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Foundation Cracks - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Thursday, December 19th, 2019


cracks in the foundation

Cracks in the foundation, whether concrete block or brick, can be unsettling. You might get jittery and start asking yourself whether they are harmless or severe. Here's the thing. Not all foundation cracks are necessarily bad. In fact, most cracks are pretty normal and the good news is, they can be fixed.

Types of Foundation Cracks

As a homeowner, it is important for you to know the different types of cracks and what implications they have on your home, as well as the most appropriate fixes for them. The reason is that you can’t deal with cracks effectively if you don’t know what you’re up against. By knowing what kind of foundation cracks have occurred, you will take the guesswork out of your foundation repair.

Let’s look at five types of cracks and their solutions.

Vertical Foundation Cracks

Don’t worry a lot about these types of foundation cracks, as they’re a common sight in many homes and non-threatening. They’re usually caused by rains that exert pressure on the foundation or concrete tension in newly built homes (every two years or so). Vertical cracks tend to slant slightly (within 30 degrees). To seal them, water-resistant epoxy or polyurethane injection is applied to the cracks.

Once you fix the issues, you can protect your foundation from future cracks by clearing clogged gutters and using downspouts that extend 5 ft. away from the foundation walls. Strategic landscaping can also help if your house is located on a hill.

Horizontal Cracks

Cracks of this nature are a homeowner’s nightmare. Several types exist and all indicate serious structural problems. They often occur when the ground force strains the basement, causing it to bow inwards. Other causes include excessive backfilling, frost heave and the impact of heavy equipment. Whatever the cause, the result is a medium height horizontal crack.

Concrete and block basement foundations in Denver, CO, are prone to horizontal cracks. In case you notice small cracks that run horizontally on an unbowed foundation wall, monitor them and see if they will worsen. Get in touch with your basement repair contractor and find out how they will repair those cracks.

Diagonal Cracks

While not dangerous, these cracks should not be left unchecked. Cracks of this type are a sign of differential settlement (horizontal and vertical tension), which can cause serious structural problems in the home. They occur when sections of your home settle faster than others. Diagonal cracks are common phenomena is homes built on a hill or homes with rapidly deteriorating soil conditions because of drought or heavy rainfall.

Just like vertical cracks, these cracks are repaired the same ways as vertical cracks. The only difference is that it requires more material to stop future movement. In case you notice cracks that run diagonally at 30 to 75 degrees, ask your basement contractor to come and do an inspection and determine the location of the settlement. They’re like to recommend foundation piers to stabilize the foundation and minimize disturbance.

Stair-step Cracks

Of all the foundation cracks, the stair-step cracks are the most dangerous. They normally run in a diagonal line and assail concrete blocks and brick foundations. Cracks start in a joint or at the end of the wall then taper down or climb up. Like all diagonal cracks, they’re caused by differential settlement.

Basement Floor Hairline Cracks

Hairline cracks are a common feature in many Denver, CO, homes. Unlike the other cracks, they only affect the look of the home, unless they widen to ½ an inch or more. These cracks often start from offset corners (at 90 degrees), then spread out across the room. Before you fix them, it’s advisable for you to wait for at least one year. Afterward, you can fill them up with caulk or hydraulic cement.

Why Should I Fix Foundation Cracks

This is a no brainer. Cracks can grow and worsen over time, compounding your problems and making them costly to fix. Left unattended, cracks will also let in moisture to your basement. Moisture creates the perfect conditions for mold. Plus they welcome pests that can contaminate your food and water and spread diseases. Water damage is another possibility especially if your cracks are more than 1/16 inch wide. Dirty floodwater can soil your clothing and carpets and set the stage for mold in your home as well. Clean-up and remediation costs could run into thousands of dollars, money that would have otherwise been spent on improving your home if you had fixed the crack on time.

Are you concerned about what damage foundation cracks could do to your home? Call your local basement contractor and schedule a free inspection and estimate today! You’ll get a proper diagnosis of the problem at hand, as well as a lasting solution to the problem.