When it comes to concrete and foundation repair, it’s important to look past just visible damage and approach repair with a multi-step process to both seal and structurally reinforce the cracks to prevent any future failures. The most common mistakes in foundation and concrete repair happen at the get-go when the problem is not analyzed thoroughly. Proper diagnosis is crucial, and this includes understanding the cause of the failure, asking the right questions and preparing for the repair properly.
Oftentimes, cracks in foundations are only addressed with polyurethane or epoxy injections and many contractors focus solely on filling the crack and stopping any leaks and water. What they’re often not looking at is what caused the crack to form in first place. As the epoxy is much stronger than the concrete, the epoxy itself isn’t going to fail, it is the area where the injection bonds to the concrete that will give up. The bond of the epoxy will eventually break as poured walls move and shift.
Most repair methods don’t address the weak zone, the area outside of the main crack that is often invisible to the eye. If analyzed closely, small hairline fractures often appear to spiral off the main crack- this is considered the weak zone. If the weak zone is not addressed, the polyurethane or epoxy will cause the crack to further open and fail.
Ignoring the weak zone, misdiagnosing a crack as just a small water intrusion and not addressing the fact that there may be movement in the wall are common mistakes when it comes to foundation and concrete repair. To better address the problem the first time and avoid call-backs , the focus should not just be filling the crack but also structurally reinforcing the repair to ensure that it does not fail again.
Ask the property owners the right questions; how long have they seen that crack for? Have they seen the crack close and then re-open depending on the season? Has there been exterior excavation or disruption to the foundation? Were there any modifications or changes that would change the stress load of the house, such as egress windows?
Address the entire area of the crack and use the right tools and solutions to help bond the concrete back and structurally reinforce the concrete so that the crack can’t reopen and start leaking again. For advice on the best solutions, contact us at Arco!
Contractors should also look for solutions that can be applied from the interior and exterior of the house. With block walls it is important to understand the basement environment first, understanding the cause of the problem and how that foundation was built and waterproofed is critical to developing a solution. When it comes to block walls, bowing is the most common problem. Like cracks or damage in poured walls, it’s important to take a look at the whole picture. For example, looking at the soil type on the exterior of the foundation. The type of soil as well as expansion can cause small hairline cracks in the foundation. These hairline cracks often increase and cause severe inward pressure and movement to the point where the wall bows inward. Another common problem in block walls are stair step cracks. It’s often repaired by just filling the crack with hydraulic cement, but to ensure it doesn’t fail again, contractors should look for a solution that goes one step further and strengthen the whole area with carbon fiber crack repair that will reinforce the stair step crack in all directions.
Some contractors make the common mistake of repairing concrete with more concrete. They will repair damaged concrete by only applying hydraulic cement over that area or only applying epoxy, but it’s important to stress the importance of using materials that are stronger than concrete like carbon fiber which is the only true solution that will stop the concrete from re-breaking. Given its strength, carbon fiber is being used more and more in residential construction and has long been used to repair and reinforce aging civil and commercial structures. While the construction industry is beginning to embrace the material, many are still unaware of how versatile carbon fiber really is. The cost of carbon fiber has also decreased over the years, making it an overall cost-effective solution as prices are low and it offers a permanent solution to concrete cracks and foundation damage resulting in less call-backs, less time used for installation and repairs and long-term cost savings for the homeowners.
While there are common cracks and damage found in concrete and foundation not all problems can be resolved with the same solution repeatedly. For contractors to get the repair right the first time, the best solution is to find one unique to the problem at hand, using the right tools and materials and focusing on not just the crack itself, but the overall environment where the damage is found.