Concrete Cracks: Reason for Concern?

You’re touring a property with a buyer when they spot a big crack in the driveway, sidewalk, or concrete patio area. Should the crack make them be concerned that bigger problems lurk?

They may not want to disregard the house completely from their list. Concrete cracks are common and not necessarily cause for alarm. Builders use concrete a lot due to its strength, durability, versatility, and affordability. But it does have a propensity to crack – and often there’s nothing the home owner could have done to avoid it.

Read more: 3 Home Inspection Deal-Breakers

“Given enough time, weather and wear, your concrete will eventually develop at least a hairline crack – or multiple cracks,” according to a new article that breaks down the cracks in concrete at Houzz.com. “There are many forces that lead to cracking, some of which can begin to appear only hours into the drying process.”

Cement can crack for various reasons -- such as soil upheaval, expansion and freeze-and-thaw cycles. Hairline cracks in concrete are common and can't likely be avoided either.

Hairline cracks are “not usually a sign of a major problem,” according to the article. “Hairline cracks are inevitable, unfortunately, but good contractors carefully monitor the water and mix ratio (too much water will increase the likelihood of shrinkage cracks), use synthetic-fiber additives to minimize cracks, and provide crucial control joints to accommodate unavoidable cracks.”

Just like the outdoors, concrete floors and countertops also have a likelihood of cracking. But interior floors usually are large and have more substantial reinforcement than an exterior patio and the interior climate is more manageable that can minimize cracking.

As for any concerns, home buyers should get all property cracks thoroughly investigated by a professional. But a cement crack likely won't crumble a deal.

Source: “Why Concrete Wants to Crack,” Houzz (October 2015)