Why is Your House Foundation Cracking? (Professional Advice)

April 28, 2021

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If you’re a homeowner asking, why is my house foundation cracking, the good news is that most hairline cracks in foundations are not unusual and don’t always need repairs! It’s also helpful to note that foundation repair is often more affordable than homeowners might realize, and high-quality fixes should last for years if not decades.

The most common reason for house foundation cracking is excess moisture. As concrete absorbs moisture, it softens and then cracks. A house foundation might also crack due to age, low-quality materials or installation methods, added weight on the foundation, or poor soil conditions.

While tiny cracks are normal and don’t necessarily need repairs, note that a damaged foundation allows a home to settle and shift, leading to interior and exterior wall and ceiling cracks, roof and plumbing damage, wood rot, mold growth, and collapsed walls in extreme cases! Timely repairs, as well as preventative services such as waterproofing and property grading, can help prevent cracks and keep the foundation strong and secure.

cracked house foundation

To ensure you’re always keeping your home’s foundation in good condition, check out some added information about foundation cracks including their cause and how to stop them from getting worse! It’s also helpful to know a few signs of a bad foundation or developing foundation damage, so you can discuss your repair options with a contractor as needed.

Why Is My House Foundation Cracking?

To give you a better idea of when it’s time to schedule foundation repairs, note a few added details about why a house foundation might start showing cracks and when those cracks are serious and need repairs:

  • Overly moist soil is the most common cause of foundation cracking. When it rains or if your property is prone to poor drainage, the soil expands, putting pressure on your home’s foundation. If this problem is addressed properly, that foundation will soon crack, chip, or spall.
  • Foundation cracks let moisture into the concrete so that it then weakens even more. The longer you put off foundation repair and the larger those cracks, the more risk of added cracking, chipping, and spalling.
  • Fresh concrete takes up to a year to set and cure completely. As it does, it shrinks slightly, creating minor cracks. If your foundation was poured a year or so ago, expect to see some minor cracks forming.
  • Freeze-thaw cycles also put pressure on the concrete. As soil freezes, it expands; as it thaws, it shrinks. Concrete then contracts and expands with it, leading to cracks.
  • Poor-quality foundation materials and installation techniques can increase the risk of cracking over time.
  • Added weight to the home puts pressure on the foundation, leading to cracks and other damage. This weight can come from installing a new roofing layer without removing existing shingles, new stone floors or countertops, an extra story or addition to the home, and other such features.
  • Over time, even the highest-quality foundation material will break down, leading to cracks and other deterioration. The older your home’s foundation, the more likely it is to start showing cracks!
  • Foundation concrete needs solid soil for support. Overly sandy soil or soil that isn’t compacted properly, or soil erosion, can mean a foundation without needed support so that it begins to crack and chip.

When Should I Be Worried About Foundation Cracks?

Minor, vertical cracks in a freshly poured concrete foundation is not unusual and rarely need repairs. However, longer horizontal cracks and especially those that look like stair steps are typically more serious and should be patched or otherwise repaired quickly.

house foundation cracking

It’s also vital that homeowners call a foundation repair contractor for leaning or bowing walls, or if you notice signs of foundation damage along other surfaces such as walls and ceilings. Chips and spalling also indicate severe foundation damage and the need for immediate repairs.

Signs of a Bad Foundation

checking foundation for cracks

Cracks and chips along a foundation surface are not the only signs that your home’s foundation is damaged and needs repairs! Knowing the signs of a bad foundation both inside and outside your home allows you to schedule timely fixes, preventing damage from getting worse. Check out a few of those signs here and call a repair contractor if you notice any in your home:

