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foundation cracks in the home

Understanding Types of Foundation Cracks

While some foundation cracks in the home are harmless, diagonal, horizontal, and stair-step cracks pose serious risks and should be fixed promptly.

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All homeowners, at some point, deal with foundation cracks. It is one of the most nerve-racking experiences. What most people don’t know is that some foundation cracks are quite harmless. Others are so bad they can cause the whole house to collapse. The key to safeguarding your home is to understand the types of cracks on your foundation and get a proper fix before it’s too late.

Still not sure if your foundation cracks are good or bad? Get an expert opinion today to avoid expensive repairs in the future.

Can Foundation Cracks Be Good?

Foundation cracks are a common occurrence in homes, both old and new. While they can be a cause for concern, not all foundation cracks are created equal. In fact, some cracks can be considered “good” and may not require any immediate action.

One example of a good foundation crack is a vertical crack. These cracks are often found in newly built homes and are typically caused by the natural settling of the foundation or tension created during the concrete drying process. They can also be caused by water pressure from heavy rainfall. Vertical cracks are usually less than 1/4 inch wide and don’t pose a serious threat to the structural integrity of the home.

If you do have a vertical crack, it’s important to monitor it regularly to make sure it doesn’t widen or become more serious. However, if the crack is small and doesn’t seem to be causing any issues, it may not require any repair.

If you do choose to repair a vertical crack, the process is relatively simple and inexpensive. One repair solution is to inject an epoxy or polyurethane solution into the crack to seal it permanently. These solutions are lightweight and durable, and when applied correctly, can fix the crack without causing any further damage to the foundation.

Foundation Cracks That Should Worry You

While some foundation cracks can be considered “good” and relatively harmless, others can be a cause for serious concern. Structural cracks are one type of foundation crack that should be taken very seriously. If you notice any of these cracks in your home or building, it’s important to have a licensed home inspector or structural engineer inspect them as soon as possible.

Structural cracks can be caused by a variety of factors, including soil settling, foundation movement, and water damage. They are often wider than 1/4 inch and can be diagonal or horizontal in nature. In some cases, you may notice that doors or windows in the affected area don’t close properly or that there are other signs of structural damage.

If you suspect that you have a structural crack in your foundation, it’s important to seek professional help right away. Ignoring the issue can lead to serious problems down the road, such as uneven floors, cracked walls, and even total foundation failure. A licensed professional will be able to assess the situation and recommend the best course of action, which may involve foundation repair or reinforcement.

Diagonal Foundation Cracks

The first type of crack that signifies a problem with your foundation is the diagonal crack. It usually runs at an angle of between 30 and 70 degrees. What differentiates diagonal cracks from vertical cracks is that they generally have one wider end and a narrow or tapering end. Some can run the entire length of the foundation wall.

When these cracks occur, it’s because of differential settlement of the home. This is when some parts of the house settle while the rest remains stable. It’s a common phenomenon in houses built on slopes or uneven foundations.

Just like vertical cracks, these types of cracks can be fixed by an epoxy or polyurethane solution. Diagonal cracks will take more material to fix when you compare them with vertical cracks. You also need to determine where the settlement is taking place to prevent future ones. Foundation piers may need to be installed by a professional contractor depending on how much settlement and damage has occurred.

Horizontal Foundation Cracks

When it comes to foundation cracks, horizontal ones are particularly concerning. These cracks occur when the ground pressure exceeds the strength of the basement walls, causing the wall to bow inward and crack horizontally. You’ll typically find them in basement walls and they’re often wider than 3mm.

Horizontal foundation cracks are worse than diagonal ones and can be a sign of serious structural problems in your building. They’re typically caused by heavy equipment use or excessive backfilling, although frost heave can also be a culprit in block or concrete foundations.

Horizontal walls pose serious structural risks. In the worst-case scenario, they can cause the whole building to collapse. The moment you notice them in your basement, you should call a qualified home inspector or structural engineer to assess the extent of the damage. You will be told whether you’re going to repair or replace the foundation.

Fixing horizontal foundation cracks can be complex and may involve removing excessive backfilling, installing supports, or even redoing the entire foundation wall. The severity of the damage and the type of foundation will determine the necessary repairs.

Stair-step Foundation Cracks

Another severe type of foundation crack you shouldn’t ignore is the stair-step foundation crack. These usually occur in brick or block foundation walls. Cracks appear on the mortar joints of the bricks or blocks. Just like diagonal cracks, they’re caused by soil settlement. This happens when the foundation of the house and the soil under it move horizontally and vertically.

Fixing stair-step cracks involves re-pointing the walls if the damage is not severe. Where necessary, piers may be installed around the foundation of the house to prevent further settlement. Only a licensed

structural engineer or home inspector can determine the extent of the damage and settlement to determine your next course of action. Timely repairs can prevent a potential disaster.

Don’t let foundation cracks cause you sleepless nights. Schedule a free inspection and estimate with the expert team at Mount Valley Foundation Services and get a lasting solution to your problem.

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