Home Improvement: Are Foundation Cracks Normal?
As a diligent homeowner, you have probably implemented measures to prevent basement flooding with the sole aim of preventing foundation damage. This could be installing gutters appropriately to drive water away from your foundation, but to your surprise, you find a crack on your foundation.
Typically, your heart will skip a beat but should foundation cracks worry you that much? Maybe Yes or No, but before your blood pumping organ skips the second beat, let’s examine when you should fret over foundation cracks.
Are Foundation Cracks A Normal Thing?
First and foremost, it’s conventional for foundations to have cracks, but knowing to tell between worrisome and insignificant cracks is essential.
Conventionally, cracks on new foundations are a result of the curing and hardening process of cement. The curing process shrinks the concrete, leading to cracks. Such cracks, also known as shrinkage cracks, are mostly insignificant when they are 1/16 inch wide.
Other crevices can emanate from foundation movement but first understand that foundations normally bend, though a little bit. Nevertheless, excessive bending leads to cracks, usually an 8th of an inch wide.
You will bear witness that most of the foundations have been enforced with steel, and that’s why you have probably noted that some cracks open and close while the two sides of the foundation remain at the same level.
You should not be worried by vertical or diagonal cracks on your foundation. The prevalent causes of such cracks are concrete tension a few years following the construction and rains that cause water pressure against the foundation.
It’s easy to fix vertical cracks with inexpensive materials besides taking measures to prevent further damage. Do not be tempted or allow a contractor to repair the crack by chiseling out a V-groove and subsequently filling it with cement. First, the cement does not bond with the old cement, and secondly, moisture and temperature fluctuations may damage the cement plug.
Use the flexible, waterproof, and lightweight polyurethane or epoxy to seal the cracks permanently.
Few actions can help prevent continued foundation damage. Unclog your gutter and extend short drains about 5 feet away from your foundation. Consider undertaking some strategic landscaping if a hilly section around your home is driving water onto your foundation.
Be wary of vertical cracks broader than an 8th of an inch, cracks that occur at the corner, or cracks that are wider at the top than the bottom. Also, if you notice diagonal cracks running about 30 to 50 degrees from the perpendicular, it’s time you make a quick call to a professional foundation repair company.
You don’t want to come across horizontal cracks on your foundation. They are the most worrisome since they indicate a precarious structural issue and can eventually lead to foundation failure.
Common causes of horizontal foundation cracks are the excess force of soil pressure pushing against the foundation, movement of heavy equipment near the wall, excessive backfilling, and frost heave.
The moment you identify such cracks, notify a foundation repair specialist to evaluate the damage and carry out the appropriate repairs. In cases the wall gets pushed in due to excess soil pressure, a professional may reinforce the wall with steel columns or use carbon fiber straps (quite expensive).
Alternatively, yard anchors may be used but will need tightening twice a year. Anchor yards will in time straighten your walls.
Some professionals may recommend installing a new wall against the existing foundation wall. Note that this technique neither stops lateral movement nor eliminates soil pressure.
When Is A Cracked Foundation Beyond Repair?
Undoubtedly, there are several ways to repair a cracked foundation, some of which have been highlighted above.
Sometimes, however, a cracked foundation may be deemed irreparable when the restoration investment does not add value to the home. This is whereby a foundation crumbles and causes irreversible damage to your home.
Cracks that change direction or in which a dime or finger can fit are indicators of a severe threat that requires immediate inspection by a licensed and reputed professional.
Cracks are normal in both new and old foundations and occur due to several factors discussed above. There are various types of foundation cracks, including diagonal, vertical, and horizontal cracks that show varying degrees of damage. With the information above, you are sure to identify cracks that you can repair by yourself and those that require the intervention of a licensed and professional contractor.