Give us a call (24/7) at

(855) 554-7246

A Great Job at a Great Price!®
Read Our Reviews!

Reading Foundation Cracks and When To Call For Help

Reading Foundation Cracks and When To Call For Help

You’re outside your house doing yard work when something on your home catches your eye: a crack in the foundation cement. Or, you’re inside, and you notice a slight fissure along your bedroom wall. Sound familiar? Not every crack is a big deal; sometimes they’re just the product of an old house settling. Occasionally, though, cracks can be a warning sign. How can you tell the difference? As House Logic notes in their article on foundation problems, “The sooner you identify potential problems, the easier — and less expensive — it is to fix them.” In this article, we will discuss different kinds of foundation cracks, warning signs that you might need to have the foundation evaluated, and definite signs that you should call for help.

Doors and Windows

Glass door

Has a door recently stopped closing properly? Check the door to make sure the problem isn’t something superficial, such as a gimmicky latch or damage to the door or frame. If it won’t stay latched, or if it is scraping the floor or ceiling, it might be a sign that your foundation has shifted and altered the angle of the floor or frame. It’s the same with windows: Watch out for windows that won’t latch anymore or are scraping the frame. If this problem appears and gets worse over time, it might be a foundation issue.

Don’t panic if you have these problems. What should you do first? You can check your inside walls with a level. Make sure they’re straight and not bending or bowing. If the level shows a problem, you’ll want to check your foundation more closely.

Cracks Inside the House

Have you noticed new cracks on the inside walls or cracks that are growing over time? Cracks in the house that are particularly concerning are ones that appear around doorways, windows, or where the ceiling meets the wall. If you have vinyl or ceramic tile on concrete floors, keep alert for cracks appearing in it.

Whether you have problems with your doors and windows, or you’re noticing cracks, you’ll want to take a closer look at your foundation. How do you do that?

Check Your Foundation Wall

Foundation crack

Most houses have a concrete foundation, but it may also be brick or stone. There are a few different checks you can do on your foundation.

  • Do a visual check on your foundation wall by walking around the outside of your house. If bushes or something else blocks the view of your foundation wall, do your best. Take note of any foundation cracks.
  • If you have a poured cement foundation, check it for deterioration. Using a screwdriver, poke it in several places. It should not flake, crumble, or sustain any damage. If it does, it might be an older, lesser concrete mix, or it might be deteriorating due to pressure on foundation walls.
  • Use your basement or crawl space to investigate further. Besides the foundation wall, there should be posts of some kind, probably wood, set into cement piers. Check any wood posts for rot, moisture, or damage. Also, check the posts with a level to make sure they’re straight. Check the cement piers for any flaking, crumbling, or cracks.
  • Check for puddles. If there’s a lot of moisture in your foundation area, it means that water isn’t draining from it adequately, which can cause damage to your foundation over time. If the soil around your foundation is getting wet often, it will expand from the water and then shrink when it dries. If this happens repeatedly, your foundation will be affected.

Reading Foundation Cracks

During your foundation inspection, you might notice a few different varieties of cracks. There are several causes for the different types of cracks, and they each cause varying degrees of danger to your foundation.

  • Horizontal cracks in the foundation wall, posts, or cement piers are a big problem. They could indicate issues with the soil. As mentioned above, if there’s a drainage problem, the soil will moisten and dry repeatedly. The resulting back and forth shifting of mass is bad news for the foundation. It is possible that you will need a new foundation.
  • Stair-step cracks in any masonry joints are caused by something putting too much pressure on the joints. These cracks can indicate a serious problem.
  • Fissures at an L-shape section of your foundation are probably from shrinkage. You can try plugging them to reduce moisture getting into the cracks and making them worse.
  • Small cracks in the mortar between foundation concrete blocks are not a big deal. But like any cracks in your house, you’ll want to keep an eye on them.

What To Do Next

Foundation repair worker

If your inspection has yielded only tiny cracks, you can try painting them over with concrete waterproofing paint. However, keep an eye on them in case they return or worsen. If you’re noticing any of the significant problems we’ve mentioned above, or if you notice any cracks are worsening over time, you will want to hire a professional to evaluate your foundation for you and give you repair or replacement options. Some fixes might include steel braces or straps of carbon-filter mesh to straighten or shore up a foundation. An expert might also add helical screws or concrete piers to your foundation. In some cases, you might need a brand new foundation.

It is critical that you check the foundation of your home frequently, and ensure the proper maintenance when required.  As we’ve shown, there are warning signs if your foundation needs to be repaired or replaced. If you need to hire an expert in foundation evaluation and repair, give Basement Repair Specialists a call. Our highly experienced team of professionals offer affordable services, and we’re known for our honesty, options, and competitive prices. Fair treatment of customers is the most integral part of Basement Repair Specialists’ company culture. Our family-focused team is also tech-friendly, using the best equipment available. We are green-friendly, too! Best of all, we offer a free, no-pressure estimate on your home, so contact us today.

For more information about your basement repair needs, visit our Basement Repair Blog.