If you’re a homeowner, foundation cracks can be problematic, especially when you’re unsure what it means. They don’t necessarily mean your home is unsafe, and they’re often no big deal. However, you still need to have a professional evaluate them because even the ones that appear to be small and harmless to the untrained eye can lead to severe problems down the road.
There’s a good chance if you’re reading this article, then you’re worried about a crack in your foundation. If this is the case, you need to call an experienced foundation repair company to inspect the cracks because no matter how many articles you read, you’ll never get peace of mind until you know if the crack is serious. We’re one of the best foundation repair companies in Baton Rouge so you can trust our team’s information.
Structural Vs. Non-Structural Foundation Crack Repairs: When To Worry
Foundation cracks are normal and roughly 98% of homes constructed of concrete, masonry blocks, or bricks need foundation crack repairs at one time or another. Some foundation cracks are serious, while others are purely cosmetic. Cosmetic ones usually happen within the first few years of when the home was constructed and are generally caused by the settling of the house and the concrete drying.
Foundation crack repair is classified into two main categories – Structural cracks and non-structural cracks. Below we’ll tell you the difference between the two, the best way to repair them, and when to worry. If you’re unsure of the type of crack you’re dealing with, it’s best to call one of our experts to come out to inspect your foundation.
Non-Structural Foundation Cracks
These cracks don’t threaten the building’s structural foundation, are cosmetic and caused by concrete shrinkage during the drying process. Weather conditions such as rain and extreme heat can also cause non-structural cracks in your foundation. However, this doesn’t always mean they’re harmless, so pay attention to ensure they don’t grow in length, width or start to leak.
How to Identify Non-Structural Foundation Cracks
- Vertical foundation cracks – Vertical cracks in a foundation wall go from the top to the bottom and are caused by rain that puts pressure against the foundation walls in newer homes. There’s no need to worry if you notice a slight slant (within 30 degrees); this is normal. Once this foundation crack is repaired, ensuring your gutters aren’t clogged and your downspouts extend roughly 5 feet from your home is typically enough to prevent this.
- 1/8th of an inch wide or less – cracks that are less than 1/8th of an inch or less are usually cosmetic and should be monitored to make sure they aren’t getting larger. The best way to do this is by marking the end of it, putting the date, and then checking it every so often; if you notice that it starts leaking or gets larger, call a professional to repair the crack in your foundation. The most common way to fix this type of crack is an epoxy or polyurethane crack injection, which costs around $400.
- Cracks only in one concrete block – A crack in a single block usually means it was damaged during construction or transportation, and it’s not a cause for concern. Although, like all foundation cracks, this should be repaired and then monitored to ensure they don’t grow larger.
- Hairline basement floor cracks – hairline cracks in a basement floor only affect the look of the home and are not an indication of structural damage. To repair these, simply call a foundation crack repair company, and they can keep it from spreading. Usually, these cracks start from the corners (at 90 degrees), then spread out across the room. If they are wider than ½ of an inch, it may indicate a problem with your foundation.
Structural Foundation Cracks
Structural foundation cracks threaten a home’s structural integrity and can occur because of poor construction, soil that’s too wet or dry, soil constriction, and expansive voids. This is most common in areas where they have clay soil. Poor draining and improper grading can cause standing water along your foundation or under your home’s foundation. This foundation crack repair will be more extensive and should only be done by a professional.
How To Identify Structural Cracks
- Vertical cracks over 1/8th inch – Cracks over 1/8th of an inch wide are probably not due to shrinkage but indicate a more serious issue. If the vertical crack has become bigger than 1/8th of an inch, it’s time to call a foundation crack repair company to have it inspected.
- Horizontal foundation cracks – horizontal cracks indicate a serious problem and are usually caused by standing water putting pressure against the foundation. While most foundations are designed to handle the pressure of water and soil, too much pressure from heavy rains or flooding can cause horizontal cracks, and they need to be looked at immediately.
- Stair-Step Cracks – Stair step cracks are worrisome and are identifiable by their stair step-like appearance and occur along mortar joints. These arise from your house’s foundation settling or sinking in one area or moisture-related issues outside your foundation.
- A series of vertical cracks next to each other or large diagonal cracks can indicate that you have foundation issues and need to call someone to inspect your home’s foundation and repair the damages.
- Cracks in the ceilings that extend across it and down a wall are usually structural cracks, and it’s vital to have them inspected as soon as you notice them.
How to Prevent Foundation Cracks
The best way to prevent cracks in your foundation is to ensure you have good drainage around your home’s foundation. Your yard should be appropriately graded (at a downward slope), so water doesn’t pool around your home’s foundation. Inspect your home’s gutters and downspouts to remove any debris that may clog them, and the drains should extend at least 5 feet from your house. If they are too close, they can seep into the soil and put pressure on the foundation. If you notice any cracks in your foundation, have a professional inspect and repair them.