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How Foundation Cracks Can Hurt Your Wallet & Your Health

Everyone knows that foundation cracks can cause dampness or flooding in basements, but those aren't the only problems foundation cracks can cause. Cracks in foundations can cause your heating bill to be higher than it should, and they can also cause dangerous radon gas to permeate into your home. Here's what every homeowner needs to understand about how foundation cracks can impact their wallets and their health.

How your home's stack effect and negative air pressure causes problems

Every home and building has a stack effect. In the winter, it happens because the inside of the structure is warmer than the air outside. This causes the heat inside to rise, which suctions cooler air into the structure at the lower levels. This phenomenon is caused by negative air pressure inside of the home due to the stack effect. Along with air being suctioned into the home, radon can also enter through the foundation cracks. The opposite happens in the summer. When the interior is cooler than the exterior, the cool interior air sinks low and suctions hot air into the home from the upper levels.

Drafts from foundation cracks make your heating system work harder

Problem: The stack effect and negative air pressure phenomena in the winter pulls cool air into your home through cracks in your foundation. This causes your heating system to work harder to keep your home heated. This additional heat rises and causes more drafts from the foundation and the need for more heat. It's a never-ending cycle which can seriously impact your heating bill.

Pre-construction prevention: Vents should be built into the foundation and attic to control the stack effect and negative air pressure. The attic vents are often incorporated into the soffits and fascia. In the foundation, vents are often placed at regular intervals directly into the tops of the foundation walls.

Post-construction solution: Seal all foundation cracks to keep the drafts from your basement to a minimum. Improve your home's ventilation system to keep the air pressure equal so the stack effect doesn't cause negative air pressure inside your home. The hot air that escapes the vents at the top of your house will be replaced by an equal amount of cool air through vents in your foundation.

Foundation cracks allow dangerous radon gas to enter your home

Problem: Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is naturally found in soil. This gas can permeate through cracks in foundations and enter the home. Radon in homes causes as many as 21,000 cases of lung cancer each year. It is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.

Pre-construction prevention: Radon vent stacks installed in your foundation can control the radon. These stacks are a system of pipes that draw in and collect the radon from the soil underneath the foundation. It directs the radon up the stacks and out vents on the roof. In some areas, these radon vent stacks are required by local building codes due to the high radon levels found in those areas.

Post-construction solution: Of course, the foundation cracks will need to be repaired. However, it's a good idea to install a radon vent stack system in case of future cracks. A foundation repair service, like SafeGuard Waterproofing, can install a radon vent stack system. Depending on your home, this may mean holes may be drilled into your foundation flooring. The vent stacks are pipes that will go to the roofing. These are usually strategically placed in closets and within walls so they are hidden from view. If you have a finished basement, you may need to renovate the finished area after the radon vent stacks are installed.

Foundation cracks can cause dampness and flooding in your basement, but those problems should be the least of your concern. Foundation cracks can cause dangerous radon gas in your home, as well as an increase in your heating costs. Fill in the cracks in your foundation to prevent high heating costs and radon leakage.