Cracks in your foundation are nothing new. Over time, the soil around your home adds to the amount of pressure that it bears. As the pressure increases, the soil can no longer hold as much weight. As this happens, the weight causes the ground to settle, which can eventually cause a foundation crack or foundation distortion. Cracks can also indicate other serious structural issues and sometimes they can even be insignificant. In the United States about 60% of all houses are constructed on soils with some sand content; however, of those more than half of all houses will experience foundation damage over time.
Foundation cracks can occur anywhere there is a dip in the ground, such as along basement walls, exterior walls, or walls surrounding the home. Sometimes structural cracks can go unnoticed until after the home has been standing for some time, when the ground has begun to settle. Cracks can appear just before or right after the floor has begun to settle. The actual location of the crack in the soil can vary greatly depending on the actual soil conditions, factors such as humidity, rainfall, and amounts of water draining through the soil.
Non-structural cracks can be found anywhere there is a dip in the ground, such as in the corners of basement walls, around skylights, doors and windows, and in doors near windows. These can appear to be small, even specks of dirt that can easily be missed, but if you look carefully you will notice that many of them actually form into cracks over time. While minor cosmetic issues can be repaired with cleaning materials, most non-structural cracks are not easily fixed without removing part or all of the wall. When the wall to be removed needs to be replaced, all new siding must be installed around the perimeter of the hole to create a smooth and level surface.
Moisture can cause foundation repair contractors to check for more foundation cracks than simply drainage issues. Moisture content in the soil should be between one and ten percent. Signs of moisture problems include puddles of standing water, sunken areas, and uneven or bulging foundation walls. Standing water can contribute to cracks in the foundation, especially around skylights, bathroom and kitchen doors, and in the baseboard near floor outlets. Sunken areas may indicate underlying structural issues, such as the presence of accumulated drywall or excess moisture collecting there.
Leaks, or what is commonly known as “browning out,” can also indicate deeper structural issues. Cracks or leaks in the walls, ceiling, or floors may indicate faulty insulation, faulty vent fans, or chemical damage caused by mold. Other signs of leaks include mildew growing around bathtubs, faucets, or shower curtains. If you see a brownish or yellow discoloration on your walls, ceiling, or floors it is important to have your home inspected by a licensed foundation repair contractor as soon as possible. Discolored walls could mean the start of structural issues which will need to be addressed before the problem gets out of control.
Another common cause of structural damage is soil movement. The foundation of a two story house should be built upon a firm base of gravel, sand, or crushed stone. If soil pressures are present, holes or cracks may widen from time to time. If this is happening to your house, a licensed foundation repair contractor can evaluate the situation and recommend the best course of action.
Many people ignore cracks in their homes, hoping that they will go away. However, ignoring small cracks in concrete is just not a smart move. Cracks in the foundation weaken the structure and create gaps that can easily allow moisture to build up, posing a significant risk of structural damage. Signs of cracks in the foundation should be addressed immediately, and the problem should never be allowed to get any worse. There are many things that a trained professional can do to correct minor cracks, such as applying an epoxy onto the affected area.
Horizontal Foundation Cracks is often seen on the exterior walls of a home. These types of cracks are caused by soil settling on the surface of the wall. As the earth settles, it pushes up on the exterior walls, creating gaps. A horizontal wall crack is often caused by soil movement, so it is important to address this problem right away to ensure that your home remains safe.