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Concrete is among the strongest and most durable building materials in use today. However, even this tough substance is subject to stresses and environmental changes, which can lead to worrisome cracking. Fortunately, understanding the causes of cracks will help you describe the necessary concrete repairs to a professional so they can help protect your home’s foundation, walls, outdoor stairs, or another structure. 

What Are Some Types of Concrete Cracks?

1. Plastic Shrinkage

The first state of concrete after laying, when still wet, is known as the plastic stage. When the water evaporates, it can leave behind voids which can lead to cracks in the surrounding material. As water is an essential component in this material, small, difficult-to-see plastic shrinkage cracks are normal. However, a mixture containing excessive amounts of water will contain larger voids and will consequently be at risk of more severe cracking.

2. Expansion

Concrete exposed to heat will gently expand. When the expanding structure encounters resistance in the shape of support members, masonry, or rigid fixtures, the resulting pressure can force it to crack. To counter this, expansion joints made from compressible materials like foam rubber, plastic, or asphalt mixtures are installed. These absorb the pressure of the expanding material, protecting it and reducing the need for unexpected concrete repairs.

3. Settling

When the ground beneath a layer of concrete settles, it can create a void that will leave the material without needed support. As a result, the material will break and settle into the shifting soil below. This can occur due to a home’s natural rate of settlement following construction or when the soil below the structure is disturbed and replaced without being re-compacted.

4. Overload

Although concrete is very durable, it can only withstand certain amounts of pressure, after which its strength can fail and result in cracking. In most cases, residential concrete isn’t placed under loads heavy enough to cause failure. 

It’s common for moisture, such as groundwater or rain, to penetrate the soil below a slab, making the ground soft and spongy. Without the original soil density, which formed its base of support, the weight above the structure can be enough to cause it to fracture.

As always, be sure to contact your local masonry experts for chimney repairs, fireplace repairs, tuckpointing, waterproofing and stone work of all kinds! Call Oberer Construction Company today at (513) 829-5270.

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