When Is a Crack a Red Flag for Weakening Foundations?

Maintaining the structural integrity of our homes is often best left to engineers. But sometimes, we, as owners, can also make a big contribution. We can extend the life of our homes and lessen the need for repair or a complete overhaul of our homes by just paying attention to physical signs that we often ignore.

One major issue is failing concrete foundations. One can get the best repair and maintenance services for concrete foundations in Salt Lake City in just one call. But we are better off if we know what is exactly happening with our home foundations to prepare ourselves for impending structural damage. This is also to help technicians when they make their initial assessment. And one common sign of weakening foundations is a crack in the wall. But not all cracks are born the same. How do we know if a crack in the wall means a disaster in the making?

Analyzing Foundation Cracks

Foundations are compromised when we see cracks. These are potential red flags. If we see some crumbling with the cracks, it is a bigger concern. If there is a shifting orientation of a wall, post, or flooring, the entire foundations may need to be replaced.

Cracks are easy to spot. Hairline fractures or cracks (vertical, horizontal, zigzagging) will most likely be evidence of weakening foundations. Larger cracks or ruptures that expose or lead to sloping, sagging, or buckling in the floor and the walls are serious issues.

concrete cracks

The Most Common Cracks

When concrete settles and dries up, there is shrinkage. With uneven shrinkage, cracks can form. Foundations’ concrete and block sections should have fewer cracks than the walls and floors.

1. Hairline Cracks

The least dangerous (or least likely to be a concern) is a hairline crack in the foundations’ mortar. The mortar is found between the concrete blocks. Small cracks here are generally nothing to worry about, unless they grow.

2. Shrinkage Cracks

Usually found in the L-shape section of the foundations, these cracks can be relatively long and thin down to a hairline crack. These are not structural problems. Cement cures and leads to some shrinkage. Sealing the cracks to avoid water to seep through is a simple solution.

3. Stair-step Cracks

These are found in joints, where the walls meet a post above the foundations. If the crack is wider than a quarter of an inch, it is a structural issue. The wall often bulges around the crack. This could be caused by a plugged gutter or water (or moisture) that is pushing the wall.

4. Horizontal Cracks

The most serious of all cracks, these are caused by a soil that expanded after being frozen—or soil that shrank after drying. As the soil expands, it pushes the concrete of the foundations and breaks it. Kinds of soil that freeze are those that are saturated with water. That is why keeping water or moist to accumulate around foundations is very important. Foundations with horizontal cracks are replaced and can never be repaired.

Keeping our home foundations rigid and strong enough starts with how we protect our homes from the elements. Water is the main culprit. We should not just protect the house from above but also from below. By having a constant moisture level of the soil around our foundations, we can definitely maintain our home foundations’ strength.

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