What Do The Cracks In Your Foundation Mean

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Group Ottawa

There are no perfect home. Houses have cracks whether they are old or new. Houses shift and settle into position after construction. Houses will have cracks in either the look of the finish or  are more serious to the structural components. Most of these cracks have no structural significance. 

Types Of Foundation Cracks: 
Shrinkage Cracks

A newly poured, concrete foundation may contain small cracks because concrete shrinks as it cures. Fortunately, a shrinkage crack in a foundation wall is not structurally significant. How to recognize a shrinkage crack in a poured, concrete foundation:

  • The crack will be small, less than 1/8th of an inch wide.
  • The crack will be vertical.
  • The crack will not extend up through the structure. The crack is in the foundation only.
  • Shrinkage cracks usually occur in the middle third of the length of the foundation wall. If the crack is located towards the end of the length of the foundation wall, it’s probably not a shrinkage crack.

Horizontal Cracks In a Basement Foundation Wall
Concrete foundation walls in a house with a basement;  A below-grade, horizontal crack in a foundation wall, which runs the length of the basement, is likely to be a sign that the foundation is failing under the weight of the surrounding soil. The soil outside the foundation walls exerts an enormous pressure on all the foundation walls. Foundation walls are designed to be strong enough to resist this load. Occasionally, unanticipated, additional loads exert pressure and the foundation begins to fail, resulting in a horizontal crack in the foundation wall.

Settlement Cracks
Foundation settlement cracks are vertical, extending up through the structure. For a brick home, you may see cracks following the mortar joints in the brick wall. In most cases, the settlement crack itself has no structural significance; the concern is that the house may continue to settle over time.

Settlement Crack Size
A larger settlement crack is more likely to be due to ongoing movement than a smaller settlement crack is. While there are no hard and fast rules, a settlement crack or series of settlement cracks that have a sum total opening of less than 1/4 inch are probably not because of ongoing settlement.

Direction of Movement
A typical settlement crack is vertical, starting from where the crack opens up. The bumps and crevices line up and fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. If the crack face has moved in any other direction, such as a shear crack, the quarter-inch rule described above does not apply. This can be a significant structural concern.

Repaired and Re-cracked
A settlement crack that has been repaired and has re-cracked (not just a hairline crack) could also indicate ongoing movement.

By taking a proactive approach to structural changes, including concrete wall and floor cracks, you may be able to avoid major repair work.  If you are concerned it's time to call in the experts. Have a professional foundation company visit your home before it gets worse. 

Posted by

Irene Bilinski, ASA
Bilingual Sales Representative

RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Group Ottawa

Direct (613) 858-1151
Office (613) 590-3000


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William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

This is a good starting guide to cracks. Many times even larger ones we really no big deal

Feb 02, 2018 10:47 AM #1
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

This is something that homeowners can't afford to ignore. Figuring out the cause sooner rather than later can save homeowners alot of grief & expense if diagnosed quickly.

Feb 02, 2018 12:00 PM #2
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