Foundation Repair for Slab Cracks

Foundation Repair for Slab Cracks

If you see cracks in your home’s foundation, a repair person should evaluate them as soon as possible. Some cracks are merely superficial, but others can pose danger.

Cracks in your home’s foundation can occur naturally from settling, and in many cases, tiny cracks don’t signal a larger problem. In other cases, however, cracks do indeed pose a significant problem. So how can you tell the difference?

Read on to learn more about this common problem and when you should consult a professional.

What Is a Slab Foundation?

Home builders use several types of support systems, depending on soil conditions and architecture styles. The most popular foundation today is the monolithic concrete slab.

A slab foundation is made up of a single layer of concrete poured several inches thick, and thicker at the edges in order to form footings. It is further strengthened by reinforcing rods of metal rebar. Slabs are normally poured on top of a bed of crushed gravel in order to provide adequate drainage. In many cases, plumbing and electrical lines are located within the slab itself.

This type of foundation works best in areas where the ground does not freeze, but it can be adapted to suit other areas.

Indoor Warning Signs of a Problem

Foundation settling is bound to happen over time, and most cracks are not cause for concern. Some seemingly unrelated signs, however, could indicate an issue. These include:

  • A door does not latch or gets stuck
  • Cracks in walls, especially over doors, windows or where the walls and ceiling meet
  • Cracks in the vinyl or ceramic tiles that cover a concrete floor
  • Windows that once opened smoothly that now stick or won’t close all the way

Outdoor Warning Signs of a Problem

Outside your home, look for stucco cracks or z-shaped cracks in brick or block construction. A leaning chimney is a sure indication of an issue, as is the presence of moisture, mold or moss along cracks visible at the exterior slab or the base of walls.

In and around your garage, take notice if the walls pull away from the garage door, or if the garage door won’t open or close correctly.

What Could the Problem Be?

Concrete slab foundations are generally reliable because they resist movement and settling.

But when the soil below expands and contracts, stress is exerted on the concrete. Typically this happens as the soil gets wet and then dries out, but it can also occur if the underlying soil was not compacted correctly prior to construction.

The location of cracks does not necessarily indicate where the problem is. Cracks act, in a sense, as hinges that provide movement for the slab as it shifts, much like earthquake fault lines. However, the soil could be subsiding anywhere under the slab, not necessarily directly below the crack.

A Professional Opinion

The general rule is that any crack of a quarter-inch or less is probably not a problem, unless one side is higher than the other. Many homeowners prefer to play it safe and have an engineer or foundation repair company inspect cracks to determine whether a larger problem exists.

In most cases, repairs will help prevent any further structural damage to your home, as long as the problem is caught in time.

Solutions for Cracked Slab Foundations

Repairs to a cracked slab can be accomplished in a variety of ways, depending on the source and extent of the problem. In most cases, the contractor will install a steel pier system to support the weight of the structure, easing the pressure on the slab itself and preventing further damage.

If you have noticed any of these issues in or around your home, don’t put off taking action. Contact a foundation repair professional today.