There is little doubt that you are unnerved when you see cracks in your foundation. It is common for many people to associate the appearance of cracks on a building with a poor design or construction of the building. However, this is not always true. Foundation cracks and other types of cracks occur due to various reasons. Different types of cracks also mean different things, and not all types of cracks should be a cause for concern.
Here are some points that you need to know about different types of foundation cracks and what they mean when you see them in your house.
1. Vertical Cracks
Most vertical cracks run up and down the foundation, though some of them slant up about 30 degrees. It is common to see vertical cracks on the foundation during the foundation’s curing process. The reason why vertical cracks are common, especially in new buildings, is that they are caused by the concrete shrinking process.
Most vertical foundation cracks are small and, therefore, harmless since they are usually just at the surface of the foundation. But you should be concerned if you see vertical cracks that are wider than 1/8 inch or 3 mm. You need to call a foundation repair expert if you see such cracks.
2. Diagonal Cracks
Diagonal foundation cracks are caused by uneven settling of the foundation. They usually have a slanting orientation, with an angle of between 30 and 75 degrees. At the start, diagonal cracks are usually narrow and are commonly known as hairline cracks. But if left unrepaired, these cracks can expand and provide an easy route for water to penetrate the foundation. As water seeps through these cracks, they become even wider.
Therefore, if you see diagonal cracks, especially those that are becoming wider, you should consult a professional foundation repair company to avert any further damage to your building.
3. Stair Step Cracks
Stair step cracks are a combination of diagonal and vertical cracks. They are referred to as stair-step because they take the form of a staircase. These cracks appear diagonally and are clearly visible along mortar joints. Like diagonal cracks, stair step cracks are also caused by the non-uniform settling of the foundation.
You should consult a professional foundation repair company when you see stair step cracks. The technicians will determine whether the cracks simply need to be filled or there is a structural issue that needs to be addressed.
4. Horizontal Cracks
Horizontal cracks occur due to lateral pressure exerted on the foundation. This can be a result of hydrostatic pressure, frost heave, large roots, or other occurrences. These cracks indicate a severe structural problem and may be associated with other issues, such as foundation wall bowing. You should contact a foundation repair contractor immediately if you see horizontal foundation cracks.
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