Handyman

Handyman | Scott Balentine on repairing a cracked basement

Updated: 2013-01-13T01:33:34Z

By SCOTT BALENTINE

Special to The Star

Q. My husband and I have lived in our home for 19 years and never had a foundation problem until after the very hot summer. Our basement floor has a crack in part of the floor. The crack started small and has reached almost to our washer and dryer area. It doesn’t seem to be going any further. How can you repair a crack in your basement floor?

A. The drought that we’ve experienced has taken its toll on many foundations. The soil in this area has a high content of clay. During a long dry spell, the clay dries out and shrinks. You might have noticed some large cracks in the soil around your yard this summer as well.

While basement floor cracks are mostly a cosmetic issue, there can be some unpleasant side effects. Occasionally, these cracks will allow ground moisture to enter the basement and cause damp, musty odors. In severe cases, the basement can become damp and moldy. Some homeowners with older homes with excessive floor cracks experience problems with sewer gas smells building up in the basement.

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many options available to repair basement floor cracks. There are epoxy kits at home stores that will fill small shallow cracks related to settling or shrinkage. Larger cracks will probably need to be dealt with by a professional repair company.

Other solutions include a concrete overlay, provided the cracking isn’t too severe. In worst case scenarios, the entire floor might need to be replaced.

It’s a good idea to keep track of changes in the length and width of the crack. If the crack continues to expand, you might consider having it evaluated by a foundation repair company or structural engineer. In the meantime, keep the soil around your foundation damp, be sure your gutters and down spouts are functioning properly and be sure there is sufficient ground slope away from your foundation wall.

Scott Balentine is owner of Lifestyles Custom Homes & Remodeling in Overland Park. Send questions to home@kcstar.com or Handyman, House + Home, FYI, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.

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