Basements require critical care and maintenance, though.
You’ve probably noticed cracks in basement walls at some point. They’re extremely common and not always a cause for alarm. However, it’s important to understand that these cracks can signify structural problems with your home or a potential water hazard. Cracked basement walls are no laughing matter, so it’s important to know what causes them so you can be prepared.
Cause: Water in the Ground
Most of the time, the ground around your home is solid. It helps to hold your home in place and prevents your foundation from moving around. However, if you get a lot of rain or moisture in the ground, that can cause a bit of sway. As the soil becomes more malleable, then your foundation might move a bit. As it moves, cracks will begin to appear on your basement walls. Furthermore, clay soil will absorb water and expand, becoming bigger and heavier. As it moves and expands, the basement wall will move, causing cracks to appear on your basement walls.
Cause: Weather Changes
Weather changes can cause a lot of strain on any home. In the Midwest, quick changes from cold to hot weather can cause your home’s materials to expand and contract quickly, which can result in cracked basement walls. Weather changes will also affect the soil around your home, which can add greater pressure to it and cause cracks to appear.
Cause: Bad Footing Drains
Footing drains are pipes that are supposed to be placed at the base of your foundation when the home is built. This keeps any excess moisture from settling against your house so the soil will remain solid. However, some houses have bad footing drains or no footing drains at all. This leaves your foundation with no protection from damp soil, which will cause it to shift and crack. It can also leave you at risk of basement flooding.
Cause: Ground Settling
Over time, the pressure of driving into your garage or driveway or moving around in your home will cause the ground to settle. If the ground settles unevenly, then your foundation will start to bow or crack. If the ground settles unevenly or your foundation is sitting on this loose backfill, then your foundation will settle with the soil and start to crack.