Most Common Causes Of Foundation Cracks

Last updated 5 months ago

Foundation cracks occur for a multitude of reasons, from poor foundation construction, standing water, inadequate drainage system, type of soil, flooding, plumbing leaks, evaporation, soil condition, large trees and improper soil compaction.

Poor foundation construction - Using the right materials during foundation construction is important to prevent foundation problems. If quality building materials are not used, the entire foundation is compromised and could fail.

Construction - Soil Condition - Soil testing is always recommended before building a home. Most homes in the U.S. are built in areas where some clay content is found and in most cases, there is a large amount of clay in the soil resulting in seasonal movement. Soil compaction is also vital in preventing foundation cracks. The uppermost layer of the soil provides the bearing capacity for a stable foundation. Failure to compact the soil during the grading process will subject the foundation to settlement as the supporting soil consolidates. 

Expansive, Heaving or Consolidating Soil - The type of soil your house was built on affects the stability of your foundation. When moisture levels in the soil are too high, the clay soil expands, causing upheaval and pushing your foundation in an upward direction. When the soil is too dry, the soil settles, pulling away from your foundation when it dries out.

Flood - Too much water can also cause foundation cracks. Water intrusion is possible during periods of heavy downpour from a storm or when snow melts in the spring. An adequate drainage system is needed.

Plumbing Leaks - Oftentimes water from plumbing leaks can cause significant foundation problems. Even a small leak left unnoticed can cause the foundation to move or shift. 

Gutters & Downspouts - Gutters need to be clean from leaves and downspouts have to be pointed away from your home. Checking the gutters regularly also helps to make sure there are no clogs or leaks that might cause the water to overflow near the foundation. 

Inadequate Drainage System - Improper drainage is one of the leading causes of foundation failure. Water leaking into your basement or crawl space may lead your foundation to shift. Oftentimes the problem is unnoticed until cracks start to develop. The foundation will continue to shift until it is fixed.

Evaporation - Hot weather and a dry wind can dry out the soil, causing settling and soil sinking. When this happens, cracks in the foundation may appear throughout the structure.

Large trees - Growing a large tree next to your house may look good, but may not be a good idea. When the roots extend under or next to your foundation, the moisture in the soil that actually keeps the soil stable will be taken away by the tree since it consumes water regularly especially during drought.

Foundation Systems of Michigan provides proven, warrantied methods for repairing cracks in foundation walls.

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