This time of year when the Spring rains start to fall the cracks in your basement walls can start to show water seepage and intrusion. Here are some quick tips on reading your foundation cracks based on the direction of the crack.
Reading Foundation Cracks
As concrete cures, it shrinks slightly. Where the concrete can’t shrink evenly, it tends to crack. Concrete and block foundations usually have at least a few cracks. The trick is recognizing which are insignificant and which are serious. Here’s a list from least to most serious:
Concrete Hairline Cracks
As mentioned, concrete shrinks and many times during this time or within a few years, hairline crack will begin to form. This is to be expected. Hairline cracks in the mortar between concrete blocks are rarely worth worrying about.
L Shape Cracks
Cracks at an L-shape section, such as where a foundation steps down to follow a hillside, are probably shrinkage cracks, especially if they meander and taper down to a hairline. These aren’t a structural issue, though you might need to plug them to keep the basement or crawl space dry.
Stair – Step Cracks
Stair-step cracks in masonry joints are a bigger concern, especially if the wall is bulging or the crack is wider than ¼ inch. A plugged gutter or other moisture problem outside is probably exerting pressure on that part of the wall. Depending on the severity of the stair-stepping and its supportive nature, these cracks tend to call for interior bracing. A severe form of stair-step cracks may be recommended for a wall push back where the exterior of the home is dug out to expose the crack from the exterior and remove the soil and clay causing the issue. The interior wall can be push back and supported with braces at this time and it is recommended as long as the wall is exposed from the exterior that you waterproof that wall at the same time. This will provide a lifetime warranty on the wall which transfers with the life of the home.
Horizontal cracks are most serious. It may be that water-saturated soil froze and expanded, pushing in and breaking the foundation. Or, you may have soil that expands when damp and shrinks when dry. Horizontal cracks are the most vulnerable cracks to eventual wall movement. These cracks need to be dealt with through interior bracing and may also be recommended for exterior wall exposure, waterproofing and push back depending on severity levels.
To have any of your foundation cracks assessed, contact us at KC Pier for a free foundation home inspection and structural consultation.
About KC Pier – Foundation Repair Experts in Kansas City
KC Pier – Foundation Experts provide foundation repair and basement waterproofing in Kansas City and the surrounding metro area. KC Pier specializes in pier installation to correct foundation settlement, waterproofing leaking basements, straightening or stabilizing bowing wallsand correcting poor drainage, foundation piers, wall piering and ibeam support solutions. Office – KS 913.777.4379 // MO 816.974.7437