One of the major concerns for homeowners and homebuyers is finding cracks in their home’s foundation. Whether small cosmetic cracks or wide cracks, foundation cracks usually mean one thing. Water seepage into your home during the wet spring months or when the snow melts. But they can also be an indication of serious and hazardous structural issues.
Your home’s foundation supports the entire load and structure above. When the foundation cracks or crumbles, your home is affected. It’s critical for you to know what causes foundation cracks and how best to fix them.
When Are Foundation Cracks Serious?
You’ve walked around your home and spotted cracks. But how do you know whether they’re normal (cosmetic type) or serious cracks? Four things can help you determine whether the cracks are serious to warrant professional foundation repair in Cleveland, OH.
Depth: Cracks that appear on your home’s interior and the exterior foundation go deep and pose serious risks to your foundation’s health.
Number: The more foundation cracks you have, the weaker the underlying support structure may be.
Size: Wider cracks are a sign of dramatic foundation shift or settlement.
Location: Vertical cracks and stair-step cracks that form in the southern corners of your house typically indicate a foundation shift
Why Are Foundation Cracks Appearing?
That’s a common question and one that’s likely to pop up in your mind when you spot cracks. The cause could be anything from settlement to seasonal changes affecting the soil. If you notice cracks, any of these could be the culprit.
Tree roots. Summer weather means less water and moisture for trees around your home. As a result, their roots will spread toward your home’s foundation where the soil is likely to be moist. When they get there, they will draw out moisture and leave the soil dry.
Soil settlement. Differential settlement is another reason cracks might be appearing on your foundation. It often results in sloping doors, sticking doors, and sagging roofs.
Expansive soils. Clayey soils contain minerals that absorb water and expand in wet conditions and lose water and contract in dry weather. Expansion can lead to heaving while contraction can lead to a settlement and ultimately foundation cracks.
Poor Drainage. Exterior home drainage also impacts the foundation’s health. If the yard is poorly graded or has no exterior drains, water will pool around the foundation and cause cracks and water damage.
Plumbing leaks. When water lines or sewer lines get ruptured, they release small amounts of water into the soil. The moisture gets into the soil around the foundation leading to cracks over time.
Poor soil compaction. Your foundation may drop or crumble under the weight of the house if the soil was badly compacted before building the footings.
Engineering faults. Not sizing the foundation properly for the type of soil in your area and the load of your home means the foundation will eventually crack.
Frost uplift or heaving. When the ground freezes in cold winter weather, the soil layers below the foundation expands and pushes the foundation up. The upheaval almost always leads to cracks.
Geologic hazards. Expansive soil isn’t the only hazard that can damage your foundation. Earthquakes can shake the ground and destabilize the soil stratum on which your foundation rests.
Foundation Repair Solutions
Simple cosmetic cracks may just need to be fixed using epoxy or hydraulic cement. Both materials weld the seams together and prevent water infiltration and further cracking. Serious cracks will require professional intervention. Your local contractor may recommend foundation repair measures including helical piers, slab piers, push piers, and wall bracing, amongst other solutions. What these solutions do is permanently stabilize the foundation and can help return it to its original position.
If you’re unsure of what’s brewing in the foundation or just need a trained eye to inspect the foundation and confirm your suspicions, contact Ohio Basement Systems for a free foundation inspection and repair quote. Our experienced professionals have been assessing homes with cracks and helping homeowners resolve underlying issues threatening the health and dryness of their basements and foundations for many years.