The concrete floors inside your home are incredibly important to the health, safety, and aesthetic appeal of your home. If they start to crack or sink, they can become a serious nuisance (or even a danger) within your home. As well as being an issue, cracked floor slabs can be problem signs of deeper issues within your property’s structure. Because of the severe nature of the issues that can cause this kind of damage to floor slabs, it is important to pay attention to additional problem signs.
Why Worry About Cracked Floor Slabs?
The most obvious reason to be concerned about cracked floor slabs is the likelihood that this damage is merely a problem sign for deeper issues in the property. However, this is not the only reason to be concerned about cracked floor slabs in your home. This kind of damage presents a hazard to you and anyone in your home, and it can impact the value of your property.
The matter of property value is something you should also consider, even if you are not thinking of selling your home right now. Cracked floor slabs will seriously impact the price you can expect to get for your property if you do decide to sell it. Mainly because they present a hazard and suggest that there might be underlying issues within the structure of your home.
What Cracked Floor Slabs Are A Sign Of
While concrete floor slabs can be a problem sign of many issues, the most likely are:
Settlement is a form of foundation damage that sees chunks of foundation fragmenting and dropping into voids left below by the movement, displacement, or shrinking of soil. In the wet and cold climate of Colorado, which often has heavy clay soil, settlement is an unfortunately common issue that can arise as a result of the reactive nature of clay-based, expansive soils.
Subsidence, like settlement, tends to happen because the soil under your home has been compromised in some way. This can happen because the soil is fundamentally weak but is more likely to happen during periods of intense flooding when the soil becomes soft, marshy, or loose. Unlike settlement, subsidence only tends to cause cracking later in the process as the property’s weight is distributed unevenly.
Cracked floor slabs can be a problem sign for flawed concrete. This is not overly common, but it can and does happen. If there are no other problem signs to consider or your home is otherwise structurally sound, this could well be the case.
Additional Problem Signs To Be Aware Of
There are a number of other problem signs that can show themselves alongside cracked floor slabs in a home. These problem signs can indicate the presence of unseen structural issues, or even signal the spread and growth of the cracks in your floor slabs. Learning how to spot them is useful for any homeowner. These problem signs include, but are not limited to:
Sinking or Unevenness
If the cracked floor slabs in your home also begin to move or sink, then you should consider this a separate (if connected) problem sign that indicates more serious or advanced underlying damage. Sinking floor slabs are most likely to be the result of foundation damage or movement and will worsen the cracks that are already present. Furthermore, sunken concrete slabs will present a tripping hazard within your home and could result in serious injuries.
Sticking Doors and Windows
If the doors and windows in certain parts of your home start to jam and stick for seemingly no reason, it may be a good idea to call in an expert for an inspection. The most common cause of this kind of issue is the deformation of the door and window frames; this can be caused by a few specific issues, but generally comes down to structural movement.
Floor and Wall Gaps
Gaps between your property’s flooring and walls can be a sign of a few different forms of damage. Most notably, these gaps can be a sign of foundation damage, joist damage, or damage to a property’s foundation walls. If these gaps form alongside cracked floor slabs, then you can be sure that there are intense pressures at work. As such, you should seek professional help quickly. If you ignore floor and wall gaps for too long, then you could find that sections of your floor begin to collapse.
Condensation is a strange occurrence because it can either be a genuine problem sign or completely normal–it all depends on the circumstances in which it forms. Condensation on cold surfaces like glass and metal in your bathroom or kitchen, for example, is common and perfectly normal because of its function. Condensation on a property’s walls, by contrast, is a significant issue that should not be ignored. This is a sign of exceedingly high humidity and can be caused by internal leaks or structural damage.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are common co-occurring issues in homes that have structural damage like cracked floor slabs and secondary issues like dampness and humidity. Unfortunately, mold and mildew are far more damaging to your health, in a direct sense, than any amount of dampness and humidity could ever be. In fact, certain strains of mold can even cause issues like fainting, respiratory infections, migraines, and seizures. Those who already have underlying health conditions are the most at risk of serious side effects from prolonged (or even nominal) exposure to toxic forms of mold like black mold.
Wood rot, like mold and mildew, is often a tertiary problem sign that forms after dampness and humidity have taken root in a property. Unlike mold, however, wood rot is generally benign to humans unless ingested because this fungal species specializes in devouring wood. In nature wood rot breaks down dead wood, which is a useful and necessary function. In a home, however, it is a dangerous nuisance. If you see wood rot in a home with cracked floor slabs, then it is possible that the dampness is being caused by water seeping through the foundation and slabs into your home. However, it is also likely that the source of the moisture is internal, e.g., the result of plumbing leaks.
