Cracks in concrete surfaces like walls, foundations, and driveways are an inevitable issue for most homes across the Midwest. The extreme temperature fluctuations, freeze/thaw cycles, droughts, and clay-rich soils make concrete cracks very common in this region. Thankfully, concrete contractors have a variety of effective methods for repairing cracks and preventing further damage.
Below are 5 of the most common crack repair techniques used for Midwestern homes. Each section covers the repair method, typical causes of those crack types, and additional details on the process. Identifying the root cause is key to choosing the best long-term repair.
This article was put together by our team who completes foundation crack repair in Ann Arbor.
1. Epoxy Injection for Minor Cracks
Epoxy injection is the most popular and cost-effective method for repairing small cracks, typically under 1 inch wide. This involves using specialized equipment to inject thick epoxy resin into the crack under high pressure. The epoxy bonds and hardens within the crack, sealing it completely.
Epoxy injection works well for:
- Minor settlement cracks from shifting soil
- Small cracks from temperature changes
- Stabilizing cracks along the foundation
- Superficial cracks from impacts or damage
The process involves drilling small ports along the length of the crack to inject the epoxy. The ports are spaced 4-8 inches apart for thorough coverage. The epoxy cures within 24 hours. After the crack is sealed, the access ports are sealed as well.
2. Router and Seal Repair for Large Horizontal Cracks
For more substantial horizontal cracks up to 2 inches wide in walls or foundations, the router and seal method is often the best repair technique. This involves using a specialized concrete router to cut open and widen the entire crack into a full V-shape.
After widening the crack:
- The area is cleaned thoroughly with water and air
- Any deteriorated concrete is chipped away
- A flexible elastomeric sealant is applied with a caulk gun
- The sealant fully fills the routed channel and seals the crack
Router and seal works well for large cracks typically caused by:
- Heaving and shifting from freeze/thaw cycles
- Drought conditions contracting the soil
- High clay content leading to expansion
The wider V-shape and flexible sealant allow for movement and prevent further cracking.
3. Gravity Feed for Vertical Cracks
Gravity feeding liquid polymer compounds is the go-to method for repairing vertical cracks in concrete walls. With this method, the liquid compound is poured into ports at the top of the crack. Gravity causes the liquid to flow down and fill the entire crack from the inside out.
Gravity feeding works well for:
- Cracks from seismic activity and vibrations
- Structural issues like settling foundations
- External forces like tree roots or heavy traffic
Multiple thin applications of the polymer may be needed for wider or deeper cracks. The compound expands slightly as it cures, bonding tightly within the crack.
4. Cold Joint Treatment
Cold joints form naturally where two sections of concrete cure and harden separately, leaving an vulnerable seam between them. The seam is prone to cracking. Cold joint repair involves:
- Chipping out any loose or deteriorated concrete
- Cleaning and prepping the seam
- Filling the gap with a flexible polyurethane sealant
Typical cold joint causes:
- Pouring concrete in multiple stages
- Pausing work partway through installation
- Improper concrete curing conditions
The polyurethane sealant flexes with the concrete and maintains a tight seal across cold joints.
5. Crack Stitching for Heavy Cracks
For very heavy, extensive cracking, crack stitching is the most comprehensive repair method. It involves using special steel bars coated in epoxy to essentially “stitch” a crack back together.
The process includes:
- Drilling holes along each side of the heavy crack
- Inserting epoxy-coated steel bars and anchoring in place
- Injecting additional epoxy resin to seal
Crack stitching adds structural reinforcement and restores integrity to heavily cracked concrete. It works well for cracks caused by:
- Repeated heavy loads or equipment
- Erosion near foundations
- Major impacts or explosions
Crack stitching takes special equipment and concrete repair expertise but delivers lasting repairs.
Identifying the root cause of cracking is key to choosing the best repair method. Consulting professional concrete contractors can be extremely beneficial for accurate diagnostics and long-lasting crack repairs in Midwestern homes.
Repairing common concrete cracks is critical for Midwestern homeowners to maintain structural integrity and prevent further damage.
As reviewed in this guide, the main crack repair techniques include:
- Epoxy injection for minor settlement cracks
- Router and seal for substantial horizontal cracks
- Gravity feeding polymers for vertical wall cracks
- Treating cold joints with flexible polyurethane
- Crack stitching for heavy, extensive cracks
Choosing the right method depends on properly diagnosing the type and cause of cracking, whether from temperature changes, soil issues, structural forces, or major impacts. Consulting professional concrete contractors can be invaluable for their expertise in diagnostics and repair methods.
Performing the proper concrete crack repair provides peace of mind by weatherproofing the home, preventing leaks, and enhancing aesthetics. With the right diagnostic analysis and repair technique, most common concrete cracks in Midwestern homes can be repaired successfully for the long haul. This helps maintain structural integrity and prevent further cracking or deterioration.