For many households, the basement is a convenient place to store things. Your basement might house your water heater, washer and dryer, and other household appliances. However, your basement is also the site of your home's foundation. It's important to check on your basement periodically to make sure your foundation is still structurally sound. Shifting earth, excess water, and poor initial construction can all lead to foundation damage over the years. Here are four things you should do if you notice any cracks in your basement foundation.

1. Thoroughly investigate your foundation.

Basement cracks can appear anywhere there is concrete. Cracks in the basement wall are easy to spot, but cracks in the floor may be hidden by rugs, appliances, or boxes. Move things around to conduct your own investigation. Look for hidden cracks that may not be immediately apparent. The number and severity of the cracks in your basement can give you an idea of how damaged your foundation is.

2. Call a basement foundation repair specialist.

A basement foundation repair company can patch up any cracks in your basement. Wall cracks may not be absolute proof of deeper structural damage, but it's still wise to have them inspected by an expert. Wall cracks can sometimes be repaired quickly and easily using epoxy to fill the crack. If your floor is cracked or if the damage to your basement wall extends farther than the eye can see, foundation repairs may be necessary. An expert will be able to tell you for sure.

3. Allow your repair specialist to address any issues they find.

Some cracks cannot be repaired using a simple patch. If your foundation repairman believes the crack is large enough to compromise the seal of your foundation, they will need to add additional insulation. Spray foam can be used for this purpose. Your repairman will apply foam into deep cracks in your basement floor and walls. The foam will be allowed to expand before excess is cut away. Once the foam has cured, epoxy will be used to repair the cement itself. Patched basement foundations may be repainted for a seamless look.

4. Have your basement walls reinforced.

If cracks are caused by your basement walls flexing due to pressure from the earth outside, you will need to have your walls reinforced. When left unchecked, bowing basement walls can eventually collapse, which can cause expensive property damage to your home. A repair specialist can reinforce your basement walls using reinforced steel applied in strips.

If you think your basement foundation may be damaged, talk to a basement foundation repair company for more information about your options.