When to Worry About Foundation Cracks: Red Flags

When to Worry About Foundation Cracks Red Flags

Your home’s foundation is like the backbone of your house, providing support and stability. However, foundation cracks are a common issue that homeowners may encounter. While not all foundation cracks are cause for alarm, it’s essential to recognize when to worry about them and take action promptly. In this blog post, we will explore the red flags associated with foundation cracks and when it’s time to seek professional help.

Types of Foundation Cracks

Before we delve into the red flags, let’s briefly discuss the different types of foundation cracks:

Hairline Cracks

Description: Hairline cracks are those slender, superficial cracks that typically measure less than 1/16th of an inch in width. They are often barely noticeable and can resemble fine lines on the foundation’s surface.

Causes: Hairline cracks are among the most common types of cracks in foundations and can result from various factors, including minor settling, natural concrete curing, or minor shifts in the soil. They are generally considered normal and not a significant cause for concern.

Action Needed: In most cases, hairline cracks don’t require immediate attention. However, it’s a good practice to monitor them for any changes over time. If they start to widen or multiply, it may be worth consulting a professional to rule out underlying issues.

Vertical Cracks

Description: Vertical cracks, as the name suggests, run straight up and down along the foundation wall. These types of cracks are often observed in poured concrete foundations.

Causes: Vertical cracks can occur due to settling, which is a natural process as the soil beneath your foundation compacts over time. While vertical cracks can be concerning if they are extensive, narrow vertical cracks are generally considered less alarming.

Action Needed: If you notice narrow vertical cracks, especially if they are less than 1/16th of an inch wide, they may not be an immediate cause for alarm. However, it’s still a good idea to monitor them for any changes. If they start to widen or if other red flags accompany them, a professional evaluation is advisable.

Diagonal Cracks

Description: Diagonal cracks manifest at an angle, typically ranging from 30 to 75 degrees, and may appear wider at the top or bottom. These cracks are more complex than vertical or horizontal ones.

Causes: Diagonal cracks often indicate foundation movement or stress. They can result from factors like soil expansion and contraction, hydrostatic pressure, or structural issues within the foundation.

Action Needed: Diagonal cracks should be taken more seriously than hairline or narrow vertical cracks. If you notice diagonal cracks in your foundation, it’s advisable to consult a professional foundation inspector. They can assess the extent of the damage, identify the underlying cause, and recommend appropriate remedies.

Horizontal Cracks

Description: Horizontal cracks are the most concerning type of foundation cracks. They run perpendicular to the foundation wall and can be seen as lines that stretch across the wall’s width.

Causes: Horizontal cracks are typically caused by significant structural issues, such as excessive lateral pressure from the surrounding soil, frost heave, or foundation settlement. These cracks are a clear indication that the foundation’s structural integrity is compromised.

Action Needed: Horizontal cracks should be addressed immediately. They are a sign of serious foundation problems that require professional intervention. Ignoring horizontal cracks can lead to further structural damage and costly repairs. A foundation expert can assess the situation, recommend appropriate repairs, and prevent more extensive damage.

Red Flags to Watch For

While some foundation cracks are benign, certain red flags indicate more severe problems. Here are the warning signs that should raise concerns:

1. Width of the Crack

The width of the crack is a crucial factor in determining its severity. Generally, cracks narrower than 1/16th of an inch (about the thickness of a credit card) are often considered minor and may result from normal settling. However, cracks wider than this should be investigated further.

2. Vertical Displacement

Vertical displacement occurs when one side of the crack is higher or lower than the other. If you notice that one side of the crack has shifted vertically, it can be a sign of ongoing foundation movement, which requires professional evaluation.

3. Diagonal or Horizontal Cracks

As mentioned earlier, diagonal and horizontal cracks are more concerning than vertical cracks. These types of cracks can indicate structural issues that need immediate attention. Horizontal cracks, in particular, are a clear sign of serious problems.

4. Multiple Cracks

If you observe multiple cracks in your foundation, especially in different areas of your home, it could be a sign of widespread foundation movement. This situation should not be ignored, as it may indicate a significant structural issue.

5. Interior Signs

Pay attention to any interior signs that may accompany foundation cracks, such as:

  • Doors and Windows: Difficulty in opening and closing doors and windows, or gaps around them, can be a sign of foundation movement.
  • Uneven Floors: If your floors are sloping or uneven, it may be due to foundation problems.
  • Cracked Walls and Ceilings: Interior walls and ceilings may develop cracks if there are foundation issues.

6. Exterior Signs

Inspect the exterior of your home for the following signs:

  • Bowing or Bulging Walls: If you notice that your foundation walls are bowing inward or outward, it’s a serious structural concern.
  • Cracks in Masonry: Cracks in exterior bricks, stone, or concrete can indicate foundation movement.
  • Water Intrusion: Foundation cracks can allow water to enter your basement or crawl space, leading to water damage.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you notice any of the red flags mentioned above, it’s essential to seek professional assistance promptly. Foundation issues tend to worsen over time, and addressing them early can prevent more extensive and costly damage.

Professional foundation inspectors can assess the cracks, identify the underlying causes, and recommend appropriate solutions. These may include foundation repair techniques such as underpinning, slab leveling, or waterproofing.

Contact Done Right Foundation Repair

At Done Right Foundation Repair, we specialize in diagnosing and repairing foundation issues. If you’re worried about foundation cracks in your home, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team of experienced professionals will conduct a thorough inspection and provide you with a detailed assessment of the situation.

Your home’s safety and structural integrity are our top priorities. Reach out to Done Right Foundation Repair today by calling one of our locations or visiting our contact page to schedule an inspection. Don’t wait until foundation problems become more severe—act now to protect your investment and your peace of mind.