For homeowners, the experience of finding developing foundation repair issues is likely to bring a sense of dread. Because the foundation of a home must support its weight and give stability to the entire structure, maintaining its strength is critical to the structural health, safety, and value of the entire home. Homeowners who have just spotted a crack, deformity, or other sign of a developing repair issue can use the following information to help understand why it is occurring and how the problem should be addressed.
Soil and settlement
Minor settlement is normal for most homes as they age, even when it results in hairline cracks in foundation walls or the walls and floors of your basement. When hairline cracks begin to expand or additional ones are found, homeowners should suspect that their home's foundation may require an evaluation and possible repairs. Common reasons for foundation cracks to move beyond the hairline stage include soil conditions that allow for high levels of expansion and contraction. Very wet or very dry soil conditions, as well as insufficient compaction of the building site and high clay content, can all exacerbate existing foundation cracks or help to create new ones.
Moisture and pressure
Foundation cracking can also be a reaction to continued exposure to moisture over a period of time. For example, when rain gutters become clogged and begin to allow water to flow over their troughs to the ground alongside the foundation, the moisture can begin to apply pressure to the foundation's exterior. Over time, the constant exposure to moisture causes cracks to form and grow larger until the gutter problem is addressed. If the cracks have become large enough to allow moisture to infiltrate the foundation walls, foundation repairs will be needed to prevent them from becoming weak and unable to support the structure of the home.
Age and quality
Foundation walls on older homes are particularly susceptible to foundation damage. The most common reason for this is that concrete and masonry building materials produced when the home was constructed were far less consistent in quality than those produced today. In addition, many older foundations were built using concrete blocks or bricks with mortar to hold them together. As the mortar deteriorates from age, holes and cracks form and allow the bricks and blocks of the foundation to move out of alignment and create additional settlement and damage to the home's structure.
Homeowners who suspect that their home's foundation is developing foundation repair issues should immediately schedule an inspection with a foundation repair contractor. During this inspection, the foundation repair contractor will help the homeowner understand the extent of the problem and the best repair solution for their situation.