Have you noticed any small cracks in your foundation? In many cases, these minor signs are a normal result of shifting soil, shrubs, or trees under your house. They can also be attributed to the normal settling of the home’s structure.
Other times, they could point to bigger problems lurking up in your crawl space. That’s why it pays to understand the anatomy of the cracking’s cause before you shrug them off.
Not sure when to call a foundation repair expert? Read on to learn about the key factors that affect cracks in home foundations.
When Is a Foundation Crack Serious?
Non-structural cracks aren’t as serious as structural cracks. This is because structural cracks are caused by the foundation moving in some fashion.
If structural cracks aren’t repaired, they can adversely affect the integrity of the building involved.
Non-structural cracks, on the other hand, don’t affect the structural integrity of the house and are nothing to worry about. It could be because of concrete shrinkage or some other benign reason.
Some signs will warn you that you are dealing with a structural crack. And that you need to start worrying about your home and call in an expert for a foundation crack repair.
The signs are:
- You see cracks getting bigger over time
- Cracks that are wider than 1/10th inches
- Cracks that are wider at one end
- Big, diagonal cracks
- Cracks that appear like staircases in brickwork
- Horizontal foundation cracks, with or without bowing
- Cracks that go across the ceiling and then down the wall
- Several cracks vertically next to each other
If you see any of these dubious cracks, it’s time for you to call in an expert without delay!
How Is a Serious Foundation Crack Repaired?
There are many ways in which a serious foundation crack can get repaired. None of this is a DIY kind of job. You will need to call a foundation expert to get this done.
You can underpin the foundation by anchoring it to the soil that supports it. You would firmly anchor the foundation to the soil and then use hydraulic jacks to lift it back up. This will fix the differential settlement issue and allow the cracks to close.
You could use the following four methods to underpin the foundation.
When you use push piers or resistance piers, you would drive them deep into the load-bearing soil. Then use hydraulic jacks to lift the building.
Drilled Concrete Piers
If you have a home that’s on a slope, then you can use drilled concrete piers to fix foundation cracks. These get drilled into the load-bearing soil and stop lateral foundation movement.
When the home is built on slab rather than soil, then you will have to dig through the slab until you reach load-bearing soil. You can use slab piers to do this – you would drill holes in the slab and then push the piers through these holes.
These piers look like giant screws which is why they are named helical. They are turned like screws in the soil until they reach the load-bearing soil. Same as with the others, the hydraulic jack is then used to lift the building back up.
How Can You Prevent Foundation Cracks?
Of course, the best way to prevent all this additional cost is to prevent foundation cracks from occurring in the first place. You can do this through the following methods.
Clean Gutters Regularly
There’s a reason why home improvement blogs and experts are always admonishing homeowners to clean their gutters regularly. This isn’t just an aesthetic thing. It’s necessary to prevent water from overflowing and going into the ground through the side of the house, causing harm to your foundation.
Install Downspout Extensions
Another thing you could do to prevent water from getting dumped right next to your foundation is to install an extension to your short and stumpy downspout. This is a cheap and easy installation and will channel water away from your foundation protecting it from water damage.
Regrade Your Yard
Does your yard slope away from your foundation and home? If it doesn’t, this is a good way to prevent water from slopping down to your foundation. It’s an easy DIY project for you to undertake or you can hire a landscaper to do it for you for cheap.
Install Exterior and Interior Drain Tiles
An exterior drain tile is a perimeter drain that gets installed around the outside of your foundation. This is at the footer level. This will ensure any excess water gets channeled away from your foundation.
An interior drain tile does almost the same thing, ensuring the soil under the foundation doesn’t get excess water coming its way. It moves this excess water away from the foundation, keeping it safe from water damage and thus foundation hairline cracks.
Install a Bubbler Pot
Another way to move water away from your foundation is to install bubbler pots that will gather water from a downspout into an underground pipe. When the pot fills with water, the lid pops up and the water is redirected somewhere far away from your foundation.
A Foundation Crack Is Nothing to Sneeze At
Not all cracks in your home’s structure are built equally, but a foundation crack isn’t something you can ignore and pretend like it will go away after a while.
As soon as you see any of the foundation cracks mentioned above, you will want to act fast. Time is of the essence when protecting your home’s foundation from further damage.
Contact an expert and get them to do some foundation crack repair asap.
Also, read through related articles on our website on other home-related topics. This will ensure you stay on top of your duties as a homeowner.