If you are a homeowner in Charlotte, NC, then you are all too familiar with the freezing cold winters and the hot, muggy summers. You also may be no stranger to the rain that falls several inches every year. In fact, the city of Charlotte, NC experiences an average of 43 inches of rain each year, on top of the several inches of snow that falls in January, February, March, and December. What homeowners may not realize is how the climate interacts with the soil to create the likelihood of cracks forming in your foundation walls.
Are Cracks in Foundation Walls Common for Homes in Charlotte, NC?
The state of North Carolina is abundant in what is known as Cecil soil. Cecil soil is known to have a sandy loam surface layer with a clay loam lower layer. Sand-based soils are finer in texture and smaller in size than clay-based soil particles, so they interact with the weather much differently. Sandy soils are more vulnerable to soil erosion by wind or water, while clay soils swell when they absorb water and shrink when this water evaporates.
The structure of your foundation is highly dependent on the condition of your soil, and the condition of your soil is contingent upon the climate of the area. Therefore, crack formation in foundation walls is common for homes in Charlotte, NC. Fortunately, the Dry Pro Foundation and Crawl Space Specialists have the solution fit for your foundation problems, with guaranteed quality and excellent service every time.
What Are the Problem Signs of Cracks in Foundation Walls?
Being able to spot the problem signs of crack formation in your foundation walls is one of the most important ways that you can prevent them. Here are some of the most common ones to look out for.
- Jammed or Misaligned Windows or Doors
Your foundation serves as a very important base for your home, allowing it to be strong and durable. Therefore, any structural issues with your home are often linked to problems developing in your foundation.
Having any misaligned windows or doors are one such warning sign that can signal that there is something structurally wrong with your foundation. You can tell if your windows or doors are misaligned if they start to become jammed when closing them or if you are unable to close them all the way properly. This can occur in any window or door in your home, however, it will most likely be the windows or doors on the first floor of your home, or even your basement, that can become jammed due to foundation wall issues.
Another subtle way you can tell if you have misaligned windows or doors is if you begin to feel drafts in the wintertime or if you feel the hot, muggy outside air in the summer, more concentrated towards these areas of your home. You may also notice that your energy bill is higher than normal as well, as you try to combat these extreme temperatures.
- Tilted Chimneys
Examining the state of your chimney also can alert you of whether or not you may have cracks in your foundation walls. Again, the structure of your home is highly reliant on the state of your foundation. Therefore, if there are any structural problems with your foundation, it will be reflected in the state of your house. Finding tilted chimneys is one such problem sign that you can find.
Even if you cannot directly see if you have a tilted chimney, you can look elsewhere on your chimney or on your roof to see if it is tilted. If you find any gaps between your chimney and your house, then it is very likely that your chimney is beginning to tilt or separate from your home.
- Damaged Flashing
Homeowners also can look at the flashing on their roof and see if there is any damage. The flashing of your roof is added to redirect water away from specific areas of your roof to prevent leakage. Flashing is typically made from a thin, metal material—usually steel—and is usually installed on any areas where there is a vertical surface. These can include vents, skylights, or chimneys.
Damage to roof flashing can reflect potential cracks in your foundation because they are connected to your chimney. Remember that a tilted or separated chimney is a potential warning sign that there are cracks in your foundation wall; these areas of your home are all connected.
- Cracks in Your Concrete Floors
One also can look to their concrete floors to find any cracks as well, since they can quite easily extend up into foundation walls. Some areas you can look at are concrete walkways around your house, porches, decks, and stairways.
There is also a phenomenon known as “street creep”. Street creep refers to any crack that has formed on the street that has reached your home. These cracks can “creep” onto your concrete floors and up onto your foundation walls.
What Causes Cracks in Foundation Walls?
Many of the causes behind cracks in foundation walls go hand in hand with how the climate and the Cecil soil of Charlotte, NC interact with each other throughout the year. These causes are soil washout, shrinkage, compaction, and settlement, and foundation heave.
- Soil Washout or Erosion
Sand-based soils commonly experience soil washout: a phenomenon in which soil particles are washed away by wind or water. This occurrence is also known as soil erosion. Since Charlotte, NC experiences wind speeds that average 7.1 miles per hour and rainfall that averages about 43 inches per year, soil washout is certainly frequent, especially since Cecil soil has a sandy loam surface layer. Furthermore, it is not just the rainfall that affects the amount of water that can enter the soil but also the several inches of snow that falls during the winter.