  • Interior and exterior wall cracks and ceiling cracks typically indicate that a home’s foundation is weak and damaged, allowing a home to sink and settle. As the home sinks, it typically pulls on those surfaces, creating cracks.
  • This settling and pulling process can also mean roof cracks, torn shingles, and split roofing tiles.
  • As plumbing pipes and connectors get pulled out of position, you might notice water leaks and clogs, or low water pressure.
  • That settling and sinking also means less support for a chimney stack. If you notice your home’s chimney leaning or see cracks and crumbling bricks along its surface, this can indicate a damaged foundation!
  • A settling home means uneven door frames and window frames, so that doors and windows stick and become difficult to lock properly. Doors might also hang open.
  • Foundation cracks let moisture into a home, often resulting in stagnant water in the basement, wood rot, and mold growth.
  • In extreme cases, you might notice gaps forming in corners of rooms where wall sections pull away from each other, popped drywall nails, and trim work pulling away from the walls.

How Can You Tell If a Crack Is Structural?

Horizontal foundation cracks are almost always structural whereas vertical cracks might not be a concern. If you notice a vertical crack along an interior wall, this can indicate poor-quality drywall, water damage, incorrect drywall installation, or other such causes. Replacing that drywall panel can sometimes be sufficient for correcting this issue, as long as you continue to monitor the wall for future cracks.

foundation cracked needing repair

If you notice horizontal cracks along walls, or cracks along the ceiling that also run down the wall, this can indicate structural damage. Bowing, leaning, bulging, or otherwise misshapen walls also typically indicate a structural crack or weakening. Call a foundation repair contractor as soon as possible if you notice any such damage in your home!

How Do I Stop My Foundation From Cracking?

Homeowners can prevent most foundation cracks and ensure their home’s foundation stays strong over the years with a few preventative measures. Check out some simple suggestions and then talk to a foundation repair contractor near you for even more tips on how to ensure your home’s foundation is always strong and stable!

  • Since excess moisture is a common cause of foundation damage, keep the foundation dry by ensuring your property is graded or sloped properly, toward the street or a nearby drain. If needed, invest in a French drain installation, to direct excess moisture away from the home.
  • Clogged gutters allow rainwater to wash over their sides and then pool around the home’s foundation, leading to cracks and other damage. Keep gutters clean throughout the year to avoid this risk.
  • Have your property’s soil tested for proper compaction and composition, especially if you’ve aerated the soil or if there has been recent excavation nearby.
  • Waterproofing is also an excellent protective measure for your home’s foundation. Invest in basement or slab foundation waterproofing or crawl space encapsulation as needed, to prevent excess moisture and water damage along the home’s foundation.
  • Regular foundation inspections also spot developing damage and allow you to patch up small cracks before they become severe.

Fixing a Cracked Home Foundation

repairing a cracked foundation

If you know that your home’s foundation is cracked or damaged, the good news is that there are many options for fixing those cracks and ensuring a strong, stable foundation even if your home has begun to sink and settle! Epoxy injections are an affordable, quick solution for minor cracks. This epoxy expands inside cracks and then dries and hardens, keeps the cracks from growing and blocking moisture.

Steel and helical piers are used for more severe cracks. These piers are inserted into the ground around damaged concrete; the piers have brackets that attach to the foundation concrete, lifting it back into place and keeping it strong and supported. Piers usually last for decades if not the life of your home, making them an excellent investment in foundation repair.

House leveling or slab jacking is used for sunken or settling homes. House leveling starts with a specialty injection under the sunken foundation. Hydraulic equipment then lifts the home in position, and that injected material dries and expands. Once dry, it holds the foundation in position and provides added support.

A damaged foundation can also result in bowing basement walls; as those walls absorb moisture, the concrete expands, causing the walls to lean or swell. A foundation repair contractor will typically use specialty straps across the walls, pushing them back into place and preventing expansion.

contractors working on cracked foundation

The Woodlands Foundation Repair Pros is happy to bring this information to our readers and we hope it helped answer the question, why is my house foundation cracking? If you need foundation repair or waterproofing services, give us a call! Our foundation repair contractors in The Woodlands ensure fast, efficient repairs that last, and we stand behind all our work with a full guarantee. To find out more, give us a call today!

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