Foundation Cracks occur because as the foundation is curing the concrete shrinks due to water loss.
Every Foundation Will Have Cracks
The typical places that cracks form are at:
- Window Openings - These cracks typically start at one or both of the bottom corners and go down to the floor.
- Corners - These cracks form where the foundation changes direction. They typically are from the floor to top of wall.
- Areas of Uneven Settling - Cracks formed by uneven settling can be minor (1/8 in. or less) to major structural cracks.
- Anywhere Along The Wall - Cracks can form anywhere due to stress from backfill equipment, weak points in the wall, etc.
How Can I Prevent Foundation Cracks From Leaking?
The best way to prevent foundation cracks from leaking is to have the foundation coated with a Waterproofing Material during construction. Damp Proofing is not Waterproofing and will crack with the foundation. Waterproofing is designed to be able to stretch over foundation cracks as they form. The Waterproofing will bridge over these cracks and prevent them from causing leaks.
How Do I Know If I Have A Crack In My Foundation?
If your basement is finished the only way to know for sure what the problem is would be to remove the drywall and insulation to expose the foundation. Alternately you may be able to dig out the outside of the structure to find the leak source (more difficult).
How Do I Know If A Crack Has Been Leaking?
Obviously if the crack is wet there is a leak, but if a leaky crack has dried up it will have a white or brown powdery substance called effervescence (salts and minerals). This is made up of mineral deposits and salts that are left behind as the water dries. This residue will be on the wall where the water has leaked in before.
I Still Can't Find The Source Of The Leak... How Do I Do A Water Test?
If your basement is finished make sure to at least pull the carpet back so you can visually see where water starts to build up.
- Prepare by moving any items that may be damaged away from area.
- Place the end of a garden hose connected to a water source near the area suspected of leaking.
- Turn on the water source for no more than 10 minutes (The water may all go into the basement and will cause further damage if too much water is used)
- Inspect the area from the inside as water is running and after water is off.
- Using chalk, crayon, or marker - Mark the areas that have water leaking in.
- Note: it may take up to 15 minutes for the water to work its way in.
- Remove any excess water with a pump or wet/dry Shop Vacuum, or allow to dry.