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Keeping Your Foundation Whole: A Guide to Cracks and Preventative Measures

Monday, January 20th, 2020


a guide to foundation problems

The homes available in Denver, CO, enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States. They also, however, must endure year-round precipitation that even the local weathermen can’t always predict. The constant changes in temperature and precipitation levels can sometimes result in foundational cracks – especially in some of the area’s older homes.

What are foundational cracks, though, and how can they threaten the integrity of your home? Furthermore, if you’re looking to waterproof your home, how will a foundation crack impact that process?

Foundation Cracks: The Different Types

Let’s start with the basics. If your foundation cracks, you’ll likely be dealing with one or more of the following crack types:

  • Vertical Cracks. Vertical cracks most frequently appear in newer homes. On occasions, the team that builds your home will use wood that hasn’t had time to age or harden as support beams. When these beams are exposed to Denver’s precipitation, they can start to bend. As a result, you may find a vertical crack in the foundation of your home. Your walls, whether in your basement or in a crawl space, may also start to sag due to the lack of support.
  • Horizontal Cracks. Horizontal cracks most frequently appear in homes that have foundations made out of concrete or brick. These cracks result due to frequent fluctuations in the size of your foundation. What does that mean? When the temperature rises, the particles inside your foundation grow larger. When the weather gets cooler, those same particles shrink. If the weather changes rapidly and repeatedly, stress can get to your foundation and cause it to settle. This settling, if done under stress, can result in a crack.
  • Diagonal Cracks. Similarly, you may come across a diagonal crack in your foundation. These cracks tend to appear when your home has settled unevenly or when one side is more prone to flooding than the other.
    What Causes Foundation Cracks?

As mentioned previously, your foundation is most likely to crack when it’s put under excess pressure. As your foundation grows and shrinks in response to Denver’s weather, it can build up stress to the point of cracking. Likewise, long-term exposure to running water can wear away part of your foundation. That additional weakness can also lead to a crack.

Signs of a Cracked Foundation

If you can’t spot a foundation crack at first glance, keep an eye out for some of the following. These symptoms often indicate a leak in your home, which in turn, may indicate a foundation crack:

  • Unpleasant smells
  • Pests
  • Mold clusters
  • Cooler temperatures
  • Standing water or dampness

How to Prevent Foundation Cracks

If you’re looking to keep your foundation in one piece, you’re in the right place. A number of waterproofing solutions, including vapor barriers and temporary sealants, can all help you lessen the amount of environmental stress your foundation has to deal with. There are other preventive measures you can take, though, including:

  • Keep your lawn damp. Soil particles, like the particles in your foundation, also grow and shrink in response to the weather. Droughts will cause your soil to shrink, whereas frequent rain will keep the soil hale and hearty. Unfortunately, the rain that comes after a drought will run straight through the shrunken soil and into your basement or crawl space. To prevent this rush of water and a potential foundation crack, try watering your lawn as the weather gets warmer.
  • Watch out for spreading root systems. Trees’ expansive root systems can also compromise the structural integrity of your home. As these root systems grow, they may come to butt up against your foundation. They may even crack it in their attempt to continue growing. If you want to keep roots from interfering with your home’s market value, try to plant any new trees or landscape features at least twenty feet away from the perimeter of your home.
  • Clean out your gutters. No one enjoys cleaning out the gutters. You’re going to need to, though, if you want to keep your foundation from cracking. When you clean out your gutters, you prevent rainwater from diving straight down onto the perimeter of your home. As a result, you lessen the amount of water damage your foundation has to endure, preventing cracks as you do so.

A little bit of housekeeping can save you a lot of money when it comes to your foundation.

If you think your foundation has a crack in it, don’t wait for the symptoms and flooding to get worse. Reach out to a local contractor to see what kind of basement waterproofing and crack-fixing solutions are available to you ASAP.