What Your Home is Telling You: Foundation Cracks
What Causes a Foundation Crack?
There are many factors to consider if you notice a crack in the foundation of your home. Some of the most common causes include settlement or slippage, shrinkage of concrete or lumber, and inadequate external drainage. In general, you should keep in mind the effects that climate and precipitation can have on a home. Soil can and will erode over time, water will weaken materials used in construction over time, and clogged drains mean that water will saturate the ground surrounding your home.

I have noticed a foundation crack, do I need a structural repair?
There is no simple answer to this question. In order to determine what type of repair is required, you should contact a foundation or structural repair expert. A technician can investigate the crack and provide you with estimates for repair. Most small cracks can be repaired easily and inexpensively. A larger fountain crack may require extensive structural repair, but in order to determine the extent of the damage, you need to have it assessed by a professional.

What else do I need to know?
If a crack appears in your foundation, there is a reason. While that reason might be normal settling of the home, it could potentially be more serious. Therefore, you should correct any conditions that may have caused the crack before the problem gets worse. It is cheaper and easier to repair minor issues than major issues.

If your basement does not have an interior drain, installation will be recommended at the time of inspection. The same is true for french drains, which will alleviate soil saturation next to your foundation. Drainage is a key component of basement waterproofing, because it is critical to keep water out of your basement and away from your exterior walls.

Is there anything I can do to prevent foundations problems in my home?
The good news is that you can help to prevent foundation problems. You should regularly inspect your home’s foundation to look for defects. Start inside of the home and thoroughly inspect the inside walls and floor. You should look at all of the exterior walls of your home, not just those in the basement. If you notice any cracks that appear to be at a sharp angle and do not run along with the line of your exterior block or brick, the problem is likely located in your home’s foundation. Next, open and close all of the doors and windows in the home. A window that won’t open as a result of paint buildup does not signify a problem. If a window simply will not open, and the window is not damaged, this is a clear sign of a foundation issue. The same is true for your doors.

Always pay close attention to a concrete basement floor. A crack in your basement floor is bad for a number of reasons. Any cracks need to be identified and attention given to monitor the size and growth of the crack.

Next, inspect the outside of the home. Do not concentrate only on the lowest exposed part of the home, because often the most affected area will be above your head. Look up to where the foundation meets the brick, siding, etc. Do you see any stair-like cracks in the mortar? Do you see any vertical cracks that run straight through the block or brick? If so, you should contact someone to inspect your foundation before the problem gets worse. Left unattended, these problems will worsen and they can cause serious damage and require significant structural repairs. Caught early, many problems can be corrected without a tremendous expense.