Cracking The Code: Understanding The Causes Of Concrete Cracks


You have probably noticed them in the sidewalk, driveway, or even in your own home: cracks in concrete. While it may seem like an aesthetic issue, there are many underlying causes for these unsightly blemishes.

Did you know that over 80% of all cracking in concrete is due to improper installation? Understanding the reasons why this happens is key to preventing and fixing these issues before they become a bigger problem.

In this article, we will explore the five major causes of concrete cracks so that you can take control and prevent them from happening again.

Improper Installation

Neglecting to properly install concrete can result in a myriad of issues, with cracking being one of the most common. Improper installation is often caused by inadequate curing or an incorrect ratio of water and cement, both resulting in an unstable foundation.

Even when the correct amount of cement is used, if it’s not adequately mixed or poured correctly, this too can lead to widespread cracking down the line. When these steps are overlooked during installation, they become costly repairs that could have been avoided had proper measures been taken upfront.

It’s important to ensure that all steps for installing concrete are completed accurately and efficiently. This means having the right tools, personnel and materials available before beginning any project. Additionally, using quality products such as sand and gravel will help keep your concrete from developing cracks due to poor quality components breaking down over time.

Taking these steps helps ensure a reliable structure that won’t require expensive repairs in years to come.

Environmental Factors

You know how the weather can have a huge impact on your day? Well, environmental factors also play an important role in determining whether or not a structure is vulnerable to damage.

For instance, extreme temperatures can create pressure that weakens the materials of a building, leaving it susceptible to other issues like wear and tear. High humidity levels are also known to contribute to concrete cracks due to increased absorption of water which then causes expansion and contraction when temperatures change. This can lead to cracking from excessive shrinkage or swelling over time.

In addition, if there’s an uneven distribution of moisture around the building, this too can cause concrete cracking as some areas may be more saturated than others causing them to expand faster than their surrounding counterparts.

All these environmental factors should be taken into consideration when constructing a structure so that it is better able to withstand extreme weather conditions and minimize the risk of cracking.

Poor Quality Concrete

If you don’t pay attention to the quality of the concrete used, you can end up with a structure that’s more susceptible to damage. Poor quality concrete is typically characterized by incorrect mixing or improper curing.

Incorrect mixing involves combining the wrong ratios of cement, water, and aggregate materials resulting in unevenly distributed components within the mixture. This can lead to an insufficient amount of cement paste which will lower strength and durability when exposed to harsh environmental conditions like freeze-thaw cycles.

Improper curing is also detrimental as it reduces strength and increases porosity leading to rapid degradation from water absorption. Curing should be done in an environment that is not too dry or too wet for optimal performance but if this step is rushed or skipped entirely then premature cracking and crumbling may occur as moisture evaporates quickly from unfinished surfaces.

With these risks in mind, it’s important to ensure that only high-quality concrete with proper mixing techniques are used during any construction project.

Corrosion of Steel Reinforcement

Pay attention to corrosion of steel reinforcement, as it can lead to weakened structures over time. Corrosion is caused by the combination of oxygen and water in a highly alkaline environment, such as concrete. This combination leads to an electrochemical reaction that causes the steel reinforcement bars (or rebar) to rust.

The resulting rust weakens the surrounding concrete, which can lead to cracking when exposed to temperature extremes and high humidity. Cracking can occur due to excessive shrinkage or expansion in different parts of the structure due to differing conditions on each side of the crack.

The weakened concrete may no longer be able to support its own weight or external forces for safety and stability reasons, leading further damage or even collapse if left unchecked.

Taking preventive steps early on will help ensure your structure remains durable over time and withstands environmental changes like extreme temperatures and humidity levels without compromising structural integrity.

Structural Movement

Structural movement, whether from wind or seismic activity, can put stress on your structure and cause it to shift or stretch over time.

Unsuitable foundations or inadequate drainage can magnify this problem by allowing the soil to move and destabilize the foundation of the construction. In turn, this may result in additional stresses on the concrete that cause cracks to form. To prevent concrete cracks and ensure a stable foundation, it is crucial to properly prepare the site before pouring the concrete. This involves assessing the soil conditions, conducting necessary soil stabilization measures, and providing adequate drainage systems to redirect water away from the structure. By addressing these factors, you can mitigate the risk of foundation movement and create a solid base for your construction project, reducing the likelihood of cracks and ensuring long-term structural integrity.

If left unchecked, these cracks can spread and ultimately weaken the structural integrity of a building. Therefore, when constructing any building, it’s important to ensure that its foundations are suitable for their environment and that there is adequate drainage to prevent water saturation and soil instability.

Without this precautionary measure in place, the structure is at risk of experiencing significant structural damage due to cracking caused by movements in its foundation.

By understanding potential sources of movement-related stressors ahead of time, you can take steps to reduce their impact on your project before they become an issue.


You now know the causes of concrete cracks, and now you can crack the code! You’re well on your way to becoming a concrete pro.

Poor installation, environmental factors, poor quality concrete, and corrosion of steel reinforcement can all lead to cracking in your concrete. But with careful attention to detail and proper upkeep, you can prevent these issues from ever occurring.

Imagine yourself as a building inspector inspecting a brand-new construction site.

Now that’s something worth celebrating!