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Cracks in interior basement wall

Foundation Cracks –Understanding Good & Bad Foundation Cracks

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Cracks wall

Cracks in the foundation could be a sign of a cosmetic issue or a serious structural problem beneath your home. Depending on their size and extent, you could get water seepage during heavy downpours or unwelcome visitors in the form of crawling insects and pests. If you have cracks, instead of buying into foundation repair myths, it’s good to have a foundation repair professional carry out an inspection so you can know what you’re dealing with. You’ll also get to know if there are other foundation problems that need urgent attention.

Common Types of Foundation Cracks

Block wall with cracking

Vertical cracks: Cracks of these types run straight up and down the foundation within some degrees of the vertical. When they occur, they don’t indicate something is wrong with the home. Common causes are concrete curing. As concrete hardens, they buckle under tension. Many homes will develop these cracks within two to three years after construction. Fixing them is as simple as injecting epoxy, which seals the cracks and stops water from seeping through.

Diagonal cracks: These result from stress build-up following differential settling. Causal factors include a change in soil conditions or waterlogged soil after a downpour. Usually, cracks emanate from the corner of windows and other openings and run at an angle from 30 degrees to 75 degrees on the wall. One end of the crack (where settling will occur) tends to be wider than the other end because the foundation is moving in two directions. Cracks can affect old and new Cleveland, OH, homes. Diagonal reinforcement can reduce the occurrence of these cracks and prevent existing cracks from widening.

Horizontal cracks: Of all cracks, these are the most severe. You’ll likely see them in poured concrete foundations as well as concrete or brick foundations. When they occur, it’s because of excess pressure on the foundation wall, which causes bowing. Improper backfilling and hydrostatic pressure immediately after heavy rains are the major culprits. Bowing foundations are dangerous and can cause structural failure. To fix the problem, your contractor may carry out extensive foundation repairs. This may include installing reinforcing posts in the basement, burying anchors to pull back and out the foundation wall, and installing high-strength strapping to prevent further bowing.

I Have Noticed Step Cracks – Should I Worry?

These cracks don’t affect the foundation, but the exterior wall right above it. It’s a problem that occurs in houses with brick or concrete block exteriors. They’re usually caused by differential settling, and as such, should be treated in the same way as diagonal cracks. If cracks appear on mortar joints only, they shouldn’t worry you. But if you notice that blocks or bricks have moved out of place or the crack extends through the blocks, that’s something you should take seriously.

Is It Normal for Concrete to Crack?

Yes, that’s pretty much normal. In fact, anyone with a concrete foundation in Cleveland, OH, should expect them to crack. It’s a question of when, not if. When completely dry, concrete will shrink by 1/16 inch for every 10ft.

Cracking is caused by the following factors:

  • Thermal contraction
  • Drying shrinkage
  • Subgrade settlement
  • Applied loads (prevalent)
  • Hydrostatic pressure
  • Heavy equipment usage close by

While you can’t prevent cracking, you can reduce or control it, so it doesn’t affect the structural integrity of the home. One effective way is to create construction joints to accommodate the shrinkage. Horizontal reinforcement steel can also help reduce the manifestation of cracks and prevent existing cracks from widening.

If you notice any crack that’s wider than 1/8th of an inch, you should seal it with caulk filing. Cracks typically occur when a house settles or concrete shrinks just a few months after construction. The good news is that they don’t pose immediate structural problems. While that’s the case, it is good to have them sealed. It’s the only way you’re going to keep moisture and musty odors as well as radon gas away from your home.

How Do I Fix Foundation Cracks?

Narrow cracks can be fixed quickly using epoxy injection, which seals them and locks out water. If it’s a structural crack you’re dealing with, your contractor may apply a number of solutions, such as wall anchors, push piers, slab piers, and carbon fiber reinforcement. Where necessary, concrete lifting may be done. Never attempt a DIY. You could be applying the wrong solution to a crack. First, let a foundation repair professional inspect the crack and recommend the right solution.

Is your foundation cracking? Not sure whether it’s a structural crack or a minor cosmetic issue? Contact your trusted basement contractor to schedule a free foundation inspection as soon as possible.

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