A cracked foundation can happen, even if you have been diligent about foundation leak detection and other prevention measures. The health of your home depends on the foundation.
There are red or yellow flags that can mean a possible cracked foundation and repair is needed. However, the more you understand about the cracks then you are able to determine if things are normal and can continue to monitor cracks to see if they are growing. When there are cracks in your foundation, it’s important to look at the bigger picture and see if there are other warning signs of foundation issues. Look to see where the cracks are located and check for movement and crack patterns.
Hairline Cracks in the Foundation
An isolated crack only seen from the inside of the foundation isn’t unusual. Seasonal changes can cause contraction and expansion in the foundation and this can lead to a hairline crack. These cracks may or may not permit water seepage. If you have a hairline crack, it will be thin and consistent in width. These cracks should be less than a penny’s width in order to be considered a hairline crack. These should be repaired before they widen so water doesn’t seep in. Fixing these types of cracks now can be inexpensive and save you frustration and money later.
Wider Cracks or Multiple Ones in the Foundation
If you have multiple cracks or cracks that are wider than a hairline then this means your foundation is settling. There are also some additional signs to look for if you think your foundation is settling and this includes cracks in the drywall and whether or not your windows and doors close and open easily or stay open without you holding it. Outside the home, you should look for visible cracks. Settling is going to be a significant concern and this is something that is going to get worse over time. You want to repair this as soon as you can since the longer you wait, the more expensive and difficult it is going to be.
Stair Step or Horizontal Cracks
When you are under your home in the crawlspace or basement, look for signs of damage or cracks. If you see long, horizontal cracks then you are in dangerous territory. If you have foundation walls that are made of concrete blocks then cracks can look like stair steps. These are signs that the foundation is giving way. If there is soil outside the home saturated with water then it applies pressure to the wall. These cracks are a serious threat to the stability of the home and you should be repaired within the next eight weeks or as soon as you can.
Causes of Foundation Damage
There are different factors that can cause foundation damage. Overly dry or wet soil, loose soil, poor construction, frequent changes in temperature, and inadequate drainage can cause foundation cracks. Flooding is one of the most common causes of foundation damage, no matter how proactive you are with your foundation plumbing repair and waterproofing. Tree roots can also cause cracks, but foundations rarely crack from the roots coming up and instead do so from the tree drawing moisture out of the soil. If your home has a second story added and the original design wasn’t made for a two-story building then cracks can appear from the added weight.
Prevention of a Cracked Foundation
Many homes lack drainage. Drainage that was originally good when the home was built has been altered by changing or adding landscaping. See if the trees near the foundation have grown and are now causing damage or can cause future damage to the foundation. Check your yard drains to make sure they are not clogged and free-flowing. The covers of the drains should be intact and not damaged. Do you see areas where water could stand next to the foundation? Do you have gutters that are in good shape and are clean? Are the downspouts working correctly and not discharging the water toward the foundation? Are the patio, walkway, and soil sloping away from the perimeter of the home? Remember, it is cheaper to have better maintenance than it is to repair your home or foundation.