Structural Foundation Cracks Can Be Dangerous

Structural Foundation Cracks Can Be Dangerous

Structural Foundation CracksWhen your concrete patio, sidewalk, driveway, or foundation begins to show cracks, you might start to panic. This is a natural reaction, but it is important to know that cracks in concrete are also a natural reaction. In fact, 95% of concrete cracks are harmless and nothing to be concerned about.

Why does concrete crack?

Concrete begins to crack when it is subjected to high tensile stress. “Tensile stress” refers to any number of forces that pull apart on something. Tensile strength is a measurement of how far something can stretch or elongate before it breaks or loses its structural integrity. Concrete has a very low tensile strength, and therefore cannot stretch very far before it begins to crack.
This is in direct contrast to “compressive strength.” Compressive strength is the exact opposite of tensile strength; it is a measurement of how much something can be compacted before it begins to lose structural integrity. Concrete has a very high compressive strength. It can withstand a lot of compaction before it begins to fail.
So what can we do about concrete’s low tensile strength to reduce cracking?
This is exactly why most concrete structures are reinforced with steel rebar. Rebar has a very high tensile strength, and it is embedded in the concrete to take the tensile stress off the concrete itself. In this way, we end up with a composite material that has both a high tensile strength and a high compressive strength.
This is why concrete-rebar structures are so popular. Not only are they quick to build, they are more durable than any single material.

Are there any cracks in concrete that are bad?

It is important to be upfront here: no matter how many precautions you take, ALL concrete will eventually crack. Most of these cracks are harmless; remember that about 95% of concrete cracks do nothing to compromise the structural integrity of the concrete itself.
Now, if you find a crack that is between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch wide, it is important to examine the concrete edges on both sides of the crack. If you compare one side of the crack to the other and you notice that there has been some additional movement—up and down, left and right, or in and out—then this may indicate some settling has occurred which could exacerbate an otherwise harmless issue.
Any cracks more than 1/4 inch wide could be a potential problem. Cracks of this size could indicate significant movement in your foundation, and you should consult a foundation or construction professional to evaluate the potential risks to your structure.
If you are concerned that your concrete foundation needs to be examined by a professional, Urgent Foundation Repair is your best choice! We are leaders in foundation repair and maintenance in the Dallas Fort Worth area. Give us a call or check out our website today. Our customer service team is ready to assist you, and our teams of dedicated, experienced industry professionals know how to get your foundation back to full strength right away.