only repair needed and additional repairs may be required. In these cases, there are usually air pockets or active shifting that prevents the crack from completely blocking moisture. If left unsealed, these cracks can cause harmful mold and mildew to form and compromise the health of you and your family.
Polyurethane can seal cracks that may leak from both the front and back and it cures very quickly. This repair is commonly used for a range of waterproofing services, however, it is not ideal for a structural repair. The material is flexible which allows the seal to stay intact, even if the concrete shifts, however, it has essentially no strength.
How Much Does Poured Concrete Basement Wall Crack Repair Cost in Kalamazoo
If you are faced with the potential cost of repairing a crack in your poured concrete wall, it’s only natural to be hesitant about calling a contractor. Unfortunately, there is no way to provide an accurate estimate of the cost of a cracked basement wall repair because of the wide range of variables that are considered when pricing the service.
In general, the cost of a poured concrete basement wall crack repair depends on the size of the crack, the severity of the issue (leaking, flooding, structural damage, etc.), and the repair method and labor hours required to complete the job. The national average cost of concrete crack injection is $4,500, however, most minor fixes cost between $500 to $1000 with major structural repairs costing up to $25,000 if it is seriously impacting the foundation.
Waterproofing your basement is an important part of maintaining a home, especially in Kalamazoo MI. Recurring damage can cause damage to property, flooding, mold, mildew, and even structural damage that can lead to collapse. Don’t wait to find out what is causing your poured concrete basement wall cracks. Contact StayDry Waterproofing to schedule a free consultation today to find out more about what options are right for you.