Which Sort of Basement Cracks Indicate Structural Problems?
Discovering a crack in a basement wall can be scary for a homeowner. Cracks are unsightly and can leave your home vulnerable to further damage from pests or moisture. Even worse, just a small crack in the wall of your basement can indicate severe structural damage to your home.
Many homeowners will look for a way fix a basement crack themselves, but if the crack is a symptom of a larger structural issue, another one will likely appear before long. So before you patch a crack in your basement wall, you want to be sure it isn’t one of these foundation cracks.
Vertical Basement Cracks
Vertical and diagonal cracks in a wall are often caused by the shrinkage of building materials. Hairline vertical cracks are common around control joints of poured concrete walls, and can sometimes be a simple cosmetic issue. If a vertical crack is wider than 1/16” tapered (wider at either the top or bottom of the crack), or the wall shifts at the site of the crack, then you have a serious problem on you hands. These cracks can be caused by poor drainage beneath the foundation, heaving of the foundation or foundation settlement. If that is the case, you need to seek the help of a professional at once.
Stair Step Basement Cracks
Stair step cracks follow the mortar of brick or concrete block walls and are definite cause for concern. Typically associated with foundation settlement, upheaval or a damaged footer, step cracks mean that the stability of your foundation has been compromised and needs attention from a professional. If you have a stair step crack in your basement, contact an expert as soon as possible for a full evaluation and repair plan.
Horizontal Basement Cracks
If you see horizontal cracks in the walls of your basement, seek the help of a foundation expert immediately. Horizontal cracks are most likely the result of wall displacement, which is often caused by soil pushing on the exterior of the wall, which causes the wall to bow inward. These cracks indicate that the wall is structurally compromised, and is at risk of collapse.
You Found a Crack in Your Basement, Now What?
Cracks in the walls of your basement don’t always mean major structural damage to your foundation. There are some cracks that only require a cosmetic fix, which many homeowners are capable of repairing. But without an expert’s advise, you may not be able to identify the root cause of your basement crack, and risk further damage by not addressing it. If you notice a new crack in your basement, changes in the width or length of an existing crack or one of the cracks detailed above, contact your local CHANCE Certified contractor at once.