Cracks in Foundations When to Be Concerned

Foundations offer support and overall stability of a home. It is said a home is only as sound as the foundation it is built upon, so when homeowners see cracks in their foundations they may worry about the structural integrity of their home.


Some types of foundation cracks do not pose concern, while other types should signal cause for concern. In this article we’ll discuss the different types of foundation cracks.

Differences between vertical, horizontal and diagonal cracks in the foundation

1) Vertical & Horizontal Cracks that are caused by the concrete drying and normal shrinkage of the concrete due to aging are typical and should not be of concern. However, if vertical or horizontal cracks change over time lengthening and become wider as the crack progresses this is cause for concern as you may have what is referred to as a sheared crack. The telltale characteristic of a sheared crack is one side/section of the crack will protrude out further than the other. If you were to rub your hand over the top of the crack you would feel a lip.

2) Diagonal Cracks or angled cracks are most commonly found in the corners of foundations. These cracks represent settlement of the foundation moving downward and this is a cause for concern.

Causes of cracks in foundations

A homes foundation is poured on compacted soil which is referred to as bedrock; in the mid-west (Missouri and Kansas) the bedrock consists mostly of clay. During the summer months, the clay will shrink, leaving the foundation with little to no support. The lack of support causes stress on the foundation which causes the foundation to shift and crack over time.

During dry months or drought it is important to water your foundation with a soaker hose and run it every night for about 20-30 minutes.

If there is an obvious gap between your foundation and the surrounding soil contact InspectorNick.com. We can help you determine whether or not it would be wise to schedule a certified inspector to come out and provide a thorough evaluation your foundation.

Wet and rainy seasons can also cause stress to foundations. When the clay is overly saturated, after heavy rainfall or flooding, it will expand creating pressure that pushes the foundation inward. Foundation walls that are leaning inward again are cause for concern and should be evaluated by a certified inspector.

Do cracks above your windows or doors mean your foundation is settling?

It is a misconception that foundation damage only occurs in the homes foundation. When there is added stress on the foundation, other elements of the home start to shift. A trained home inspector will look for signs of foundation settlement near window frames, door jams, around the eaves of the roof, and other locations known to show the signs of a stressed or settling foundation.

Should I have an engineer look at my foundation?

It is recommended to have a home inspector do an initial inspection before hiring a specialist/engineer.

Foundation engineers focus only on the foundation; whereas a home inspector evaluates the entire home. InspectorNick.com knows that multiple problems in a home are often related. For example, the pitch of a roof can affect the efficiency of guttering and downspouts, guttering and downspouts can affect the foundation and of course the structural integrity of the foundation can affect the entire house. One problem area in a home will most likely create additional ones.

Buying or Selling a Home?

It is extremely beneficial to have a pre-home inspection performed before you place your home on the market. You will be made aware of any problems and can decide if it is in your best interest to fix the problems prior to listing your home.

The same holds true for home buyers. A foundation inspection is critical before buying a home!

For a foundation inspection/evaluation please contact InspectorNick.com

InspectorNick.com offers a variety of home inspection packages.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 816-347-8955.

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