What's Crack-A- Lackin?
Discovering a crack in the foundation of your home can be unsettling. This could represent extensive damage to your home’s foundation, which could mean costly repairs. However, some cracks should be more cause for concern than others. Oftentimes looking at the crack can tell you a lot about the damage to your foundation including what may have caused it and how serious the problem is. To get a better understanding of damage, here is a quick overview of some different types of foundation cracks.
Vertical cracks are generally the most common and oftentimes, the least severe type of crack you will come across. They go straight up and down, or maybe on a slight diagonal of vertical, and are a common occurrence in many houses. These types of cracks are usually the result of your foundation settling, and is not uncommon even for new houses. Fortunately, this type of crack is usually the easiest and least expensive to have sealed. Generally, a urethane or epoxy material will be injected into the crack, ensuring that it is sealed and does reopen or grow as your foundation continues to settle.
Another common type of crack that you may encounter is a diagonal crack that runs along your foundation. This type of crack may be a thin hairline crack, but will likely be wider at one end than the other. Diagonal foundation cracks are caused by differential settling of a foundation. This can be the result of the house being built on a hill, or due to the expansion or contraction of the soil under the home. This can be more costly to repair than a vertical crack since it may be necessary to address the cause of the differential settlement after the crack is sealed. The solution however, may be as simple as installing new gutters so that rainwater directs away from a section of your properly that regularly becomes flooded, as this water could be causing the soil under a portion of your foundation to shift.
Horizontal foundation cracks are the most serious type. They can be a sign of serious damage to your home’s foundation and structural integrity. While these cracks are sometimes seen in homes with poured concrete foundations, they are most common in homes with concrete block or brick foundations. Several things can cause this type of foundation damage including soil pressure outside of your foundation, and hydrostatic pressure that can cause your basement walls to bow. If you discover this type of foundation damage it is important that you have it repaired as soon as possible. This type of cracking will require the most extensive repairs, which will likely include reinforcing your foundation in order to secure it and prevent further damage.
A thorough Home Inspection should report foundation cracks. The home inspector is a generalist and may not note the severity of cracks, rather direct you to the proper specialist. Knowing what types of cracks you may discover in your home can help you to determine the severity of the damage to your foundation. Ultimately, however, any cracks you discover in your home’s foundation should be taken seriously and professionally inspected and repaired so that you can ensure the structural integrity of your home. If there are cracks noted on your Home Inspection Report which cause you concern, contacting a structural engineer is always advised.