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When Should You Be Concerned About Cracks in Your Home’s Foundation?

Foundation cracks are inevitable and you may have seen at least one in the foundation of your home.  Some cracks are harmless and are not anything to be concerned about while some are significant and may indicate structural concerns.  So how do you know what to look for and which ones require action on your part?  See below for some helpful identifiers.

Settlement Cracks

Settlement cracks in concrete foundation walls are common in household basements.  They usually happen in the first year after construction as a result of the settling of the foundation’s footing.  The cracks typically run vertically or somewhat diagonally and are often wider at the top.  As a rule, concrete inevitably cracks at some point due to the materials it is made of.

When settlement cracks are a concern:

There are several things to look for in the cracks in your foundation walls to indicate an inspection and even mitigation may be necessary.

  • If the settlement crack on your foundation wall is wider than a quarter inch.
  • If the crack runs diagonally across a majority portion of a wall.
  • If the crack runs horizontally.

Any of the above symptoms indicate a possible foundation failure and/or significant structural movement.  Next steps to take would be to have an inspection of the foundation completed.  It may also be necessary to have a structural engineer involved to advise on what needs to be done to solve the problem.  Bear in mind, if your home is less than 10 years old the structure may still be under warranty by the builder.

Shrinkage Cracks

Another type of crack you might see on your foundation walls is a shrinkage crack.  This type of crack is a result of the curing process of poured concrete in which shrinkage occurs.  This is natural and such cracks do not present any structural concerns.  You’ll observe them on the foundation wall as a hairline crack, typically 1/8 inch or less in width.  The only concern with a shrinkage crack is that it may let moisture in.  This can be mitigated by injecting poly-urethane or epoxy into the crack.  This will seal it and not allow moisture to come through.  Contact a local contractor for a quote on getting this type of crack repaired.


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