Can you spot cracks in your home’s foundation?
This shouldn’t be a major concern if your house is a year old. Cracks in newly constructed homes are not unusual, especially near windows, corners of the floor and walls, and in the long section of your foundation. These are primarily due to foundation settling – a minimal event wherein the weight of the new home settles into a newly excavated site.
But what if the cracks are increasing in size? Whether your house is older or new, you must know how to determine a foundation crack that is a cause of concern. Here are the most common types that you should watch out for:
Horizontal Foundation Cracks
These are often serious foundation cracks arising from unbalanced hydrostatic water and soil pressure pressing against the foundation wall. Water is the primary culprit in foundation cracks. It causes the soil underneath a home to move, leading to bowed walls, cracks, and other foundation issues.
In addition, rainfall or snowmelt can expand the ground, exert pressure on the basement wall, and force inward. The lack of proper drainage around a home may cause some soil areas to swell more than others, which may also put pressure on foundation walls.
Vertical and Diagonal Cracks
Vertical and diagonal cracks are less severe problems than the horizontal cracks and shouldn’t alarm homeowners. You may notice them running straight up and down your foundation walls. They result from foundation settling over time or a part of the natural concrete curing process. A common fix for these problems is an epoxy or polyurethane crack injection.
However, if you find vertical cracks close to a corner, which is wider than ⅛ of an inch, call professionals for an inspection.
These are common cracks in newly constructed buildings that usually appear within one year. They appear as a part of settling and drying of the new foundation and are often cosmetic. If you just purchased your home and find hairline cracks, contact your home builders because these may cover your warranty.
Foundation Slab Cracks
Poured concrete slabs are prone to cracks over time. You must understand why these cracks occur to determine if they are a serious problem or not. Generally, if the cracks are bigger than a hairline, calling foundation experts to provide professional advice and options is always the best thing to do.
The three common reasons for these cracks include:
- Slab settlement. If your house is new and develops settlement issues, it may be a result of poor workmanship. The supporting ground may not be compacted, or the soil has poor conditions. Call professionals for an inspection immediately.
- Concrete pouring. These are normal cracks often because of drying, settling, and curing the concrete slab, which shouldn’t worry homeowners.
- Frost Heave. This is an upward swelling of soil because of the formation of ice during freezing conditions.
Non-Structural Foundation Cracks
While these don’t pose a threat to your home’s structure, they can result in water seeping into your basement. If left unrepaired, it can get worse and cause water damage to your floors and walls. On top of these, they contribute to the mold formation in your basement that can spread into your entire home and damage belongings, and harm your family’s health.
Remember that it only takes 48 hours for mold spores to form. Though you can use homemade solutions to eliminate molds, such as vinegar and water solution, wider moldy areas require the expertise of mold remediation professionals, like PuroClean.
Similar to hairline cracks, they develop when poured concrete foundations begin to dry out and lose moisture. These should not affect your foundation, but if you live in a place with high levels of Radon gas, it can leak into your basement. Though it’s not usually harmful in minimal amounts, it can become toxic if you breathe in a considerable amount over time.
You may want to call your physician if you experience the following symptoms:
- Persistent cough
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis
Stair Step Cracks
Similar to diagonal cracks, they appear due to the differential settling of your foundation. If you only see them in the mortar joints between the block or brick, they’re not serious and can be repaired by reapplying the mortar. However, if the cracks displace the blocks or they extend through the blocks, call an expert to identify the severity of the problem and recommend corrective measures.