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When To Start Worrying About Foundation Cracks

Big foundation cracks should be fixed

Becoming a homeowner is a huge milestone, and having a place to call your own comes with a great feeling of pride. However, it also comes with heavy responsibilities.

Noticing cracks within the foundation of your home or basement is likely to cause you stress. Though it’s important to be aware of any noticeable cracks, it isn’t always necessary to jump to the worst conclusion right away.

So when exactly is it appropriate to start taking cracks seriously? Jim Lucas owner of Crackmasters Basement Waterproofing says, “If a foundation crack can fit your credit card, call an expert.”

At Crackmasters, we often get asked by homeowners about different types of cracks and what they mean. We’ve put together a list of a few specific types of cracks you can look out for that will help you identify the harmless ones from the damaging ones that require immediate professional repair.

Hairline Cracks

Concrete floors in your garage or basement may develop hairline cracks from time to time. These are usually not something to be concerned about, though we recommend monitoring closely for any changes.

According to Popular Mechanics, “A crack doesn't have to create structural troubles for it to be a problem. Cracks are ugly, suspicious things that aren't easy to fix, and even one that's no more than a hairline could grow and create all kinds of difficulties.”

foundation wall hairline crack

One way to determine if the crack is getting bigger over time is to take a photo of the crack with a ruler placed over it. Make sure the ruler is in millimetres so you can measure it accurately and take the photo from the same angle.

Stair-Step Cracks

Unlike hairline cracks, stair-step cracks are a bigger cause for concern. They can be seen through brick walls or through the mortar joints. Here are a few ways you can tell if the problem is escalating:

  • Bulging wall
  • Cracks becoming greater than a quarter of an inch
  • Separation around windows and doors
  • Brick pulling away from the window frame

Stair step foundation cracks

If you come across gaps between your bricks and windows or doors, this can be a sign that your foundation is shifting and requires professional assistance.

If the Stair-Step crack is located along your garage this is a much smaller problem than if the crack is located across the rest of the house. However in either case it’s worth getting it inspected.

Vertical Wall Cracks

Vertical cracks are extremely common, both in older homes and newly constructed ones. Though they hardly ever cause a harsh structural problem, if a vertical wall crack reaches the full length of your foundation wall it can become a portal for water entry.

If you notice cracks that uniform in width, they can be referred to as vertical wall cracks.

Vertical Wall Cracks

Horizontal Wall Cracks

The good news is that in many cases, only large cracks indicate signs of structural trouble. The bad news is horizontal wall cracks can likely lead to that.

Horizontal cracks throughout your basement wall are known to be the most serious. These cracks tend to be more severe as they can cause your walls to bow inward due to hydrostatic pressure.

If you notice horizontal wall cracks, please call a professional immediately so we can evaluate your home.

Stair-Step Cracks

Though wall shrinkage cracks generally appear horizontally, they can also form in a V-shape. As V-shape cracks travel vertically across your wall, they tend to be wider towards to the top and get smaller as they continue.

Wall shrinkage cracks can appear in:

  • Bulging wall
  • Cracks becoming greater than a quarter of an inch
  • Separation around windows and doors
  • Brick pulling away from the window frame

Wall shrinkage cracksk

In terms of being repaired, shrinkage cracks can be sealed. This will help prevent any type of additional chipping or water entry. This is typically done with:

  • Polyurethane Foam
  • Epoxy
  • Masonry Patching Compound
  • Other sealants

Thankfully, shrinkage cracks don’t usually require any structural monitoring in brick or poured concrete walls. However, if any of bond courses seem to be broken, you should take caution as this could lead to a wall collapse. If this is something you have noticed, we recommend reaching out to a professional immediately.

Need Professionals?

Fixing foundation cracks is no DIY project. The job requires precision and expertise in order to be carried out effectively. Here at Crackmasters Basement Waterproofing, our team has over 10 years of professional experience with state of the art basement waterproofing and foundation crack repair systems.

To top it off, all of our foundation repair services are completely backed up by a lifetime guarantee. For a free estimate and inspection, contact us today.

foundation-crack-repair-6

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