Why is My House Foundation Flaking? (Concrete Spalling Guide)

July 13, 2023

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Understanding the foundation of your home is crucial to maintaining its structural integrity. If you've noticed flaking, crumbling, or chipping on your house's foundation, it's time to dig into the issue. 

You may have asked yourself, "Why is my house foundation flaking?" This problem is known as spalling. Spalling is caused by damage to the concrete, mortar, and brick. This can happen due to weathering, freeze-thaw cycles, or water seeping into cracks in the foundation. 

In this guide, we'll dig a little deeper into what spalling is, how to stop it, and whether it can be prevented or not.

Why is My House Foundation Flaking, and What is Spalling?

Have you ever wondered, "Why does my foundation look crackly?" It's most likely due to spalling. Foundational spalling refers to the deterioration of concrete in the foundation of a building or structure. It occurs when water seeps into the concrete and corrodes the rebar (reinforcing steel bars) inside, causing the concrete to flake, peel, pop out, or crumble. Over time, foundational spalling can seriously undermine the integrity of a house foundation.

why is my house foundation flaking

Why Does Spalling Happen?

Understanding spalling and why it happens is key to preventing it from occurring and properly managing it when it does.

The Freeze-Thaw Cycle

Homeowners who live in fluctuating climates often experience spalling more so than others. For example, the freezing temps of a northern winter coupled with hot summers cause changes in concrete foundations. Due to expansion, internal pressure builds in the concrete and causing cracking and flaking. That's when spalling takes root.

Salt Damage

In coastal areas or regions where road salts are used during winter, salt can cause significant spalling. When salt is left on concrete, it can absorb into the material and cause it to deteriorate from the inside, leading to flaking or peeling.

Poor Concrete Mix

If the concrete was improperly mixed or applied when your foundation was laid, it could lead to spalling. An incorrect water-to-concrete ratio or insufficient curing time can cause weak concrete to be prone to flaking.

How Can I Identify Spalling?

Identifying spalling can be relatively straightforward if you know what to look for. Here are some common signs:

  • Flaking or Chipping: The most obvious sign of spalling is the flaking or chipping of the concrete, brick, or stone on your foundation. This usually starts as small pits or depressions and can eventually become larger areas of material visibly missing.
  • Surface Pockmarks: Small, shallow divots called pockmarks often looking like the surface has been chipped away or pitted, are a common sign of early spalling.
  • Cracks: While not all cracks indicate spalling, cracks can allow water to penetrate the material, leading to spalling if not addressed. Hairline cracks may not be an immediate concern, but larger cracks should be evaluated and treated to prevent further damage.
  • Color Changes: Spalled concrete may also show changes in color. Often, the damaged area will appear lighter than the surrounding concrete as the fresh material underneath is exposed.
  • Rough Texture: The material's surface may feel rough to the touch, almost as if it's been weathered or eroded.
  • Disintegration: In severe cases, the concrete, brick, or stone may start to break apart or disintegrate.

You should take immediate action if you observe any of these signs on your home's foundation. It's essential to address spalling as early as possible to prevent further damage and maintain the integrity of your home's structure. In cases where you're unsure, it's always wise to consult a professional who can evaluate thoroughly.

What Can I Do About Spalling?

If you happen to come across spalling on your house's foundation, don't automatically panic. Fortunately, there are a few ways the problem can be solved. However, the likelihood of needing professional intervention is high if the spalling be out of control.

Seal the Concrete

One of the simplest methods to prevent spalling is to seal the concrete. Sealing can provide a protective layer that prevents water from seeping in, avoiding the freeze-thaw cycle.

Resurface the Concrete

You can resurface the concrete for minor spalling to replace the damaged outer layer. You will first need to remove the spalled concrete, then apply a new layer of correctly mixed concrete.

Hire a Professional

Honestly, seeking the help of a seasoned contractor is probably the best route to go down. When foundation damages are extensive untrained homeowners may not know how to adequately handle it, an experienced contractor will inspect the foundation and create a repair plan that offers long-term results. The goal is to prevent future spalling outbreaks.

contractor completing a foundation inspection for a house

Can Spalling Be Prevented?

Absolutely! The most powerful way to stop spalling is routinely sealing your foundation's concrete. You'll also want to make sure the drainage system around your home is working at full speed. Flooding is the number one cause of foundation damage. Are you in the process of installing a new concrete foundation? If so, it's imperative the concrete is mixed and cured to perfection.

Conclusion

While spalling might seem unnerving, understanding how to handle it can save you a lot of stress and maintain the integrity of your home's foundation. Stay on the lookout for signs of flaking, and take instant action when you notice cracks. By doing these things, your foundation should stay strong for years down the road.

 

About Peoria Foundation Repair & Waterproofing Pros

When searching for a team of contractors that offers fair, affordable rates, FREE estimates, and a wealth of experience, you want Peoria Foundation Repair & Waterproofing Pros. Our company has decades of on-the-job training and a great work ethic. We specialize in residential and commercial foundation repair and waterproofing services. Please call us today to set up a consultation. We have emergency appointments available.

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