Bowing walls is another issue all on their own, but they also function as a problem sign of structural damage and perimeter saturation. Bowing walls can be recognized by spreading cracks and bulging in affected walls. When this issue arises in conjunction with cracked floor slabs, you can be certain that foundational or structural problems are the root cause. However, these kinds of problem signs also are an indication that the underlying issues are advanced, so you should act quickly. If you allow bowing walls to grow unchecked, then you could well end up dealing with a localized or widespread collapse in your home.
Cracked Floor Slabs
Cracked floor slabs inside a property can be caused by many different issues and can be accompanied by many secondary and tertiary issues. Nonetheless, the key underlying causes can generally be broken down into two categories: structural damage and defects or flaws in the slabs themselves.
Structural damage is a fundamental problem for any home, and in some cases cracked floor slabs are little more than a problem sign for a much deeper issue. While it’s true that any kind of structural movement can lead to cracks forming because of the pressure created during that shift, spreading cracks tend to be a sign of an ongoing problem. If this is the case, then the underlying issue will need to be mitigated or addressed to prevent more serious things like structural collapse.
The forms of structural damage that are most likely to cause cracked floor slabs are foundational issues like settlement and subsidence. These problems are both likely to be caused by issues in the soil under your property, and in a cold, often wet climate like that around Colorado Springs, CO, this is likely to mean soil wash out and saturation. If your cracked floor slabs are being caused by foundation damage, then the needed repairs could be quite intense.
Defects and Flaws
The likelihood of there being defects or fundamental flaws in the concrete used to create the now cracked floor slabs is slim but not impossible. You see, one of the biggest benefits of concrete as a building material is its remarkable flexibility–the texture of concrete can be changed and tailored to suit the needs of the situation. The downside of this is that the person calculating the required proportions of water, cement, sand, and aggregate can make a mistake; if this happens, then the concrete created could be fundamentally flawed.
Another way in which concrete could become flawed is if it is not allowed to cure properly. This can mean a lack of time or a disturbance in the setting process, for example the use of a technique known as ‘hard-troweling’ that can cause water in the mix to be unevenly distributed. Either of these issues can lead to large fault lines forming in the concrete slabs in question. They also may increase the likelihood of cosmetic deterioration and issues like flaking, pitting, and spalling.
Cracked floor slabs are a serious problem in any property, whether you consider them as a tripping hazard or a risk to the value of the home. This means that repairing the damage should be a priority for homeowners, although we do not recommend that you attempt a DIY repair, even if the cracking and/or sinking is minor in nature. Instead, it is best to call a professional for guaranteed results.
Slab Repair is Complex
Repairing cracked floor slabs can be a complicated undertaking that requires the use of professional grade materials and equipment. The precise nature of the repairs needed also will depend on the severity and nature of the damage and the underlying causes at work. For example, if the slab has started to sink or move significantly, more robust measures will be needed than if the slabs were merely cracked. The ability to fully diagnose the underlying causes and co-occurring issues is often a matter of experience.
Experience of repairing cracked floor slabs, of course, is something that few DIY enthusiasts have but that all professionals will have. What’s more, using products like PolyRenewal Foam Injection or the tools needed to install slab piers can be dangerous to you and your home if you do not know how to use them properly. Even if you do diagnose the issue and connected factors properly and deploy the right repair solution effectively, however, you are unlikely to get the same quality of results as a professional.
Professionals Have the Right Tools
As a homeowner, you would need to rent certain tools and equipment to install serious repair products like PolyRenewal or slab piers. Acquiring this equipment can be incredibly expensive, and this doesn’t account for the need to buy the repair products themselves. Furthermore, professionals will be able to react to any underlying or co-occurring problems that are uncovered quickly and effectively, making the entire process far more seamless and enjoyable for you. You also can pair this with annual maintenance to ensure your slabs remain in peak condition no matter the conditions.
Expert Floor Slab Repair From Complete Basement Systems
If you have seen cracked floor slabs around your property and you want to restore them to their original position and condition, then it is time to call in an expert. Here at Complete Basement Systems, we have a team of trained specialists who can deal with structural damage of all kinds quickly and effectively. If you want to discuss your property with us, contact us to arrange a free estimate. We’re happy to serve Denver and Colorado Springs, CO.