Concrete cracking is a frequent cause of complaints in the concrete industry. We at Basements Solutions understand the main causes for concrete cracking, and we can help you understand the reasons why it happens.
Cracking can be the result of one or a combination of factors such as drying shrinkage, thermal contraction, restraint (external or internal) to shortening, subgrade settlement, and applied loads. Concrete cracking can not always be prevented but it can be significantly reduced or controlled when the causes are taken into account and preventative steps are taken. At it can also be easily repaired if acted upon on time.
Another problem associated with cracking is public perception. Cracks can be unsightly but many consumers feel that if a crack develops in their wall or floor that the product has failed. In the case of a wall, if a crack is not structural, is not too wide and is not leaking water, it should be considered acceptable. We at basements solutions educate our customers about the seriousness of concrete cracks in walls and foundations.
Cracks that occur before hardening usually are the result of settlement within the concrete mass, or shrinkage of the surface (plastic-shrinkage cracks) caused by loss of water while the concrete is still plastic.
Settlement cracks may develop over embedded items, such as reinforcing steel, or adjacent to forms or hardened concrete as the concrete settles or subsides. Settlement cracking results from insufficient consolidation (vibration), high slumps (overly wet concrete), or a lack of adequate cover over embedded items.
Plastic-shrinkage cracks are most common in slabs and are relatively short cracks that may occur before final finishing on days when wind, a low humidity, and a high temperature occur. Surface moisture evaporates faster than it can be replaced by rising bleed water, causing the surface to shrink more than the interior concrete. As the interior concrete restrains shrinkage of the surface concrete, stresses can develop that exceed the concrete’s tensile strength, resulting in surface cracks. Plastic-shrinkage cracks are of varying lengths spaced from a few centimeters (inches) up to 3 m (10 ft) apart and often penetrate to mid-depth of a slab.
Cracks that occur after hardening usually are the result of drying shrinkage, thermal contraction, or subgrade settlement. One method to accommodate this shrinkage and control the location of cracks is to place construction joints at regular intervals. For example, joints can be constructed to force cracks to occur in places where they are inconspicuous or predictable. Horizontal reinforcement steel can be installed to reduce the number of cracks or prevent those that do occur from opening too wide.
The major factor influencing the drying shrinkage properties of concrete is the total water content of the concrete. As the water content increases, the amount of shrinkage increases proportionally. Large increases in the sand content and significant reductions in the size of the coarse aggregate increase shrinkage because total water is increased and because smaller size coarse aggregates provide less internal restraint to shrinkage. Use of high-shrinkage aggregates and calcium chloride admixtures also increases shrinkage.
Structural cracks in residential foundations usually result from settlement or horizontal loading. Most (but not all) structural cracks resulting from applied loads are nearly horizontal (parallel to the floor) and occur 16” to 48” from the top of the wall. They are much more prevalent concrete block construction. They can be brought about by hydrostatic pressure or heavy equipment next to the foundation.
As you can see, concrete cracking can happened for a number of reasons. The most important thing is to know that we at constructions solutions 911 can repair most concrete cracks.