Foundation Cracks: When to Be Concerned & When to Relax

foundation cracks to be concerned about fixing foundation cracks

If you’ve noticed cracks in your foundation, you may be wondering— Is it do I need to repair my foundation? Will a cracked foundation negatively affect my home? The answer is: it depends.

Some cracks are nothing to worry about, while others can signify a serious problem. We’ll help you determine the foundation cracks to be concerned about and the ones to keep an eye on.

Why Does a Foundation Get Cracks? And What Is Normal?

foundation cracks to be concerned about what kinds of cracks are normal

Cracks in your foundation are commonly found near points where pressure is exerted, such as window frames, doorways, and pipes. Also, foundation cracks often show up on the exterior of your foundation. These cracks can have many different causes; here are some of the most prevalent ones.

  • Excessive Settlement. This is a very common cause of foundation cracks. While some settlement is normal for your home, excess settling can cause issues and is not a normal part of foundation settlement.  This is especially true for homes built on expansive clay soils that tend to absorb and retain large amounts of moisture.
  • Tree Roots. If you have a tree planted too close to your home, its roots may be pushing against your foundation, causing cracks.
  • Improper Construction or Maintenance. It’s important to ensure that your foundation is properly built and maintained in order for it to remain strong and stable. Poor construction or maintenance can leave your foundation vulnerable to cracking, which could lead to more serious issues if left unaddressed.
  • Earthquakes or Shifting Soil. If you live in an area prone to seismic activity, earthquakes can cause foundation cracks. Additionally, if the soil around your home shifts due to heavy rainfall or drought, it can also lead to foundation cracking.
  • Moisture in the Soil. Too much moisture in the soil around your home can cause it to expand, which can lead to foundation cracking.
  • Changes in Temperature. Temperature changes, from freezing to thawing and back again, cause expansion and contraction in both the soil and foundation materials. This leads to foundation cracks over time. Additionally, extreme heat or sun exposure causes cracking.

It’s important to distinguish between cracks that require attention and those that are normal.  If a crack is wider than ¼ inch, it may be cause for concern. Additionally, if you notice vertical or diagonal cracking in the wall, this may also indicate a more serious issue with your foundation.

Different Types of Foundation Cracks

Foundation cracks are signs of a weakening structure and should be taken seriously. Cracks can vary in size, depth, location, and shape— all signs pointing to the source of the problem.

Horizontal Cracks

Thin horizontal cracks indicate settlement issues due to soil movement or hydrostatic pressure. They may show up in the basement, interior, or exterior walls of your home.

V-Shaped Cracks

Wide V-shaped cracks may be signs of an improper joint between elements.  These types of cracks are often found in the corners of your foundation walls.

foundation cracks to be concerned about v shaped cracks

Diagonal Cracks

Diagonal cracks indicate structural weakness in your foundation and should be addressed immediately.

Vertical Cracks

Vertical cracks are signs of possible shrinkage if the concrete is too dry during curing and/or significant foundation movement from seismic activity or poor soil compaction.

Homeowners should note that any type of crack in their house’s foundation could mean costly repairs, so it’s important to have a professional inspect the area to determine why the cracks are occurring and see what needs to be done.

When to Be Concerned About Foundation Cracks

Foundation cracks can be a cause for concern, but not all foundation cracks indicate distress. The foundation of your house supports the entire structure, and minor settle cracks are to be expected with ordinary foundation movement that’s caused by seasonal changes in soil moisture.

If a foundation crack is wide enough to fit a quarter inside, then it should be taken seriously! Cracks of this width and upward suggest a more serious issue, such as foundation settling or inadequate foundation support, both of which require expert evaluation and possible repair.

Contact a professional foundation specialist if your house exhibits signs of foundation shifting like:

  • Wider foundation cracks
  • Windows and doors sticking
  • Exterior wall and interior floor cracking
  • Shifts in stairs and slabs
  • Walls leaning or bowing outwards
  • And other odd symptoms that could point towards a foundation issue

How to Fix Foundation Cracks

foundation cracks to be concerned about how to fix

If your home is developing cracks in the foundation walls, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean your house is going to collapse— it can be remedied. It’s relatively easy to fix these cracks yourself if you know what you’re doing, but it’s always wise to call in a pro for foundation repair to ensure they don’t come back once repaired.

To begin fixing the crack, start by brushing out the crack with a wire brush and clean it with a vacuum. Then, depending on how wide the crack is, fill it completely with hydraulic cement or even flexible elastomeric sealant. Don’t forget waterproofing on both sides of the wall!

While do-it-yourself repairs can work for minor cracking or cracks on interior drywall, bigger problems may require more intensive fixes like helical anchoring. For any severe foundation wall repairs, make sure you call the pros at Perma Pier.

Tips for Preventing Foundation Cracks in the Future

Foundation maintenance is key to preventing foundation cracks.

  1. Conducting regular inspections to detect any foundation issues and proactively scheduling foundation repair or reinforcement are essential steps in foundation maintenance.
  2. Taking measures such as ensuring proper drainage away from the foundation and adjusting nearby sprinkler systems can help reduce the stress put on foundation walls by moisture and weather conditions.
  3. Keeping attics, basements, and other crawl spaces well-ventilated helps maintain an even temperature and minimize the settling of foundations.
  4. Making sure that large trees close to a foundation do not create too much shade can also be beneficial.

Taking these foundation maintenance tips seriously can help prevent foundation cracks in the future.

Choose Perma Pier for Your Foundation Repairs

If you have cracks in your foundation, it’s important to determine the type of crack and whether or not it’s cause for concern. Some cracks can be fixed with do-it-yourself solutions, while others may require the help of a professional. 

By taking proactive steps to prevent foundation problems, you can keep your home in good condition for years to come. If you need help repairing or preventing foundation damage, call the experts at Perma Pier today.

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