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How Serious is a Crack in the Foundation of a House?

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If you are wondering how serious the cracks in the foundation of your house are, the answer is that it depends on the cause of the cracks. Foundation cracks that arise from things like shrinkage during the concrete curing process or a small amount of uniform settlement after construction, usually aren’t anything to lose sleep over. However, foundation cracks can also be caused by serious structural issues. Those you do need to worry about. In this article, we’ll review common causes of foundation cracks, why not all cracks are cause for concern, common repair solutions, and more.

cracks in foundation
Learn the truth about foundation cracks in your home. The severity, causes, and when to seek professional repair. For homeowners seeking guidance and peace of mind.

Not All Foundation Cracks Are Cause For Alarm

Although it’s natural to worry about a crack in your house’s foundation, not all cracks are cause for alarm. Some foundation cracks are just unsightly and don’t affect the structural integrity of your home’s foundation. For example, it is typical for poured concrete foundations to exhibit cracks due to shrinkage during the concrete curing process. While these cracks could allow water to enter your basement or crawl space and for that reason should be sealed, they aren’t structural.

Foundation cracks can also result from a normal process known as foundation settlement. A small amount of uniform settlement after construction is pretty common and may cause a few cracks.Usually, these are nothing to worry about.

Any small hairline cracks, about one ⅛ of an inch or less, should not bother you. Also, if your foundation cracks don’t get longer or wider or allow water in, there is a decent chance that they are harmless. Still, as the next section will show, there are plenty of signs you should worry about a foundation crack.

Signs You Should Worry About A Foundation Crack

If you notice any of the following crack characteristics, you should begin your intervention to resolve them:

  • Increased crack width: If the crack in your wall is getting wider, you can assume it is related to structural damage.
  • Greater crack length: As was true regarding width, if you notice that the crack in your foundation wall becomes wider, it likely results from a structural problem.
  • Water leaking inside: Any time a crack in a foundation allows water to seep through, you should be worried. Look for visible signs of water, including dampness, mold and mildew growth, water damage, or the water itself.
  • Crack direction: Cracks that are horizontal, diagonal, or stair-step are problematic. They almost always indicate a serious foundation issue. While a single vertical hairline crack in a poured concrete foundation wall probably isn’t anything to worry about, a series of vertical cracks next to each other is a sign that something serious is going on.

Common Causes of Foundation Cracks and Repair Solutions

Typically, most serious structural cracks in a house’s foundation are caused by hydrostatic pressure or differential settlement.

Hydrostatic Pressure

Before you can understand how hydrostatic pressure affects the outside of your foundation, you need to know what this term means. Hydrostatic pressure refers to the force water places on the surfaces it contacts.

In simple words, hydrostatic pressure refers to the force that water places on the surfaces it touches. When the soil becomes saturated, hydrostatic pressure builds up and pushes against the walls.

When your foundation has a drainage issue, it often fails to convey water away from itself and towards a safe location. As this happens, the water accumulates near your foundation and causes hydrostatic pressure. Eventually, the pressure the water causes can result in deformations of your foundation wall. These deformations can take the form of significant cracking, bowing, or other issues with your foundation.

When your home experiences a buildup of extreme hydrostatic pressure, a foundation specialist can resolve the issue quickly. To achieve this goal, they will often excavate around your home, resolve the hydrostatic pressure, and make improvements to your drainage system.

Differential Settlement

As we mentioned earlier, a small amount of uniform settlement is normal after construction. However, if your foundation undergoes differential settlement, that is concerning. Differential settlement occurs when your foundation experiences uneven shifts, which can sometimes be significant. When these uneven shifts occur, your foundation will likely crack.

Differential settlement involves uneven shifts. These shifts result in many issues throughout your home. In many cases, the first sign will be cracking in your foundation or throughout the drywall on different levels of your home.

Foundation teams repair differential settlement issues by installing piers. These piers come in two primary forms: push and helical. Both stabilize the foundation and prevent further settlement.

Your foundation team will insert the piers deep into the earth until they reach firm strata. Once that connection is in place, the team will attach the piers to your foundation. Through this connection, the repair team can raise and level your foundation as much as possible without causing damage.

Next Steps When You Worry About Foundation Damage

When you discover a crack in your foundation, it may be tempting to resolve the issue using a DIY approach. However, we cannot recommend this method. Attempting to repair a foundation independently can be unsuccessful and dangerous if you lack experience. Instead, the best approach is to hire a foundation professional to inspect your home’s foundation. The right team will quickly diagnose any problem you have and match you to the ideal solution. An experienced foundation team will also complete the job correctly and safely on the first try.

Find the Right Foundation Expert for Your House

Any crack that causes you to worry should prompt you to contact a foundation specialist in your area. For anyone living in Charlotte or the surrounding areas, HydroHelp911 is the best team you can call. We have extensive experience evaluating foundations and providing various construction services. Get in touch with us today to learn more about what we offer.

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