Are Foundation Cracks a Sign of Serious Problems?May 17, 2022 Baird Foundation Repair
Foundation cracks are frequently easy to notice in a home, but they may not be as easy to understand. Not all foundation cracks are the same, so it’s important to know the difference between which ones are normal and which ones are symptoms of a bad foundation.
Our team at Baird Foundation Repair wants you to learn more about foundation cracks and what each might mean for your home!
What are Foundation Cracks?
Every structure or home is supported by a foundation. They balance out the weight of the materials and keep the soil surrounding the building in place. Foundation cracks, as the name implies, are cracks in the foundation of a building structure that develops over time. They can be found in a variety of locations, including:
- Walls (often around windows, doors, or corners)
- Brick exterior (in-between mortar joints)
- Floor (in the form of uneven flooring)
- Ceilings (especially attics)
Given the various locations where a crack might form, the causes behind every crack vary. That also means that not all foundation cracks are the same. Some are normal and are not a cause for concern, while others are dangerous and require immediate attention.
How Common Are Foundation Cracks?
Foundation cracks are one of the most common types of foundation issues. It might seem like foundation cracks are problems that plague mainly old homes, but they can form in old and new homes.
Smaller foundation cracks are usually cosmetic, which means they are more of an aesthetic concern that can be cheaply repaired. Things become more challenging as the cracks grow larger. These cracks, which can span several feet, are among the most expensive to repair.
Sometimes, small cracks are precursors to big cracks. This is why it’s important to have a reliable foundation repair expert analyze the severity of the crack you discover. That way, you’ll know for sure whether they’re safe to ignore, saving you the headache and financial hardship later on.
What Cause Foundation Cracks?
The causes of a crack vary greatly across the board and they’re usually difficult to identify without professional help. However, it never hurts to become acquainted with the various causes to take some guesswork out of the foundation repair process.
Here are the most common causes behind a crack in a home’s foundation:
If the weather in your location fluctuates between extreme highs and extreme lows, it’s possible that your foundation cracks are the result of this free-thaw cycle.
Simply put, the ground begins to thaw once the cold weather has passed. This means that your foundation will move with the soil. But now that there is more room, your foundation will not be able to return to its original position, leading to cracks over time.
The type of soil your house was built on plays an important role in foundation longevity. For example, clay soil tends to expand, which can cause your foundation to move upwards. Peat, on the other hand, is much drier, meaning it moves away from your foundation once it dries.
Contractors normally try to avoid building on these sorts of soils, but unfortunately, some homes slip through the cracks.
While your gutters may be easy to overlook, it’s important that they remain clean year-round to avoid foundation issues. The buildup of leaves and other debris can cause water to overflow near your foundation, which can weaken your interior and exterior stability over time.
Plumbing leaks aren’t just an inconvenience, but can also lead to major foundation damage if ignored. Similar to gutters, the water buildup beneath your home or within your walls can cause the foundation to sink or expand. Make sure to have your plumbing system checked annually to avoid sudden issues that can turn major down the line.
Types of Foundation Cracks
The severity of the crack depends on the type of crack that has developed. Here’s a list of the most common types of foundation cracks, along with information on what you might be up against:
The most common (and least serious) cracks are vertical. These are normally caused by heavy rains or concrete shrinkage. Vertical cracks are often only around 1/8th of an inch and are sealed using epoxy or urethane.
While these types of cracks are not the most threatening, it’s not impossible for them to grow. Make sure to have these cracks checked by a foundation expert so they can confirm the severity.
Diagonal cracks are also common and are likely due to one side of your home settling more than the other. These are normally caused by differential settling (like being built on a hill) or soil contraction.
Diagonal cracks tend to appear as thin as a hairline but will widen at the opposite end. The solution can be relatively simple, but it depends on what is causing the two sides to be different.
The last and most dangerous type of crack is a horizontal crack. The most common cause for this type is unbalanced soil pressure. If you notice these cracks in your home, it’s important you act quickly and contact a foundation expert.
Horizontal cracks mean the structure of your home has been significantly compromised, which could be dangerous for you and your family.
Contact Baird Foundation Repair!
Identifying the type of foundation crack you’re dealing with can be challenging, but thankfully, is not an issue you have to face alone. Baird Foundation Repair is ready to assist you in determining the severity of your foundation crack and developing a plan of action.
We believe that all foundation cracks should be treated carefully, thus we tackle all foundation cracks with quality care and with the goal of bringing you peace of mind!