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    © Mark Saville 2006  

Cracks in Concrete Walls

 
 
 

Cracks in Concrete may seem like a major problem when first discovered but not all cracks point towards building shifting or settling and structural damage. This article will help clear up what the difference is between the two types of cracks in concrete and set some people's mind at ease. Cracks in your foundation walls can be repaired.

 

 
 

Concrete is made with cement, aggregate, sand and water. It's the water that makes the concrete workable and the evaporation of the water that makes the concrete the good solid building material that it is. The only problem is, when the water is gone there is a loss of volume and something needs to give. A very large piece of concrete such as a floor or large wall will shrink about 1/16 of an inch for every 10 feet.

 
 

Shrinkage cracks are normallly only about the size of a hair and are jagged in nature. The photo to the right is an example of a shrinkage crack in a foundation wall due to the concrete drying too fast. The longer you can keep concrete wet during the first two days, the less shrinkage you'll have.

 

 

concrete foundation crack
Foundation cracks like the one pictured above are shrinkage cracks

If you look at the photo above you'll see the short dark line which is the form tie hole. This hole is 1/8 of an inch thick. So you can compare the crack to the tie hole and see that the crack is just a hairline. We did this foundation in very cool weather so we covered the whole foundation with insulated tarps and heated the space. The cracks showed up right near the end where we had the heaters and because the foundation set up slowly in the ares further away from the heaters, there were no cracks at all.

 

Structurally, these cracks are of no consequence at all because we have a good rebar system placed in the wall. The only thing you need to worry about is water getting in through the crack so a good job of water-proofing is in order. The crack can be v'd out a bit and a good rubberized roofing cement can be pressed into the crack. Then you can continue with your damp-proofing or water-proofing coat over the patched area. Just make sure that your crack filler is compatible with the foundation coating. Another sure indication that this is a shrinkage crack is the fact that it hasn't gotten any bigger, travelled or changed in any way during the past couple of months.

 

© Mark Saville 2006 Reprint with Permission only.
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