Many home inspectors say that it is not the length of a foundation crack that determines if you need to be concerned but the width. Any foundation crack that measures a quarter of an inch in width should warrant worry and possibly require professional foundation repair by a masonry specialist.
Concrete Crack Sealer
All concrete is notorious for cracking, but generally, only hairline cracks appear over time and do not develop significantly wide gaps. If a wide gap should suddenly materialize in a crack, you can have it immediately evaluated by a professional, or you can fill it with a sealant such grout or a concrete crack sealer. The sealer will effectively keep moisture from entering the crack and give you a chance to visually monitor the trouble spot. If the sealer starts to break apart as the crack expands then its time to call a professional. Generally, if a crack that has been patched opens up again then there is more than likely a settlement issue with the home’s foundation.
Settling…What Is It? And Why Does It Happen?
Foundation settling occurs for a variety of reasons. If the house is a relatively new construction home, the building site may not have been properly prepared prior to construction. As a house ages, a home starts to naturally sink into the soil. Natural soil expansion and contraction cause a home’s foundation to shift. The American Society of Civil Engineers has found that about one-quarter of all American homes are affected by soil expansion which causes foundation problems.
Excessive rain or flooding, will also cause the soil around the home to undergo shifting and expansion which causes foundation cracking. After Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, many of the state’s homes developed foundation cracking from the excessive flooding. The cracks frequently did not materialize over night, but over the course of two years as the soil dried and shifted, many foundations started to develop cracks.
If your home is undergoing foundation changes that could affect its overall integrity, there are certain warning signs you can watch for that might alert you to a serious problem.
- Cracks in the Walls — Any type of jagged crack in the home’s interior drywall that runs at a forty-five-degree angle is a sign of foundation settlement.
- Sticking Windows and Doors — If your doors or windows have started to stick when you try to open or close them then there might be a foundation problem developing.
- Stair Step Cracks in Brick or Concrete block — A brick or concrete block home often develops stair step cracks between the bricks in the mortar. Stair step cracks can occur for a variety of reasons, but they might also be a symptom of a failing or damaged foundation.
- Cracking Under Windows — Cracks or gaps that develop under a window’s frame and are visible from outside could be caused from a foundation issue.
- Horizontal Foundation Cracks — Horizontal foundation cracks frequently indicate hydrostatic pressure or water pressure building up behind the foundation. Usually, a horizontal crack in a foundation that is wide is more cause for alarm than vertical cracking. In some cases, a horizontal crack indicates that the home’s the wall might be buckling from outside soil pressure.
Your home is one of the biggest investment of your life and any problem with the house’s masonry is a cause for alarm. You will want to call a foundation repair contractor to determine what is causing the foundation cracks and offer advice on possible repairs to maintain the home’s integrity.
At A1 Everlast, our foundation repair contractors will be glad to meet with you to discuss any foundations concerns that you might have and to evaluate your foundation. We offer free estimates in Bergen, Passaic, Union, Essex, Morris, and Hudson counties in northern New Jersey. Please contact us today to learn about our many services.