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Foundation Cracks: How to Recognize Your Home’s Cracks and How Serious It Is

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Your home is as sound as your foundation. It can last a long time as long as the contractors who built it created a solid footing for it. So when you find a foundational crack, you should naturally feel a little panic. What does this mean? Will your home slowly begin to crumble? You begin to evaluate the value of your home and your entire decision to purchase this property in the beginning. Don’t worry. Not all foundation cracks mean your home has problems. In fact, some are so typical, foundation experts refer to them as normal foundation cracks. 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about cracks in your foundation and if you should address them.

Horizontal Foundation Cracks

Once you identify any cracks in your foundation, contact a foundation crack repair specialist. They will best evaluate your foundation and tell you if you need a repair. Many times you just need some epoxy to cover the cosmetic damage and to prevent water from coming into your foundation. 

Horizontal cracks come from unbalanced soil and water putting pressure against your foundation. These cracks are the most serious of all. You will most likely see your foundation bending in. You may even find water leaking in your basement. Whether you have a block or poured foundation, you can develop a horizontal crack. If you live in a particularly cold climate, you’ll often find the horizontal cracks below the frost line. They come from the seasonal freezing and thawing cycle. The unbalanced pressure will create a horizontal crack. Foundation experts know best how to repair horizontal cracks. This type of crack does have to result in permanent damage.

Stair Steps

A stair-step crack follows the horizontal and vertical lines of the mortar on a block foundation. Like horizontal cracks, they can cause some serious structural damage over time. Horizontal cracks come from your foundation sinking or settling in just one area or from moisture problems outside your foundation.

Hairline Fractures

New construction foundations often have hairline cracks. Within one year of laying the foundation, a homeowner may notice small cracks as the result of the drying and settling. Hairline fractures contribute to the aesthetics of a home and rarely cause structural problems. Still, to keep your home looking fresh and stable, have these cracks repaired by a professional. Your warranty will most likely cover the cracks.

Vertical Cracks

Vertical cracks do not cause the same problems that horizontal cracks pose. They often happen in poured foundations. You will see them running up your wall. As your foundation settles over time and as the concrete cures naturally, vertical cracks form. A foundation specialist can repair these cracks with a crack injection of polyurethane or epoxy. You can try to repair these cracks on your own or call in a specialist.

Diagonal Cracks

In the natural curing process of concrete and the settlement of your foundation, diagonal cracks can develop. Like vertical cracks, diagonal cracks do not threaten the structural integrity of your home. You can commonly repair these similar to how you repair vertical cracks, with epoxy crack injections. Once again, a professional crack repairman can fix diagonal cracks.

Cracks Caused by Shrinkage

Shrinkage foundations occur when the concrete foundation dries out. The moisture evaporates and causes the concrete to shrink. Within the first year of its existence, new foundations may show these cracks. These cracks manifest themselves as vertical cracks. They do not threaten the structural integrity of your home. You should still have them cared for lest you run the risk of a radon gas leak in your basement.

Foundation Slab Cracks

Many people believe they can avoid foundation problems if they avoid creating a basement. But even concrete slabs can develop cracks. When your concrete pad settles and dries, it can also curl. Also, it could develop a crack because of poor or compacted soil conditions. Finally, when your contractor installs the slab above or at grade, your slab could develop cracks because of frost heave. The water under the slab will freeze and cause your slab to buckle.

Structural Foundation Crack

Structural foundation cracks are those that most affect your structure. Horizontal cracks and wider cracks, those wider than a quarter-inch, are the most likely to cause structural damage. Often these structural foundation cracks result from soil movement around the foundation. The soil will shift as temperatures rise and fall, and as soil expands and shrinks as a result.

Evaluating the Cracks

The type of crack you have determines if you have a real problem. While all cracks are unattractive, not all of them pose a structural threat. Your home will not implode because you spy a crack. 

These are the cracks you should deal with immediately: 

  • Shrinkage cracks if you live in an area where Radon gas is possible; it will leak into your home
  • Stairstep cracks that follow the mortar of the bricks
  • Horizontal cracks that reach across your basement walls. 

Stairstep cracks and horizontal cracks pose a structural threat to your home. Your walls will begin to bow, and you will begin to see cracks in your main floor walls. Call a specialist if your home has developed these cracks.

Fill the Cracks, Save a House 

While some foundation cracks will not compromise the structure of your home, all cracks need repairing. Do not let them sit. They make your home unsightly, and they can grow larger and let in pests and moisture. 

If you notice a crack in your foundation, contact us. We can help you. We aim to provide you the solid, reliable foundation service you need. 

Our family-owned and operated business serve the greater San Antonio and Austin areas We combine outstanding customer service with quality workmanship. As a result, we provide you with foundation repair in the area. Give us a call today, and let us evaluate and repair your foundation.

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