Cracks in the foundation wall of your home are not just a cosmetic concern; they could be warning signs of underlying structural issues. Whether minor or serious, these cracks require prompt attention to prevent costly damage. It’s vital to conduct a thorough evaluation to determine if crack repair is needed.

Often, foundation wall cracks emerge within a few years of a house’s construction. However, various factors, such as invasive tree roots, can also contribute to their formation. Unfortunately, many homeowners overlook these cracks until they have developed significantly over time.

Ignoring a foundation crack, especially one discovered during a pre-purchase inspection, can escalate into a major problem. If you notice any such signs in your basement, it’s crucial to contact Crackmasters Basement Waterproofing Systems immediately to address the issue before it worsens.

Types of Cracks in the Foundation

Foundational cracks manifest in three primary forms: diagonal, horizontal, and vertical. It’s crucial to recognize and understand each type, as their causes and potential remedies can differ significantly.

Types of Cracks in the Foundation

Vertical Foundation Cracks

Vertical cracks, typically narrow, often result from standard shrinkage or minor settlement as the foundation adjusts over time. While these cracks might not initially pose a threat, it’s essential to monitor them. Wider vertical cracks, especially those exceeding 3mm in width, may indicate more significant settlement issues.

These cracks necessitate a comprehensive evaluation, potentially involving an engineering inspection, to determine the extent of the problem and the necessary corrective action.

Horizontal Foundation Cracks

Horizontal cracks present a more concerning sign than vertical ones, especially in block foundation walls. If not addressed promptly, these cracks can compromise the structural integrity of the foundation, leading to catastrophic failure. Other manifestations of this type of stress include cracking in brick walls and deteriorating mortar, which can also compromise structural stability.

Horizontal Foundation Cracks

The origin of these horizontal cracks often lies in external pressures. Factors such as poor drainage or improperly graded soil can cause water to accumulate around the foundation, saturating the ground. This accumulation can drastically increase hydrostatic pressure, combined with the soil’s inherent weight, exerting force on the foundation walls. If this force surpasses the wall’s capacity to bear it, it can result in shearing, bowing, or cracking.

Homes built on clay soils can experience intensified damage. Clay soils undergo significant expansion and contraction when exposed to water. The lateral pressure exerted by these soils can sometimes reach several tons per square foot, a force strong enough to cause severe damage if not mitigated.

Diagonal Foundation Cracks

Diagonal cracks usually appear at a 30-75 degree angle and might originate from the corners of windows or other openings. They commonly arise due to uneven settling of the foundation. While initially small, these cracks can widen and lengthen over time. Soil pressure on one side or thermal expansion from the sun’s heat on a particular section can also cause these types of cracks. Proper drainage and regular inspection can help in identifying and treating diagonal cracks before they become a more significant concern.

Identifying Foundation Wall Failures

Spotting early signs of foundation wall cracking or bowing can be challenging due to their subtle nature. However, being aware of certain warning signals can help in timely identification:

Foundation Wall Cracks

  • Cracks that are wider at the top than the bottom.
  • Foundation walls that aren’t level.
  • Visible cracks in drywalls, plaster, and other wall surfaces.
  • Cracks wide enough to fit a dime.

Malfunctioning Windows, Doors, and Cabinets

  • Windows, doors, and cabinets not closing properly.
  • With a deteriorating foundation, doors and windows become increasingly difficult to close or open.
  • Widening gaps can allow insects or rodents inside and result in the loss of conditioned air.

Uneven Floors

  • A definitive sign of damage is a floor that is no longer level.
  • Such floors may produce popping or cracking noises when walked upon.
  • As foundation cracks widen, floors might sag, becoming unsafe to stand on. Often, these floors need complete replacement.

Plumbing Issues

  • Cracked foundations can lead to plumbing problems.
  • As the damage progresses, pipes running beneath or through the foundation might break or sustain damage, risking basement flooding or sewage issues.

Bulging Foundation Walls

  • A noticeable bulge in the foundation walls, often resulting from area flooding, demands immediate attention.
  • Such a foundation is at risk of collapsing and requires immediate intervention by a foundation contractor.

Coin Test

  • An immediate sign of necessary repair is when a crack can accommodate a coin.
  • Various solutions exist for addressing bowed walls, including foundation anchors, reinforcement, and braces. These measures not only repair the wall but also enhance its strength, halt inward movement, and redistribute weight across the basement wall.

Repair Methods for Cracks in the Foundation

Repairing Foundation Cracks with Foundation Anchors

Various techniques exist to repair foundation wall cracks, but the most effective method involves installing foundation anchors. Unlike reinforcement and braces that only stabilize the foundation, foundation anchors also allow walls to straighten over time.

Foundation wall anchors offer an affordable solution to fix the foundation wall without disturbing or replacing the original foundation. You can complete this installation in just a day, any time of the year.

During the installation process, installers remove a small section of the lawn and excavate the area beneath. Next, they place a sturdy earth anchor in the dugout space. They then drive a steel rod through a small hole in the foundation wall, connecting it to the earth anchor in the yard. After attaching a wall plate to the steel rod inside the foundation wall, they tighten the wall.

Over time, periodic retightening helps return the wall to its original position. Once the installation finishes, they fill the hole and replace the removed lawn section. Only licensed professionals with experience should handle foundation anchor installations.

Foundation Piers

If your home shows signs of vertical or settling movement, foundation anchors won’t help. A settling foundation requires proper support underground, where the weight of the house strains the layers of earth. This situation points to a severe foundation problem. Professionals should handle these repairs exclusively.

Cracks in the foundation wall are more than just cosmetic flaws; they can be harbingers of underlying structural issues. Whether resulting from natural settling after construction, environmental factors, or more immediate threats like intrusive tree roots, it’s essential not to dismiss these signs. Over time, what might seem like an inconsequential fissure can escalate into a significant concern, potentially endangering the safety of the residence and resulting in hefty repair bills.

Your home is one of your most significant investments. Protect its structural integrity and ensure the safety of your loved ones. If you notice any cracks, don’t wait for the situation to escalate. Reach out to the experts at Crackmasters Basement Waterproofing Systems. Our dedicated team will provide a thorough assessment and offer solutions tailored to your home’s needs. Don’t leave things to chance; contact Crackmasters and safeguard your home’s future.

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