How can you tell if a crack is structural? This is vital for homeowners to determine, as structural cracks can mean severe secondary damage inside and outside the home; the longer you ignore these cracks, the more extensive and costly they get!
Always schedule a foundation inspection for cracks in a zigzag pattern or vertical cracks that are wider at the top or bottom. Cracks large enough to insert a fingernail or coin also need immediate patching and other repairs!
Secondary damage resulting from structural foundation cracks can also alert a homeowner to needed repairs such as house leveling and underpinning. However, many homeowners overlook these telltale signs of foundation issues simply because they don’t associate them with a weak or damaged foundation.
To ensure you’re keeping your home in good repair and that it’s always safe for occupation, check out some simple tips for how to tell if a crack is structural or otherwise needs repairs. You can then discuss your concerns with a foundation repair contractor near you.
Since minor hairline cracks along concrete surfaces are normal and don’t necessarily need repairs, you might note a few tips on determining if cracks are structural and need patching or underpinning.
A homeowner might also note other damage along foundation concrete in addition to cracks, such as spalling or flaking. Rust stains can also indicate damaged rebar, which is used to keep fresh concrete in place as it cures; when that rebar is weak, it can’t support concrete as it should, often resulting in severe cracking.
Cracks along foundation concrete are not the only signs of potential structural damage. Knowing what else to look for around your property can ensure you schedule needed repairs before that damage gets more extensive and costly to address.
While cracks along walls are a common sign of foundation damage, a weak foundation is not the only reason you might see cracks developing! Poor-quality drywall installation can eventually result in nails popping from the framing and gaps forming between wall sections, as those panels pull away from the studs behind them.
Plaster walls might also crack over time simply due to the weight of the material. Plumbing leaks behind walls can also damage framing, drywall, and plaster, leading to eventual cracks and gaps. Carpenter ants and termites chewing on framing can also weaken the structure, allowing walls to sag and eventually crack.
To determine the cause of wall cracks in your home, schedule an inspection as soon as you notice cracks, popped nails, discoloration, and other damage. A plumber can find water leaks behind walls while a foundation inspector can determine if the home’s foundation is weak and needs repairs including underpinning. If you’ve eliminated these potential causes of wall cracks, you can then simply patch them or replace drywall panels as needed.
All foundation cracks should warrant an inspection by a foundation repair contractor, so you can rule out structural damage and schedule needed repairs before that damage gets more extensive. In most cases, zigzag or staircase cracks are often considered the worst, as these indicate structural settling.
Cracks wider than 1/4” are also quite serious, as these let in moisture and become an entry point for rodents, insects, and other pests. That moisture can mean mold growth behind walls and underneath the flooring, and mold spreads very quickly inside a home.
Pests are also unhealthy and bothersome and can mean costly damage. Rodents might chew through electrical wiring and insulation, while carpenter ants and termites make quick work of eating away at a home’s framing, drywall, and other materials.
Foundation cracks that show an obvious unevenness or leaning of the home also need immediate attention. Those cracks might be spread deep in the concrete, out of your immediate sight, allowing the home to settle and then sink. The longer you ignore these issues, the more damage your home will suffer, and the costlier your eventual repairs.
Horizontal concrete cracks are often the result of natural settling during the curing process; some, however, might be the result of surface damage. Whatever the cause, these cracks should be patched as quickly as possible.
Vertical cracks are usually more serious than horizontal, as they might indicate settling and resultant pulling on brick, siding, and other exterior materials. The larger those cracks, and especially if they run in a zigzag pattern between bricks or concrete blocks, the more urgent it is that you schedule needed repairs!
Every concrete crack should be examined by a foundation repair contractor, to at least rule out structural damage. Hairline cracks are no exception, but note if the concrete was poured within the last year. If so, it often takes that long for the material to cure completely; as it does, it might shrink slightly, resulting in hairline cracks.
The good news for homeowners is that foundation cracks are typically repairable, even if the home has started to settle and sink. A foundation repair contractor can note the best repair option for your property but consider some common foundation crack repair methods he or she might suggest.
Homeowners can typically sell a home needing any type of repair, including one with a cracked foundation! Some home buyers even look for “fixer-uppers” that they can buy for a reduced cost, repair on their own, and then even resell for a profit.
The only concern you might have when selling a home with a cracked foundation is ensuring you’re honest with potential buyers about damage and any repairs done to the home. In most cases, a home inspection will spot that damage but it’s vital that you don’t try to deceive buyers by covering over cracks with cosmetic materials such as paint, as this might mean legal entanglements down the road.
In some cases, a bank might not provide a mortgage on a home with a cracked foundation, unless the buyer is willing to put up other collateral for that house. If you can’t find a cash buyer for the home, you might consider investing in repairs so that you can sell your home for the price you expect.
If you have a home with a cracked foundation and are concerned about selling it, discuss your options with a real estate agent. He or she can note the best way of addressing those concerns and needed repairs while also ensuring you get as much money as possible from that sale.
Whether or not you should buy a home with any issues is a personal decision; to ensure you make the best choice for you and your family, talk to a foundation repair contractor and ensure you know all repair costs and related issues, including the risk of mold growth. You’ll want to note if the interior and exterior walls are at risk of cracks or if the home’s framing might suffer future wood rot.
Once you’ve determined all costs and risks related to those foundation repair issues, you can then decide if the home is the right fit for your family. The seller might be willing to lower their asking price to compensate for those repairs, or you might find that the home offers other attractive features that make needed foundation leak repair and other fixes worth your time and effort!
Concrete can break down over the years and especially when exposed to extreme weather conditions, chemicals such as snow salt and lawn care materials, or lots of moisture in the soil around it. However, not all older homes will have foundation issues by default! High-quality concrete, installed by an experienced contractor, can last for 100 years or more if not even indefinitely.
It’s also good to consider how a homeowner maintained their house and property over the years. If a homeowner allowed moisture to collect around the concrete or ignored cracks and allowed them to spread, the foundation might become damaged severely after a few decades.
On the other hand, if a homeowner ensured there was no excessive moisture collecting around a home’s foundation, invested in needed waterproofing, and filled in minor cracks as soon as they appeared, that foundation might be in excellent condition no matter its age. You might even find that a well-maintained foundation is more stable than a new foundation that’s been neglected!
Rather than assuming that an older home will have foundation issues, have a foundation repair contractor or property inspect go over that foundation carefully, noting any potential issues. He or she can alert you to needed repairs or note if the foundation appears to be in good condition.
Better Foundation Repair OKC is happy to provide this quick foundation crack guide to our readers and we hope it helped answer the question, how can you tell if a crack is structural? If you’re near Oklahoma City and need foundation repair, rely on our expert OKC foundation repair contractors! We offer expert services at affordable prices, to protect your property and keep it in good condition for years to come. To find out more, give us a call today.