A cracked foundation is an issue that many homeowners face and sometimes, the cracks are minor or due to natural settling and need no attention at all.
Other times, the cracks are more significant and require any of a variety of cracked foundation solutions to prevent the eventual destabilization of the foundation.
With a basic understanding of why these problems happen and which ones need to be fixed, homeowners can gauge whether they need to call a foundation expert out to take a look.
Two Basic Causes of Cracked Foundations
The first part of understanding cracked foundations is knowing the three causes of these cracks:
All new construction settles a little bit in the first few months which usually results in only the most minor hairline cracks in the foundation, including fine vertical imperfections in block walls and diagonal lines in cement walls.
As long as the cracks stay minor, do not worsen, and there is no moisture coming in, intervention is not customarily required.
Yet cracked foundation solutions are necessary if the cracks worsen over time, the foundation leaks, or the foundation settles on an angle.
Horizontal cracks that start spreading are another warning sign that attention is required, as these are usually caused by more serious ground problems affecting the structure.
Soil Expansion and Contraction
Soils with a high amount of clay makeup expand and contract in relation to the amount of water being held within the soil.
Both reactions can cause cracked foundations, as they both put inward pressure on the foundation.
Clay soils that absorb large amounts of water experience a rise in hydrostatic pressure, which pushes on the foundation as the soil expands.
Conversely, clay soils in drought conditions can also shrink and contract so extremely that the ground pushes on the foundation.
Horizontal cracks are a prime indicator that the problem is due to soil expansion or compaction and a professional cracked foundation solution is necessary, though vertical and diagonal cracks are also possible.
Those problems caused by soil issues are typically larger than settlement cracks and can continue to spread, even worsening to the point of leaking, wall bowing, and other serious structural issues.
Foundation Solutions Needed For Different Causes
Fixing a cracked foundation starts with diagnosing the cause of the problem so the correct repair can be made.
Since most settlement cracks are not structural in nature, they can usually be fixed using simpler methods.
Foundation waterproof coatings work in many cases when dampness due to fine imperfections is the biggest problem.
Other cracks can be filled with epoxy and sealed to prevent leaking and slow the cracks from spreading more.
Leaks in structurally sound foundation walls can also be maintained with the installation of French drains and a sump pump system.
The cracked foundation solutions required to correct problems caused by soil expansion and contraction are more substantial, as these are structural issues.
In some cases, epoxy injections can provide structural support, but bowing walls and foundations that have significant leaks require other repairs.
Foundation wall supports can be installed on the inside in some cases.
In other more serious cases where there is a possibility that the foundation could collapse, it may be necessary to dig out around the foundation and provide some kind of exterior structural repair.
When hydrostatic pressure is an issue, installing better drainage around the structure can help, too.
Contact An Expert About All Cracked Foundations
There are two general causes of cracked foundations: natural settling as well as soil expansion and contraction.
Each of these issues can be corrected using a variety of foundation solutions depending on the cause and severity of the problem.
Foundation cracking due to settling can be common, but it is still an issue that should be investigated.
More serious cracks and any that are leaking should always be addressed before it is too late.
In either case, homeowners should seek solutions for cracked foundations from an experienced professional foundation repair expert!