When soil is swept away, this can take away from the support that foundation walls need in order to be structurally stable. Less soil means a higher likelihood for foundation walls to sink, paving the way for crack formation.
- Soil Shrinkage, Compaction, and Settlement
The clay sub-surface layer of Cecil soil, on the other hand, can expand to larger sizes when it absorbs any amount of water. However, when this water evaporates, soil particles shrink back to their original size. Since Charlotte, NC experiences a decent amount of rain throughout the year but also fluctuates between cold and hot temperatures with the seasons, these shrinking and swelling cycles occur all the time.
Unfortunately, this repeated shrinking and swelling of soil particles can weaken the supporting capabilities of the soil underneath your foundation walls. Weakened soil is likely to become compacted downwards beneath the weight of your foundation and settle to lower levels than before. Lower levels of soil mean less support for your foundation walls, thus allowing cracks to form.
- Foundation Heave
Repeated swell-shrink cycles also can cause foundation heave, which ultimately results in cracks in foundation walls. Expansive soils, like clay, can exert an upwards pressure against your foundation, causing it to heave upwards. This can shift your foundation walls, causing cracks to form. Freezing temperatures also can cause foundation heave. Any water that freezes beneath your concrete also can push your foundation upwards.
How Can I Repair Cracks in Foundation Walls?
Repairing the cracks in your foundation walls is not an easy task to take on. It can be incredibly daunting, especially if you think you can take it on alone. Fortunately, the professional engineers at DryPro offer a wide variety of solutions to repair cracks in foundation walls. You can feel confident that you are receiving a quality product that works best for you and your home.
- IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair System
The IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair System is the best option for homeowners who wish to have minimal excavation around their home yet a strong solution for their foundation walls. It also can work best for those who have limited to no landscaping space outside their home for the other foundation wall repair options.
This system uses a zinc-coated metal I-beam, which helps it to resist any formation of rust, therefore allowing it to serve as a long-term solution for your foundation walls. These rust-resistant I-beams are installed directly to the inside of your foundation wall, supplying support from within. With the IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair System, you are guaranteed to have enough support for failing foundation walls that have cracks in them. A bonus is that if you are experiencing any signs of bowing or uneven walls, which can certainly be common in cracked foundation walls, the IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair System can help to straighten them over time!
- Channel Anchor System
While the Channel Anchor System does require some external excavation to be properly installed, this should not deter homeowners from considering this option when looking to repair your cracked foundation walls. The Channel Anchor System is made from galvanized steel: a metal that is resistant to both corrosion and rust, ensuring a longer-lasting solution. It is installed deep underground in the more dense, undisturbed parts of your soil and bolted to the deep, outside parts of your foundation walls for both strength and stability. Because it is installed several feet underground, it can use the stability of your soil to keep foundation walls up and prevent further cracks from forming.
- Wall Anchor System
The Wall Anchor System works in a similar fashion to the Channel Anchor System and is even installed similarly as well. In fact, often, both can be installed within a single day!
The Wall Anchor System also uses a rust and corrosion-resistant metal, also known as galvanized steel, and requires installation underneath your landscape. However, the Wall Anchor System pulls your foundation walls inwards, fighting against the pressure that may be exerted by expanding soil particles or excess water that makes its way under the ground and into your soil. This equal but opposite pressure provides your foundation walls with even more stability than before, therefore, preventing even more cracks from forming, or any other damage.
Cracks in Foundation Walls
Any form of structural damage in your home can become worse, especially if left alone for a long time. Although concrete is strong, it is not the perfect material. It still requires some annual maintenance from a local expert. This allows it to be inspected every once and a while, as well as repaired when it needs to be.
Once a crack has formed on your foundation wall, it always has the potential to grow larger and wider, especially if left alone. Cracks in foundation walls can extend to foundation floors, and, after years and years of neglect, they can even reach other areas of your home. You do not want this to happen to you, as structural damage in more than one area can be dangerous.
Structural damage also can cause your home to become uneven as well. This can happen via sinking, heaving, or tilting, depending on where the damage is found and how bad it is. Not only is this incredibly unsightly, but also this can make your home unsafe to inhabit.
