Cracks in the foundation of your house can be signs of problems. Now this does not mean that you should automatically worry if you see a few small cracks.
As a matter of fact, there are a few perfectly normal reasons why cracks can come up in your foundation. It is crucial to look into the issue if you notice cracks – but hold off on thinking the worst until you figure out whether there’s a problem worth worrying about.
What Causes Foundation Cracks?
There are a handful of things that can cause cracks in your foundation. In some cases, the cracks are simply caused by the settling of your home over time or soil expansion. Other possible causes of foundation cracks include:
- Drainage issues around the home
- Insufficient reinforcement to support the weight of the house
- Drastic home renovations or add-ons such as adding a second story
- Tree roots under the soil
- Earthquakes, sinkholes or landslides that have affected the area
- Deep soil freezing during the winter
As you can see from above, there are a lot of possible reasons why cracks might appear in your foundation.
Regardless of the array of possible causes, it’s crucial to not get ahead of yourself and worry over the cracks until you’ve figured out whether they actually are a severe problem or not.
Getting a Thorough Look At Foundation Cracks
The very first thing you should do when you notice cracks in your foundation is get a decent look at them and where they appear. In addition, taking photos may help with this since they’ll give you an easy-to-access reference later on. If possible, include an object of known size in the pictures to give you a sense of scale; coins, ink pens or other common objects are easy to use in this regard.
When seeking out cracks in your foundation, take note of the direction of the crack, how wide the crack is and whether it has a uniform width. If there is an obvious point where everything began (such as a crack that starts at the corner of a basement window or foundation vent) then you should take note of this as well.
If you have a crawlspace or basement beneath your home, our realtors recommend you go in and examine the foundation wall from the other side to see if the crack is visible there was well. The more information you have about the crack, the easier it will be to figure out whether there’s a problem.
Can the Crack Be A Problem?
Small, thin cracks in the foundation usually aren’t much to be concerned about; they typically form as the house and the soil beneath it settle into place.
Small cracks that appear after a bad winter should not be a big concern since they are simple to seal prior to the next bout of cold weather that comes around. There are some cracks that you need to watch out for, though.
Horizontal cracks, straight vertical cracks and cracks that are wider at one end than the other are all signs of possible problems. These can effortlessly display that the foundation is cracking due to a much larger problem than just settling or bad weather.
Our realtors highly suggest you check the depth of the crack, especially if you have a crawlspace or basement; a crack that goes all the way through the foundation wall can be very bad indeed. You should also see if there are multiple cracks forming around the same area or if any of the cracked areas correspond with cracks or other issues inside the house.
If the cracks appear as if they are recent, our real estate agents suggest you clean up the area and place marks on the wall beside the cracks. This will let you look for new debris or changes to the crack length over the next several days. Big cracks or cracks that seem to still be growing need to be repaired before they can cause significant issues.