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Are All Foundation Cracks a Serious Problem?

Foundation cracks can be good or bad. Find out how to tell the difference between a dangerous and benign foundation crack.

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You may have recently noticed a crack in your foundation wall. Before you start to worry, it’s important to note that not all cracks indicate that your home is no longer structurally sound. However, that does not mean you should do nothing about them. If a structural issue is indeed causing your foundation walls to crack, you should act sooner than later. 

If you recently moved into a newly built home, it may be perfectly normal to find a hairline crack or two on your basement walls. These cracks form as the result of concrete shrinking during the curing process. You may be wondering at this point what constitutes a hairline crack. Basically, if a crack is not big enough for a business card to slide through, you’re OK. Keep an eye on it going forward, and if you want to be 100 percent sure your foundation and home are healthy and safe, call in a specialist from FSM. 

Although foundation wall cracks are very visible, to truly tell if they are a problem, you should look into other potential symptoms associated with foundation settlement. These include, but are not limited to, sticking doors and windows, gapping ceilings, or sagging floors. Moreover, if you notice any of these issues but are not seeing any foundation cracks, it is still a good idea to call an expert in for an inspection. You should be doing regular professional inspections anyway, so if you notice any cracks, consider moving up your scheduled inspection. 

foundation issues

Do Cracks Always Indicate Foundation Issues? 

No, not all cracks indicate serious foundation problems. However, foundation issues are no joke, particularly in areas prone to flooding like Traverse City, MI, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Some cracks are benign, as we mentioned above. However, these hairline cracks may expand over time, at which point you will want to investigate the deeper causes. 

Another thing you want to keep an eye out for is whether the crack in question is vertical or horizontal. Interestingly enough, vertical cracks are less of an indication of serious structural problems than horizontal ones. If the crack you noticed in your basement is horizontal, you may be looking at serious foundation issues originating in the soil underneath or next to your home. The horizontal crack may be indicating that the soil beneath your home was not properly prepared before the foundation was poured or that tree roots are putting pressure on the foundation of your home. 

When Is It Time to Worry? 

How do you know when a crack is problematic or indicating the existence of deeper structural issues? A key indicator is the width of the crack or whether it has recently expanded. Any crack or gap that is more than three-quarters of an inch thick is cause for alarm. Like we said above, consider whether the crack is vertical or horizontal. Either way, act quickly. 

The following are some additional signs that you may need to investigate the causes of your basement crack: 

  • Misaligned windows and doors 
  • Bowing walls 
  • Drywall cracks 
  • Large, jagged cracks 
  • Sagging, uneven floors 
  • Tile and brickwork cracks 

Repairing Foundation Cracks 

What’s the best way to deal with a foundation crack? This is a complicated question and one with no single answer. That is because the types of cracks your home may experience are many and the solution to each depends on additional variables and underlying causes. 

Think about it like this: Can your car mechanic tell you what’s wrong with your car and how to fix it over the phone? Probably not. They will need to see the car in person and consider possible solutions in the context of both your vehicle and budget and only after they’ve run some diagnostics. To understand which basement wall crack solution will work best for your home, a foundation repair expert will need to do the same. 

The following is a list of trusted foundation repair solutions

Push piers: This solution is best for homes built on poorly compacted soil, but it can be implemented under pretty much any structure. Push piers are driven deep into the soil until they reach the bedrock. At that point, they are secured in place to permanently stabilize your home. They also have the potential to lift the foundation back toward its original position. 

Helical piers: This solution works well for lighter homes and structures in Traverse City, MI, as the piers are driven in below the frost line. These piers are “screwed into the ground,” and they also work to stabilize the sunken foundation and can potentially lift the home back to its original place. 

Slab piers: As the name suggests, this piering solution was created with concrete slab foundation homes in mind. To prevent the foundation from sinking, slab pier technology is utilized to stabilize the foundation and possibly lift it. 

Crawl space support jacks: This system takes advantage of durable crawl space supports and is our #1 choice for stabilizing and potentially lifting floors and floor joists. This solution works wonders to prevent sagging or uneven floors. 

Wall anchors: This is a solution for issues caused by hydrostatic pressure, including bowing or bulging basement walls. 

Wall brace system: Our specialized wall brace system is a durable solution for cracking and bowing walls when wall anchors cannot be used. Like wall anchors, these beams can be tightened to help improve the walls’ condition over time. 

Don’t wait for your foundation crack to expand. Contact FSM today to schedule a free foundation inspection and repair estimate.

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