Cracks seen in the foundation walls can be either of minimal significance or can turn out to be a worrisome structural defect. If it is the latter, then it can turn out to be very expensive to rectify. A thorough evaluation is very much needed to find out if any crack repair work is required or not.
Foundation wall cracks generally occur within a few years post the construction of the house. However, there can be exceptions, like the presence of tree roots. Many owners do not note the cracks until a number of years have gone by after the initial formation. A foundation crack can turn out to be an important issue if it was discovered prior to an inspection made for the sole purpose of purchase. If you notice any cracks in your basement, don't wait until the problem escalates, call Crackmasters Today.
Type of cracks
Cracks are usually considered to be diagonal, horizontal or vertical. However, most of the cracked foundation walls display all the three categories. The vertical and narrow cracks develop frequently due to normal shrinkage or minor settlement. The wide and vertical cracks which exceeds 3mm in their width could be caused due to major settlement problems which may need comprehensive evaluation and engineering inspection.
Compared to vertical cracks, horizontal cracks are of much bigger concern. This is specially true in case of block foundation walls.
These cracks, if not looked into, may lead to the complete failure of the foundation walls. Cracking can also affect brick walls. Crumbling mortar is also another danger factor in this type of crack.
The grading of soil along with poor drainage surrounding a structure may result in the water to slowly drain away. The ground surrounding foundation walls will be saturated with this water. This will elevate the water or hydrostatic pressure. As combined force of the soils' natural weight and hydrostatic pressure surrounding the foundation crushes down, it may exceed the walls' pre-determined capacity of bearing the weight, thus resulting in shear, crack or bow.
When a home is constructed with clay soil which, when in touch with water, undergoes noticeable expansion and contraction, the soil may do a lot more damage. Lateral pressure against such walls could be a staggering few tons for every square foot.
How to spot the failure of a foundation wall
It can be very difficult to spot the cracking or bowing of the foundation walls in the early stages. This is because the visual difference could be very marginal. However, there are a number of red flags which you can be cognizant of, like:
- The foundation cracks are usually broader at the top than bottom
- Foundation walls are of unequal level
- Windows, doors and cabinets are not shutting as they should be
- Cracking appears in drywalls, plaster and walls
- A dime can be placed in the wall crack
One of the surest damage signs is a floor that is not even. Such floors will make popping or cracking sounds when someone walks over them. With the widening of the crack in the foundation, the floor is likely to sag and it will become very dangerous to stand on that surface. In most cases of foundation damage, the floors have to be replaced completely.
The list of other signs include windows and doors. They will not close or open as smoothly as first when they did before. With the worsening of the cracked foundation, the doors and windows will be very difficult to close or open. The widening gaps will enable insects or rodents to enter your home. Air-conditioned air will escape through such openings.
Problems with plumbing may also occur due to a cracked foundation. With increased decay, the pipes which run under and through the house foundation may break or get damaged. The basement could suffer water flooding or sewage.
If there is a bulge in the foundation walls, caused due to the flooding of the area, it is imperative that you call a foundation contractor and do the foundation repair as soon as possible. The foundation could collapse any time. Another sign of immediate repair is when you can fit a coin into the crack. A number of solutions are available when it comes to fixing the bowed walls, like foundation anchors, reinforcement and braces which can repair the wall. It adds strength to the wall, and stops the inward improvement. It also redistributes weight on the basement wall.
The foundation anchors
There are a number of techniques by which a foundation wall can be repaired. The best method so far is to install the foundation anchors. Compared to reinforcement and the braces which simply stabilize the foundation, the foundation anchors will also provide the opportunity to straighten up the walls over a period of time.
The foundation wall anchors offer a cost-efficient technique for repairing the foundation wall. This can be done without replacing or disrupting the original foundation. It is possible to complete this installation in one day and such installation could be done round the year.
During installation, a tiny area of the lawn is taken away, and the space beneath it is dug out. After that, a robust earth anchor is positioned in the hole. A rod made of steel is pushed through a small hole in the foundation wall and it is pushed so that it is fixed to the earth anchor located within the yard. Subsequently a wall plate is tightened and attached to a steel rod inside the foundation wall and the wall is then tightened. A periodic retightening over time will pull that specific wall to the original position. When the installation is completed, that hole is filled and the portion of the lawn which was removed is returned. Only an experienced and licensed professional must work with the foundation anchors.
If your residence is suffering from vertical or settling movement, then foundation anchors are not a solution. The settling foundation will need adequate support under the ground, where the house' weight is buckling the strata. This can be an extremely serious foundation issue. Such repairs must be done exclusively by professionals.