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When Does a Concrete Crack Pose a Significant Structural Concern?


A: All concrete will crack to some extent. The reduction in moisture content that concrete experiences as it cures during construction will inevitably result in some minor cracks appearing on the concrete surface. As well, concrete is a brittle surface that can be prone to minor cracking during its service life.

Minor cracks on a concrete surface are often nothing more than an aesthetic issue. However, concrete cracking can be the first indication of a structural issue. So how do you know? As always, if in doubt consult an expert. The mantra “better safe than sorry” applies here.

There are several indicators that concrete cracking is potentially problematic.

  • If the concrete is cracked through the entire section, moisture ingress could occur which could cause corrosion of the concrete reinforcing.
  • Water staining and corrosion (rust) staining around cracks are evidence of moisture ingress which could compromise structural integrity.
  • Patterned cracking could be an indication of a structural problem. Examples of patterned cracking would include small cracks in line with reinforcing bars in walls or elevated concrete slabs or concentric cracking around columns in a slab on grade.  
  • Horizontal cracking in a foundation wall is an indication of structural distress and requires evaluation to determine the cause and the necessary repair. 
  • Any cracking in overhead concrete beams should also be evaluated.

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