Dealing With Vertical Cracks in Foundations

Many people put a lot of work into making their homes comfortable and cozy these days and it can cost an awful lot of money. Much more goes into the average home than ever before in terms of renovation and DIY, but many homeowners overlook the little things that can cause damage to the very structure of the home that they have worked so long and so hard on. Vertical cracks in the foundation of your home, for example, can cause major problems for you over time.

Any problem that is related to the foundations of your home can cause damage to the structure itself, such as weakening of the walls, rising damp and basement flooding to name a few. However, if you deal with vertical cracks to the foundations as and when they arise then you can avoid any issue later on.

The Problems

There are six types of vertical cracks in foundations. They are all very different and vary in the degree of risk they pose to your house. They are as follows:

    • Cracks in the masonry between two buildings – A low risk crack that is often to be found if there has been a building extension, such as a garage. This is caused by the settlement of the second building.

    • Cracks in poured concrete – Again, a low risk crack that has been caused by thermal currents or shrinkage.

    • Straight cracks through a masonry block wall - Usually to be found in mortar joints but can also be found to go through the wall. The latter is a moderate risk and the former a low risk. This is usually caused by shrinkage.

    • Brick cracks that are straight or stepped – This is generally caused by expansion over time but is a high risk and can cause the collapse of your home if the bond are broken.

    • Foundation wall cracks that are of uniform width – As this implies that the footing is broken, this poses a major risk that cannot be ignore and must be dealt with as soon as possible.

    • Foundation wall cracks that are wide at the bottom – This is a symptom of settlement of the building and vary is severity. For example, if in a masonry wall, the threat to the building may be quite low, but in a brick wall the risk is quite high.

The Solutions

For the more serious vertical cracks in foundation walls, you should always consult an expert because it is wholly possible that you will do more harm than good. After all, you could cause your house to fall down! However, there are DIY tricks that you can use yourself to sort out the low risk cracks.

For example, you could use grout pumping in cases where the soil has shifted below your foundations and caused cracks in foundation walls and floors. The pumping will literally lift the floor and even out the foundations to repair existing damage and prevent further damage from occurring.

You could also undertake slab jacking if the bedrock or stable soils are at a deeper level below the foundations. It may just be that poor site planning, inadequate drainage or settling has caused the imbalance. Again, it serves to stabilize the soil and resettle your home. If the cracks are more serious though, call in the experts because your home is too precious to risk a DIY job when reconstruction is necessary.