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What the Cracks in Your Foundation and Walls Mean

clock October 22, 2013 11:23 by author
Homes with or without basements can develop wall cracks due to foundation issues. Contact a professional so they can determine if you need foundation repairs.

Common Foundation Cracks

Whether or not you have a basement, your home could be in danger of developing foundation or wall cracks. If your home is sinking or settling, you may find that cracks are beginning to form in the foundation. A sinking or settling foundation could cause cracks to form in the basement walls. Sometimes, voids form beneath your foundation, removing support from that part of the foundation and putting pressure on it. This causes the foundation to shift and crack. These voids often occur if the soil beneath the foundation was not properly compacted during construction of your home. They can also be formed by erosion or soil shrinkage in drought conditions. Soil expansion due to excess water can also cause cracks, as the more water the soil absorbs, the more the hydrostatic pressure builds up and puts stress on the foundation.

Foundation Crack Solutions, Wall Cracks, Foundation CracksNormally, cracks in your slab foundations indicate a settling or sinking foundation. If this is the case, the best solution is to use foundation underpinning methods to raise the foundation back to it's original position. The most common types of underpinning are done with steel push piers or helical piers. Both types of piers work in much the same way; they are driven into stable soil deep in the ground and the weight of the structure is transferred onto them. The main difference between these two types of piers is that while steel push piers are merely driven into the ground, helical piers are screwed in to provide a bit of extra stability. Other methods to fix slab cracks could be to fill the voids beneath the foundation by pressure grouting. This will stabilize your foundation and prevent more cracks from forming. If these methods do not completely close the cracks in your foundation, they can be filled or sealed with an epoxy or polyurethane grout.

Basement Wall Crack Repair Options

Basement wall cracks can also be a symptom of foundation failure. There are many different types of wall cracks, and different types indicate different foundation problems, usually bowing walls or settling foundations. Bowing walls are usually caused either by a settling foundation (especially if they are bowing outward), or by excess pressure from the soil around them. They can be fixed with the use of plate anchors or helical tiebacks, which provide lateral counter-pressure for bowing wall. If you find a wall crack in your basement walls, identify what type it is and contact a foundation repair contractor immediately to discuss repair options. The following list describes a variety of wall cracks and what they might mean.

  • Vertical - Settlement or Heaving
  • Horizontal - Bowing
  • Angled - Settlement
  • Angled and Horizontal - Bowing
  • Horizontal and Vertical - Bowing or Settlement
  • Converging in Center - Bowing or Settlement
  • Stair Step(usually in block or brick walls) - Settlement or Heaving
  • Wider at the Top - Side Settlement
  • Wider at the Bottom - Center Settlement

Cracks in your foundation or basement walls are an indication of serious foundation issues and should not be ignored. If you find a crack in your foundation, it could mean that your foundation is settling and needs to be repaired as soon as possible. Cracks in your basement walls most likely mean that you are suffering from either a sinking foundation or bowing walls. My Foundation Repairs can help connect you to a professional foundation repair contractor in your area.


What is a Concrete Crack?

clock January 4, 2011 15:41 by author blogadmin
Foundation experts can visual evaluate foundation and concrete cracks that are formed by settlement, heaving, bowing and other forces.

There are 3 guarantees in the concrete business:

1. It will get hard
2. It will not be stolen once is gets hard
3. It will crack

While there is not a negative in the first two guarantees of concrete, the third often becomes a source of concern and to many contractors, a source of revenue. The evaluation and repair of these cracks is an art and a science. Experience and visual evaluation is the art of crack investigation that guides foundation experts towards a solution to repair. The science of crack evaluation requires proof and documentation to support the art.

Once a foundation crack has been identified to be caused by settlement, heaving, bowing or other force, the next step is to determine whether the crack is getting larger or if it has stopped. The seasons of the year will dictate part of this as will obvious changes in overall moisture content of the surrounding soils. If you are in an extended dry or wet period (over one year) or if an outside influence has changed (water pipe leaking). Determining the progression of the foundation crack is the job of a crack monitor.

Crack monitors are devices that give a recording of movement relative to each side of a visual crack. Crack gauges determine the size of a crack. The evaluation criterion for IBC and IRC is a gap of .064". This means that if the crack is smaller than .064" the crack will not allow water to penetrate and does not cause concern for the overall stability of the structure at the present time. If the crack larger and/or has ruptured the foundation, a cause for concern is viable and the evaluation and monitoring is necessary. Rupture is defined as a crack that has penetrated both sides of a foundation element. Crack monitors evaluate the movement across a crack or rupture over a period of time to help determine the nature of structural problems.

Crack Monitors consist of two overlapping acrylic plates. One plate is marked with a millimeter grid, the other with cross hairs centered over the grid. Once installed, any movement can be easily seen and then recorded on the Crack Progress Chart provided with each monitor. Crack Monitors can be used to determine whether existing cracks are stable or still experiencing movement with a record of this movement to substantiate methods of repairs. The structures owner can be assured, with proof of movement, before repairs or proof of non-movement after a repair has been completed. The proof of non-movement can be critical to dispel visual or mental suspicions that unfounded.



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