Any opening in your foundation wall is an invitation for water to enter through. Water damage is quite common and can be one of the most expensive damages to repair. Some of these include:
- Mold and mildew
- Wood rot
- Musty odors
- Water stains
Leaks and floods also can introduce pests, both big and small. Many common insect pests are attracted to wet, humid environments, and cracks in foundation walls are the perfect way for them to enter your home. Larger pests, such as rodents, also can be tempted to enter your home through any available openings.
The Channel Anchor System and the Wall Anchor System are similar in a lot of different ways, however, there are several reasons why they are separate options for homeowners. Many of these differences have to do with their installation and how they work to repair your foundation walls.
The early steps of installation for both the Channel Anchor System and the Wall Anchor System are pretty much the same. The professional engineers at DryPro first begin by drilling holes into your landscape so that they can install earth anchors for the rust and corrosion resistant anchor beams to be attached to. The placement of these earth anchors allows the metal anchors to hold securely in place, deep enough into the soil where the rain, wind, and snow can interfere with the structure and condition of the soil particles. Once these earth anchors are in place, the anchor beams are attached and ready to be secured to your home.
This is where the two systems differ. The Channel Anchor System is installed vertically to your foundation floor while the Wall Anchor System is installed directly onto your foundation wall. Once both systems are in place, the engineers tighten them so that they are not shifted around.
How They Work
Both the Channel and the Wall Anchor System require excavation and several feet of space in front of your home to function properly. Because the Channel Anchor is attached to your foundation floor, it can stabilize your foundation wall by stabilizing your foundation floor. A stable foundation floor prevents shifting of and crack formation on your foundation walls.
The Wall Anchor is tightened to your foundation wall. This creates an outwards force on your foundation wall against any inwards pressure exerted from the outside. These outside forces can be expanding soil particles, excess rainwater, or even ice that has made its way underground and outside your foundation walls.
There are three main options that are offered by Dry Pro Foundation and Crawl Space Specialists: the IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair System, the Channel Anchor System, and the Wall Anchor System. Read on to figure out the differences between them to help you select the one that best fits your needs.
IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair System
When it comes down to it, the main difference between the three foundation wall repair systems depends on the amount of landscape space that you have around your home. For homeowners who have a limited landscape space, the IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair System is likely the best option for repairing cracks in your foundation walls, since it is non-invasive to your home. In fact, it is installed directly on the inside of your foundation walls, without any excavation needed!
Homeowners also do not need to worry about altering the look of their foundation walls or basement space, however. The IntelliBrace™ uses a very sleek metal beam that is coated with zinc to help it be extremely resistant to the formation of rust. Furthermore, it is not bulky at all, so you do not have to be concerned about how much space it takes. Once the IntelliBrace™ System is installed, it easily looks as if it has always been a part of your foundation wall but with extra benefits of stability, strength, and wall repair!
Channel and Wall Anchor System
Both the Channel and the Wall Anchor Systems are able to provide an intense amount of support for your foundation walls, helping them to remain stable and even repairing them over time. Unlike the IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair System, however, both Anchor Systems require our experts to drill holes around your property for installation. This is needed to properly place the anchor systems underground. Therefore, these two options work best for homeowners who have plenty of room in front of their landscaping to have them installed adequately.
The beams of the Channel and Wall Anchor Systems are constructed from a rust and corrosion resistant metal, so you are guaranteed to have them last a long time underground. These systems use the principle of an “equal but opposite force” against the problematic soil phenomena that occur because of the rainy and windy Charlotte, NC climate.
In Need of Foundation Repairs? Call Us Today!
Finding cracks in your foundation walls certainly can be stressful, especially when considering just how important the foundation is to both the structure and the stability of your home. No homeowner should have to deal with cracks in their foundation walls, and it is never a promising idea to put repairs off. Finding solutions can be tedious, difficult, and downright expensive.
Fortunately, with Dry Pro Foundation and Crawl Space Specialists, you never have to feel like there are hidden fees or wonder if a product is superior quality or not. Our experts will always be transparent with you and provide you with diverse options that can repair your home and best suit your needs. We can help you live in your home safely and without worry. Contact us today to schedule your free inspection!