As a homeowner, it is important to know the state of your home’s foundation and how to know when to look for foundation crack repair in Michigan. It is common for homes to experience a level of “settling” over time that can result in poured concrete basements cracking which can sometimes require professional repair services.
Not all cracking is dangerous and there are several different types of repairs that can be done to a Michigan basement depending on the level of damage. Check out this complete guide to poured concrete basement wall crack repair in Michigan including 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?
While most homes are designed for a minimal amount of settling over time, there are many cases where, unfortunately, external factors cause additional pressure to build up and cause cracking in basement walls. This is especially true in many parts of Michigan due to the unique weather conditions brought on by Lake Michigan and the Northern climate.
Poured concrete is often used in basement construction due to its resistance to pressure and damage. However, these walls can still become damaged over time. It is actually completely normal to see various amounts of cracking in your basement walls caused by a range of factors.
Shrinkage can occur as a result of excessive moisture within the concrete mix when it is poured. Shrinkage is the most common cause of cracking in poured concrete basement walls. 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 is the opposite of shrinkage and it occurs when there is excessive space around the concrete that is impacted by the weight of the dried concrete. This could be underground burrows from animals, tree roots that died and decayed leaving excess space, or any other natural underground disturbance. These cracks most commonly occur on horizontal surfaces such as basement floors.
There are a variety of reasons why the amount of pressure being applied to your basement walls may fluctuate causing 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.
Unfortunately, poor construction is a common culprit 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. These cracks are often the 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. In general, small amounts of shrinkage are expected during the curing process. However, when there are miscalculations in the concrete mix, excessive shrinkage can occur. 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. 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. However, these cracks can still result in flooding issues, especially near doors and windows. Most commonly, these cracks are related to shrinkage or settling.
Horizontal cracks are generally the result of exterior pressure on the poured concrete foundation. These are almost always serious and 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
In general, hairline cracks, shrinkage cracks, and vertical or diagonal cracks are non-emergent and may not require professional services. While it can still be beneficial to talk to a professional and get an assessment, these types of cracks are usually less severe and don’t necessarily need extreme repair. 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.
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. If your cracks meet any of the following conditions, it is time to contact a professional for foundation crack repair in Michigan:
- 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 Michigan basement, let’s talk about what poured concrete basement wall crack repair is and how a professional can help you. “Poured concrete” refers to a form of concrete construction where the foundation and walls are poured into a frame to create the structure, rather than built piece by piece. The repairs discussed here 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, and if you’re dealing with cracks in your foundation, you’ve probably seen them. 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 assess and diagnose the problem to 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?
In order to perform poured concrete basement wall crack repairs, concrete crack injection is generally required. Concrete crack injection is a time-consuming process that involves several delicate steps to strategically inject a concrete filler – such as epoxy or polyurethane – into the cracks.
Concrete crack injections can only be performed properly with commercial equipment 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 begins with installing a series of ports at equal intervals along the crack. The surface of the crack is then covered and left to cure, which will hold in the injection liquid under pressure. The ports are then used to inject the filler at a consistent pressure over a short period of time. Finally, the ports are removed and the area is left to cure for 24 to 48 hours.
Epoxy Injection Crack Repair
Epoxy injection crack repair is a type of wall repair that is generally used for structural cracks that are found in the foundation wall. Epoxy is extremely strong and does not expand, which makes 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. 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 is different and, therefore, may require different materials and filler options. There are multiple forms of epoxy that can be used for crack injections ranging in viscosity from ultra-thin to paste-like. The viscosity of epoxy used depends on the width of the crack. A professional will determine the appropriate epoxy for your repair depending on the size of the crack, where it is located, and other factors that are unique to your home and the repair needed.
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 generally 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 – those that are less than a quarter of an inch wide. Polyurethane expands to fill the cracks making it ideal for minor waterproofing and crack repair.
In some cases, additional repairs may be necessary in addition to polyurethane crack injection. This most commonly happens when the injection doesn’t completely stop all water from coming through due to air pockets in the cracks, active shifting, or other problems with the foundation. 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 (unlike epoxy) and it cures very quickly. This repair option is commonly used for a range of waterproofing services, however, it is not ideal for structural repair. The material is flexible which allows the seal to stay intact, even if the concrete shifts, which is perfect for small cracks or to help waterproof a basement. However, polyurethane has essentially no strength, meaning that it can’t and won’t stand up to bigger issues.
How Much Does Poured Concrete Basement Wall Crack Repair Cost in Michigan
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. However, because of the wide range of variables that may affect the repair, speaking with a professional is ultimately the best and most reliable way to get an accurate estimate for the cost of a cracked basement wall repair.
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.
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.