Foundation Cracks: When to Worry and How to Address Them

Published On: August 25, 20231 Comment on Foundation Cracks: When to Worry and How to Address ThemTags: Last Updated: January 27, 20244.6 min read

A house is only as strong as its foundation. The foundation carries the weight of the entire home, which makes it crucial to inspect and maintain. However, when you discover cracks in your foundation, you may feel concerned. While some cracks may be harmless and easy to fix, others might signal more severe structural issues. Investing in foundation crack repair can make all the difference in ensuring your home’s stability.

foundation crack

Here’s a guide to help you decipher between the two types of cracks and ensure your home’s longevity and safety.

Hairline Cracks: Don’t Panic

After construction, basement walls often have hairline cracks. These cracks often form around windows, doors, or corners due to natural settling or concrete deformation during the curing process. If the crack width is comparable to a thread of fabric, there’s no immediate cause for concern. To address these, you can simply apply specialized brick paint to seal them up.

Monitoring New, Narrow Cracks

Sometimes, you might discover a crack wider than a hairline but not exceeding ⅛ inch. While this is often the result of settling, it’s important to monitor it for expansion. Mark the crack ends with a pencil, noting the date. Keep an eye on its progress, checking monthly. If there’s no change in size or seepage, it’s typically stable. You can seal it with cement and smooth the surface with a putty knife.

Addressing Cracks Between ⅛ to ¼ Inch

Cracks within this range can occur from initial settlement or concrete contraction a few months post-construction. While they might not indicate a structural problem, it’s essential to cover them to protect against moisture and other external elements. These gaps can be filled with concrete-compatible caulk.

Horizontal Cracks Near the Basement Floor

Horizontal cracks at the connection between the foundation wall and basement floor aren’t generally signs of structural damage. Such cracks form because basement floors are poured after walls, leading to structural issues. Though these cracks might let in water, they can be sealed with concrete-compatible caulk, especially if they don’t exceed ½ inch in width. For larger cracks, seek professional assistance.

huge foundation crack

Moisture Through Cracks: Act Quickly

Damp basements or crawl spaces are typical due to their location below grade. However, water leaking through cracks increases mold and bacteria risks. While sealing the crack is essential, diverting water from the foundation is equally crucial. Remove any close foundation plantings, ensure your drainage system is functional, and maintain a yard gradient that directs water away from the foundation.

Larger Cracks Need Professional Assessment

Cracks exceeding ½ inch in width should prompt consultation with a foundation specialist or structural engineer. Even if many of these cracks are harmless, it’s always better to seek an expert opinion. While some larger cracks can still be addressed DIY-style, any structural issues should be investigated.

Bulging Walls and Large Cracks: Immediate Attention Required

A bulging foundation wall accompanied by a significant crack signals a serious structural issue. Such problems can arise in areas with clay soil, which expands when wet. This swelling pressures the wall, potentially leading to cracks. Any noticeable deflection or deviation from the standard wall structure calls for a professional assessment. It’s essential to prioritize foundation crack repair services in such instances, as they have the expertise to identify and resolve the problem.

Horizontal vs. Vertical Cracks: A Key Distinction

While any foundation crack can be unsightly, it’s essential to note their direction. Horizontal cracks, especially without bulges, should be taken seriously. On the other hand, diagonal and vertical foundation cracks are often due to regular settlement and can be treated as mentioned previously. Still, if in doubt, always consult a professional.

Direction-Changing Cracks: A Sign of Soil Movement

Cracks that curve or resemble stair-step patterns in brick joints can be concerning. This pattern might mean that the soil around your home is shifting and placing different pressure levels on the foundation. This makes it move in unexpected ways. Such cracks should never be ignored. Soil tests and samples can help determine the level of the problem. When facing these issues, seeking out foundation crack repair services can offer expert solutions to ensure the structural integrity of your home remains uncompromised.

Epoxy Injection: An Effective Solution for Concrete Cracks

One of the favored methods to address foundation cracks is epoxy injection. Typically employed for cracks in concrete foundations post some significant event, like an earthquake, epoxy injections can seal foundation cracks effectively. This method involves cleaning the crack, ensuring it’s dry, and injecting epoxy until filled. If the crack continues to be wet, it is recommended that you seek professional assistance.

DIY vs. Professional Care – What is Better?

For homeowners, addressing foundation cracks may seem like a DIY project. While minor issues like hairline cracks can often be managed with a few tools and materials from the local hardware store, the foundation’s importance shouldn’t be overlooked. Before diving into DIY solutions, consider the crack’s size, location, and any visible signs of potential structural damage. Oftentimes, what appears to be a minor problem is only the tip of the iceberg, indicating a deeper, more serious issue. It’s always wise to get a second opinion, especially when it comes to foundation crack repair. Professionals in foundation crack repair not only possess the expertise and tools to conduct thorough inspections but also provide sound advice on the most effective solution. When in doubt, always consult with an expert to ensure the safety and longevity of your home.

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  1. Elle Jones December 1, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    I’m delighted you discussed how Even though the majority of these cracks are benign, it’s always advisable to consult an expert. Larger cracks may still be fixed do-it-yourself, but structural problems need to be looked into. My mother bequeathed our family home to me upon her death. The property might have foundation problems because of the many wall fissures and sunken areas of the flooring. I’ll arrange for a property inspection as soon as possible by getting in contact with the foundation repair company. Regards.

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