Keeping your home maintained and in good condition is an important responsibility. Unfortunately, there are times when cracks can appear in your home’s foundation walls. Cracks in your foundation walls can be a significant cause for concern; they could indicate serious structural damage or be a common sign of settling.
Understanding the difference is crucial; fortunately, there are ways to recognize the signs and repair cracked basement walls. This blog post will dive into everything you need about foundation wall cracks.
What Are Foundation Wall Cracks?
Foundation wall cracks are an unwelcome sight in any home; these cracks can indicate settling, heaving, or structural damage. Foundation wall cracks are breaks or fractures in the concrete or blocks used to construct your foundation. They can be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. If you’re selling your home, flipping a potential rental property, or buying a new home, foundation wall cracks can present a problem.
Types of Foundation Wall Cracks
A few common types of foundation wall cracks may appear in your home.
Horizontal cracks are often the most serious type of foundation wall crack. They indicate significant soil and water pressure against the foundation wall, which can lead to bowing and potentially severe structural damage.
Vertical cracks are usually less concerning and often result from the house settling over time. However, it’s worth seeking professional advice if they continue to widen over time.
Diagonal cracks typically suggest differential settling, which means different parts of the foundation have settled at different rates. This can occur due to changes in soil conditions around the foundation.
How Serious Are They?
The seriousness of a foundation wall crack depends on its size, location, and direction. While anyone can repair minor cracks, larger ones may require more extensive solutions, such as underpinning or piercing. If you’re unsure about the seriousness of a crack, it’s best to get professional advice.
When Should You Be Concerned?
Most of us have procrastinated at some point in our lives. But when it comes to foundation wall cracks, there are other options than procrastination. If you notice a crack in your foundation wall, taking action as soon as possible is vital. If you’re unsure of what to look out for, observe your foundation for these telltale warning signs:
- Wide Cracks: A professional should evaluate any crack wider than 1/8 inch.
- Efflorescence: White or yellowish staining around the crack may indicate excessive moisture. It’s caused by water evaporating through the crack and carrying minerals, leaving behind a white residue.
- Horizontal Cracks: These are typically more serious and may indicate structural damage.
- Water Leakage: If water is seeping through the crack, it can lead to further damage.
- Noticeable Odors: A musty or earthy smell indicates a more serious problem.
- Bulging Walls: If the wall is bowing or bulging near the crack, it’s a sign of serious pressure.
- Mold: If you notice any mold growing near the crack, it could be a sign of water damage. It’s essential to address any mold in your basement immediately, regardless of color. Mold can cause health problems and indicates that water enters your basement.
Procrastination can be a significant problem when it comes to foundation wall cracks. The sooner you take action, the better your chances of avoiding costly repairs due to these warning signs. It depends on your situation, but there could be any number of causes for the crack, from changing temperature and moisture levels to drainage or soil problems. Let’s cover the causes of foundation wall cracks in more detail.
What Causes Foundational Wall Cracks
Several reasons can cause foundation wall cracks, often related to pressure and soil conditions around the foundation. Here are some common causes:
- Foundation Settlement: Over time, the soil beneath your house settles, which can cause your foundation to move and lead to cracks.
- Hydrostatic Pressure: This occurs when there’s excessive moisture in the soil around your foundation. The water pressure can push against your foundation walls, leading to cracks.
- Soil Shrinkage: In dry conditions, soil can shrink away from your foundation, causing it to move and possibly crack.
- Soil Expansion: Certain types of soil, like clay, expand when they’re wet and shrink when they’re dry. This constant expansion and contraction can stress your foundation and cause cracks.
- Poor Construction: If the foundation is not constructed correctly, it might not be strong enough to withstand the pressures exerted on it, leading to cracks.
- Natural Disasters: Events like earthquakes or floods can put sudden, extreme pressure on your foundation, causing it to crack.
While some cracking is expected due to settling, larger or horizontal cracks could indicate a serious issue that needs professional attention. It’s always best to consult a professional if you notice significant cracks in your foundation walls.
How to Repair Cracked Basement Walls
The repair process for cracked basement walls depends on the type, location, and seriousness ofIf you’re dealing with a minor crack, you may be able to repair it yourself. While every home is different, a few general rules exist for repairing foundation wall cracks. Typically, you should:
- Use a masonry drill bit to make the hole wide enough for your repair material.
- Clean the crack with a wire brush and vacuum to remove dirt and debris.
- Apply a waterproof sealant to the crack to prevent water from entering.
- Inject a polyurethane or grout into the crack to fill it in.
- Cover the crack with patch material and finish off with paint.
If the crack is more serious, it might require a professional to fix it; these repairs are minimal and may not be necessary, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Professional repair may include underpinning or piers, which stabilize the foundation and stop further movement. Foundation repair companies can assess the damage and provide solutions such as underpinning or wall anchors to stabilize the foundation and prevent other activity. Whatever repair option you choose, ensuring it’s properly installed and sealed against water damage is essential.
The Bottom Line
While some foundation wall cracks are part of a normal settling process, others can indicate serious structural issues. If you need clarification on a break in your foundation wall, it’s always best to consult a professional. At The Crack Team, we provide expert foundation evaluations and repair services to give you peace of mind.
We have decades of experience in the industry and use only the best materials to ensure lasting results. If you need someone to repair a cracked basement wall, you can count on us to do the job right. Contact The Crack Team today for a free foundation evaluation and to learn more about our services.