When Should You Become Concerned About the Cracks in Your Foundation
Foundations offer support and overall stability of a home. It is said a home is only as sound as the foundation it is built upon, so when homeowners see cracks in their foundations they may worry about the structural integrity of their home.
Some types of foundation cracks do not pose a concern, while other types should signal cause for concern.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VERTICAL, HORIZONTAL AND DIAGONAL CRACKS IN THE FOUNDATION
Vertical & Horizontal Cracks that are caused by the concrete drying and normal shrinkage of the concrete due to aging are typical and should not be of concern. However, if vertical or horizontal cracks change over time lengthening and become wider as the crack progresses this is cause for concern as you may have what is referred to as a sheared crack. The telltale characteristic of a sheared crack is one side/section of the crack will protrude out further than the other. If you were to rub your hand over the top of the crack you would feel a lip.
Diagonal Cracks or angled cracks are most commonly found in the corners of foundations. These cracks represent settlement of the foundation moving downward and this is a cause for concern.
CAUSES OF CRACKS IN FOUNDATIONS
Homes in the Kansas City area are poured on compacted soil which consists mostly of clay. During the summer months, the clay will shrink, leaving the foundation with little to no support. The lack of support causes stress on the foundation which causes the foundation to shift and crack over time.
During dry months or drought, it is important to water your foundation with a soaker hose and run it every night for about 20-30 minutes.
Wet and rainy seasons can also cause stress to foundations. When the clay is overly saturated, after heavy rainfall or flooding, it will expand creating pressure that pushes the foundation inward. Foundation walls that are leaning inward again are cause for concern and should be evaluated by a certified inspector.
DO CRACKS ABOVE YOUR WINDOWS OR DOORS MEAN YOUR FOUNDATION IS SETTLING?
It is a misconception that foundation damage only occurs in the homes foundation. When there is added stress on the foundation, other elements of the home start to shift. A trained home inspector will look for signs of foundation settlement near window frames, door jams, around the eaves of the roof and other locations known to show the signs of a stressed or settling foundation.
SHOULD I HAVE AN ENGINEER LOOK AT MY FOUNDATION?
It is recommended to have a home inspector do an initial inspection before hiring a Structural Engineer.
Structural Engineers focus only on the foundation; whereas a home inspector evaluates the entire home. InspectorNick.com understands that multiple problems in a home are often related. For example, the pitch of a roof can affect the efficiency of guttering and downspouts, guttering and downspouts can affect the foundation and of course, the structural integrity of the foundation can affect the entire house. All systems of the home are connected and related.