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Types of Foundation Cracks and What They Mean

Your home’s foundation is critical to the overall integrity of your home. It’s what holds everything else up. So it can be disconcerting, to say the least, to discover one or more cracks in your foundation, walls, or floor. But should you panic if you do?

No. Don’t panic, but do take steps to figure out what the problem is. As foundation repair and basement waterproofing specialists, Value Dry Waterproofing can help. We think an educated homeowner makes the best decisions, so today we’re going to look at types of foundation cracks and what they mean.

But first, let’s look at what causes foundation cracks.

Causes of Foundation Cracks

There are several common causes of foundation leaks. As you will see, most cracks are caused by soil saturation in and around your home’s block of concrete foundation. Some causes of foundation cracks include:

  • Hydrostatic Pressure. When soil is saturated near your home after heavy rains or snow melt, the water causes pressure to build up on the exterior of your foundation walls. This can cause the water to seek an outlet by seeping into your basement through the foundation.
  • Drainage Issues. If water is allowed to collect near the foundation exterior, it can soak into the concrete slab or cinder block walls causing foundation pressure and seeping into your foundation.
  • Plumbing Leaks. When a pipe is leaking, or the sewer line is leaking near a foundation wall, this water can seep into or accumulate under your foundation.
  • Freeze/Thaw. Water next to, inside, or under your foundation, combine with extreme cold, can cause the soil next to your foundation to expand and contract causing cracks and shifting in the foundation.
  • Earthquakes. While relatively rare in the Mid-Atlantic, earthquakes do happen, and can crack your foundation. New cracks caused by earthquakes combined with water infiltration can create a problem.

When saturated soil and water seepage is causing your foundation cracks, you should have a  basement waterproofing system installed to help manage the water entering your foundation. This helps alleviate  the source of the problem before fixing the crack or cracks themselves. If you don’t work to manage the water next to your foundation, the cracks can proliferate and get worse. The longer you wait and the more your foundation moves, the more expensive it becomes to fix. Don’t hesitate to act if you think there is an issue and seek professional help.

Vertical Foundation Cracks

Large vertical cracks are bad news. They are typically due to soil settlement, and can grow longer and wider. Vertical foundation cracks will let in water (and potentially pests) if you don’t get them repaired.

Horizontal Foundation Cracks

Horizontal cracks are an indication of serious pressure from the saturated soil outside. Walls with horizontal cracks can eventually bow and collapse. Horizontal foundation cracks that show bowing in the foundation wall require immediate repair.

Stair Step Cracks

If you have concrete block or cinder block foundation walls, you may see stair step cracks. This cracking is again due to pressure from saturated soil, and the cracks occur along the mortar joints between the individual blocks. These cracks need to be repaired to stabilize the foundation and keep it from getting worse.

Hairline Cracks

Hairline cracks in your foundation walls or concrete floor are usually nothing to worry about. These cracks may have formed days after your foundation was poured. They are narrow – too small to insert your fingernail. These are usually due to shrinkage of concrete or mortar. Shrinkage cracks don’t change in size, and don’t affect the integrity of your foundation. You do want to monitor these cracks whenever possible to ensure they are not getting larger, which would indicate movement in the foundation.

Schedule an Inspection

The first step in addressing foundation cracks is for our foundation repair experts to perform an inspection at your home or business. Then we can tell you exactly what we need to do to restore and maintain the value of your property. Time is of the essence so that less invasive solutions can be utilized if the cracks are addressed before serious shifting of the foundation walls occurs. We will work to provide you with a safe and dry foundation, and offer you greater peace of mind. Just call us at (888) 768-2583 or fill out the contact form and our team will contact you to schedule a free inspection.

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