Concrete Floor Cracks: Should You Be Concerned?

If you’ve just moved into a newly built house in Utah or finished construction of a concrete floor in your basement or garage, there might be occasions when you notice that some cracks have formed in the concrete, which wasn’t there before.

Many homeowners find this concerning; did the previous contractor use subpar methods and materials? Is there any danger of severe structural damage? To help you out, here’s a review of different types of cracks you might find in your property. You can then decide what action, if any, is necessary – such as new basement finishing or repair for the garage floor of your Utah home.

Hairline cracks

Fine, superficial cracks in concrete are a normal occurrence as it begins to set and dry over time. Hairline cracks can be as small as one-tenth of a millimeter in width and are caused by the natural shrinkage of the concrete as it loses moisture. Though some owners may feel that these cracks detract from the cosmetic appeal of the surface, they pose no structural issues and do not warrant repair.

Spalling

Surface flaking or spalling on your concrete floor is a sign of excess residual water. In Utah, where cold winters are common, your house may experience fairly harsh cycles of freezing and thawing. During these times, the concrete expands and contracts; the presence of excess water makes this process happen unevenly, which leads to the flaking.

This is another concrete flooring issue which is mostly cosmetic, with no structural concern. You can overlay the spalling surface with polymer cement and effectively resurface your floor.

Settlement cracks

Similar to hairline cracks, somewhat larger cracks may form in concrete over time as shrinkage occurs after pouring. In a common construction set up, the concrete slab is poured inside a wall that’s distinct from the actual building’s foundation wall. Thus, any cracks formed through shrinkage are not bearing any load from supporting the weight of the actual structure.

While this type of crack doesn’t lead to structural issues, you may want to inspect such cracks carefully. If the width is about one-eighth of an inch or greater, some seepage of moisture may occur. Applying a regular caulking sealant is an easy DIY fix.

Perimeter cracks

When you notice cracks around the foundation wall, even if they are similar in appearance to ordinary settlement cracks, take note that this area is of greater structural concern. Although perimeter cracks may still turn out to be harmless, in some cases, they are in areas supporting a significant load and may widen over time.

If possible, monitor the area for evidence of widening or additional crack formation. If you notice further deterioration in the area, especially if there are matching cracks in the foundation wall, then you should consider calling in a professional inspector.

Home wall cracks

Sloping and heaving

If your floor shows uneven slab sloping, or cracking and heaving, then structural issues such as poor soil compaction, severe soil expansion, and contraction, or unconventional pouring methods such as floating or monolithic concrete slabs may be part of the problem. One or more of these factors may be at work and resulting in the issue you are seeing.

Depending on the underlying cause of the problem, possible solutions may include fixing the soil drainage, proper leveling of the floor, or reinforcing the concrete slab. You’ll have to bring in an experienced contractor to make the assessment and tackle the necessary job.

Look for the visual cues and determine what kind of cracks and structural issues, if any, may be present, and you’ll know if there’s any cause for concern or further action to repair your concrete floor.

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