Some cracks in concrete are harmless, but others need to be seen to as soon as practicable to prevent long term and expensive damage to the home. Here are four problems with leaving cracked concrete unrepaired:
1. Gas and Moisture Leak
A crack in the foundation concrete of a home can allow moisture and gases to leak into the house. Some gases are dangerous, such as radon. Radon, which is odorless, tasteless and colorless. It can accumulate in the lower floors of the house and put family members at risk of lung cancer. A homeowner who has cracks in the concrete in their basement or foundation might want to call in a professional to check for radon. If unacceptable levels of the gas are found, a radon mitigation team can be called in.
Methane is another gas that can seep into the house through a crack. It is not dangerous in itself the way carbon monoxide is, but in high concentrations it can replace the oxygen in the air. It is also very flammable.
2. Tripping Hazards
A crack in a concrete pavement or basement or on a concrete step that is wide and deep enough can simply pose a tripping hazard. This is another reason to get it repaired right away. Repairing benign cracks in the concrete is a fairly easy job that can be done by a DIYer. Both cracks in the wall and floor are fixable.
Some cracks are deep and wide enough to trap dirt and debris that can be hard for a homeowner to clear out. If the crack isn’t fixed, dirt and grime might accumulate to the point where they become a health hazard. Even if the dirt isn’t a health hazard, the sight of a large, grimy crack in a concrete pavement outside the home is an eyesore that can lower the house’s resale value.
4. Structural Failure
This is the biggest problem indicated by cracks in the concrete. A homeowner should become concerned if the crack continues to widen over time. Experts claim that an acceptable width of a crack is between 1/16 to 1/4 inch. Another sign that the house’s structure is at risk is a long crack that’s parallel to the floor and between 16 inches to four feet from the ceiling. Cracks that run diagonally nearly all the way across a wall are signs that the house is settling unevenly, as are diagonal cracks found at the corners of the house’s doors and windows. In this case, it is important for a homeowner to call in a contractor to inspect the house. Fortunately, there are many ways to repair structural failure, including helical piles and piers to support the house.