As a potential home buyer or homeowner, a crack in your home’s foundation could be a cause for alarm. As much as cracks should be a good enough reason for concern, the good news is that not all cracks should have you worried. Many foundation cracks are not major and can be dealt with easily.
Some cracks could mean that water may have found its way into the basement during heavy rains while others may be an indicator of very serious structural problems.
Let’s explore the different types of cracks and their severity:
Kinds of Foundation Cracks and How They Can Be Fixed
It is important to know the many causes and dangers of cracks in foundation to know how to tackle the problem and deal with it accordingly.
The idea is to know the type of crack you have. With that information, you are able to determine the cause and method of fixing.
The vertical crack is one of the most frequent cracks observed in foundations. It is the least alarming and least severe crack you can encounter. As the name suggests, it goes straight from the bottom to the top.
A crack that is slightly diagonal, within 30 degrees of vertical is also referred to as a vertical crack.
Foundation settling is one of the most common causes of vertical cracks. New homes are the obvious victims because a new house can take a few years to fully settle. The good news is that this type of crack is easy to seal and at a relatively inexpensive cost.
The thing to note is that concrete is strong but under compression, it has a tendency to crack easily under tension.
These types of cracks shouldn’t be alarming but they do need to be dealt with because they can allow for water to sip in during heavy rains. Once you cover the crack, it would be a good idea to switch up the décor and give your home a facelift.
A diagonal foundation crack is yet another common crack. It runs at about 30 to 75 degrees to the foundation or basement wall. This foundation crack may be a very marginal crack on one end but will most likely be much wider on the other end.
The cause of this crack lies in the differential setting of the foundation. Differential settling happens when a side of the house’s foundation relaxes at a lesser point as compared to the remaining foundation. This brings about an uneven tension causing diagonal cracking.
The differential setting could happen when a house is built on a hill, or perhaps when a section of the home is built over soil that is expanding and contracting while the rest of the house is firmly supported.
A diagonal crack is more expensive to repair compared to a vertical crack. This is because you will also deal with the cause of the differential settling once you seal the crack to prevent it from happening again.
The solution may end up being a simple process such as installing new gutters to prevent rainwater from reaching a portion of your property that floods easily, because this water may be the cause of the soil shifting.
A step crack is not necessarily on the foundation. It can be seen above the foundation on the exterior wall. This type of crack is common in concrete block or brick exterior homes.
Step cracks are normally treated in the same way you would diagonal cracks because they too are a result of the house’s differential setting. A step crack isn’t normally serious if the cracks are only in the mortar joints between the block and the brick.
This type of problem can be fixed by repointing the mortar. However, if you notice that the brick or block has been displaced (it has moved outward or inward from the material on the opposite side of the crack), or the cracks extend through various blocks, you could have a serious problem on your hands.
Always ensure that a step crack is inspected by a structural engineer or a Certified Home Inspector to determine how severe the case is.
A horizontal crack on your foundation is quite serious.
They run sideways from left to right and are a sign that your home’s structural integrity and foundation have been compromised. You may notice them in poured concrete foundations but they are more commonly noted in brick or concrete block foundations.
These types of cracks are brought about by a bowing foundation.
Bowing foundations are extremely serious and could lead to structural failure causing the house to collapse. The exterior of a foundation wall is normally covered by backfilling of gravel and dirt.
If the backfill is not professionally and properly done, is overly compressed (most times this is done by the equipment used during construction) or does not have the right drainage, the excess amount of pressure against the foundation wall will cause it to bow inwards.
Sometimes the problem may be excess rain which is then followed by freezing temperatures. Such climatic changes could increase hydrostatic pressure behind the foundation wall and also cause the foundation to bow inwards.
There are different techniques and solutions for fixing a bowing/horizontal foundation. However, it is vital to have the foundation in question assessed by a licensed structural engineer. The repair technique and plan should be determined by him/her.
Fix the Cracks On Time
Remember that foundation cracks in your foundation may or may not be cause for alarm. You should, therefore, get in touch with a professional who will help you determine the severity of the damage and ensure that your home gets structural integrity in the end.
The last thing you want to do is underestimate a crack only for it to cost you your entire house.
After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have a new home or want to give your current one a makeover, do check out our blog for ideas and tips on amazing décor for your living space.