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  • Writer's pictureRob Byrne

Foundation Cracks

Are you planning on buying a house? Do you know what foundation cracks are? If you don't, it's time to educate yourself. Foundation cracks are one of the most common issues found during a home inspection. They're not something to be taken lightly because they can cause major damage to your home if left unattended. There are different types of foundation cracks, and each requires a thorough inspection by a professional. Vertical cracks, horizontal cracks, diagonal cracks, and stair-step cracks are the most common ones. Identifying these cracks during a home inspection is crucial because they can indicate serious problems with the foundation. Ignoring foundation cracks can lead to expensive repairs, so make sure you identify and resolve them before it's too late. Don't wait until the problem gets worse. It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your home's foundation.



Vertical Foundation Cracks

Foundation cracks are a common problem that is often discovered during a home inspection. A crack in the foundation can be a result of natural wear and tear, poor construction, or other factors. It is essential to understand the different types of foundation cracks, the causes, and the possible solutions during a home inspection. What are vertical foundation cracks? Vertical foundation cracks are cracks that run straight up and down. They are caused by settling or sinking of the foundation, and they are most commonly found in older homes. Vertical cracks are not as severe as some of the other crack types, but they can still lead to water infiltration and other issues. Causes of vertical foundation cracks Vertical foundation cracks can be caused by various factors such as water damage, soil movement, and poor construction. Water infiltration is a common cause of vertical foundation cracks, which can cause the soil to shift and create cracks. Assessment of vertical foundation cracks during a home inspection A professional home inspector will check the severity of the vertical foundation crack. If the crack is less than 3/16 of an inch wide, it is most likely not a significant issue. However, any crack larger than that should be further examined to determine the underlying cause. Fixing vertical foundation cracks Small vertical foundation cracks can often be fixed with a simple patching compound. On the other hand, larger cracks may require professional repair, such as injection or hydraulic cement. A professional contractor can give an assessment and recommend the best solution for the crack. In conclusion, vertical foundation cracks are a common issue that can be easily fixed if detected early. A home inspection can help identify these cracks and prevent further damage to the home's foundation.

Horizontal Foundation Cracks

If you spot horizontal cracks along the foundation walls during a home inspection, it can be a sign of serious foundation damage. These types of cracks form due to the soil beneath the foundation, expanding or contracting due to changes in moisture levels. During an inspection, a home inspector will measure the width of the cracks and check for signs of displacement or bowing. Bowing is a serious issue that requires immediate attention as it can lead to foundation failure. The most common fix for horizontal cracks is using epoxy or urethane injections to seal the crack and provide added support. In some cases, carbon fiber straps or steel plates may be added for extra reinforcement. Although some homeowners may try to DIY the repair using a sealant or mortar mix, it is always recommended to seek professional help, as these quick fixes may not address the underlying issue. Remember, horizontal cracks need urgent attention and should not be ignored. If left untreated, they can cause serious damage to your home's foundation and pose a safety risk to anyone who lives in it.


Diagonal Foundation Cracks

When it comes to diagonal foundation cracks, the causes can vary from improper construction to soil pressure. If the soil beneath the foundation is not appropriately compacted, it can easily shift or settle over time, causing the foundation to crack diagonally. During a home inspection, it is critical to assess and determine the severity of diagonal foundation cracks. One way to do this is by measuring the width of the crack and monitoring it over time. If the crack continues to widen, it may signal a more significant problem with the foundation. Fixing diagonal foundation cracks often involves installing a helical pier or foundation underpinning system to support the foundation and prevent further cracking. It is essential to consult a professional to determine the best solution for your particular situation. Remember, ignoring diagonal foundation cracks can lead to more significant structural issues in the future. Don't let a tiny crack turn into a gaping hole - nip it in the bud and get it fixed!


Stair-Step Foundation Cracks

If there's a foundation crack that looks like a flight of stairs, then congratulations! You've got yourself a stair-step foundation crack, and it's as much fun as climbing stairs. But seriously, these cracks can indicate a more significant issue with the foundation. Let's dive into what causes them. Stair-step cracks generally happen when the foundation settles unevenly, causing stress to a specific area. This can be due to several factors, such as poor construction, water runoff, or soil movement. It can also indicate a problem with the drainage system around your home. During a home inspection, assess the severity of the crack by measuring the width and height. If it's more than 1/4 inch wide or the step is higher than 1/4 inch, it could be a red flag. A professional inspector can also determine if they're active or inactive, meaning they're currently worsening or have stabilized. Fixing stair-step foundation cracks can vary depending on the severity. Some DIY methods include filling the crack with hydraulic cement or epoxy, but it's always best to consult with a professional. They can diagnose the root cause of the issue and suggest the best course of action to prevent further damage. Don't be fooled by the name, these cracks are no fun and games. If left unattended, they can lead to more significant foundation problems and costly repairs. Time to put your inspector's hat on and check for any stair-step cracks around your home.


Conclusion

Foundation cracks are a red flag to home buyers because they could indicate serious structural damage. Vertical cracks are typically less serious than horizontal or diagonal cracks. Stair-step cracks suggest soil movement, which could lead to shifting and settling. No matter the type, it is important to get an expert opinion and address any issues before it's too late.

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