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What Causes Cracks in the Foundation?

The cause of cracks in a Foundation all start with the water traveling underground. There are different types of cracks and a Foundation Professional needs to see and assess them. Is it a horizontal crack? Vertical? Step crack? Concrete Block? Cinder Block? Stone? Rubble? Brick? Terra cotta? How old? (And people get intolerant when my assistant asks too many questions before setting an appointment for me to do the estimate. Imagine that?)

 

Tree Roots

 

Trees and shrubs need water and their roots go straight toward the most abundant source. Where might that be? A tree could be ten feet away from a foundation but the roots head straight for it where water can be down at the bottom even during a drought. The original hole acts like a bowl and the sun don't shine down there to cause evaporation. Homeowners might think not to plant right next to a foundation but it really doesn't matter. I've had jobs where roots from trees 20ft away are coming thru soft, corroded bottom blocks. It's the water, not the Tree.

 

Freezing Ground

 

When water freezes it expands. Water in soils and the the soils expand. The soils next to your home have been there only since the home was built; backfill. The soils beyond the original hole dug to put in your foundation has been there since the beginning of time. Both are comprised of sand, silt or clay particles but the miniscule gaps are larger in the backfill (compressed over age of home) than the soils beyond. (compressed since beginning time.) When the backfill freezes the earth isn't going anywhere, your foundation will.

 

Moisture in the Soil

 

It is all about the original hole dug out to put in your Foundation. When water fills the area the weight of the water combined with the soils or mud presses constantly on foundation walls. That weight can and will cause your foundation to implode eventually

 

Do Foundation Cracks Need to be Fixed?

 

Way back when, I used to tell a customer whilst doing an estimate that the wall may not move any further, could last for ten years or fail with the next rain. No way of knowing. NOT ANYMORE. Back then I was sympathetic and would hope right along with them that the wall wouldn't move or fail. Today I empathize and in that I try to keep my prices low but will absolutely express any foundation crack needs to be fixed ASAP! I will firmly state that Foundation Wall Could Fail at the of this Conversation. FIX IT!

 

Scare tactics? Really? You Choose. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." By chance if the wall does fail before you do a preventive fix, that Cost to rebuild will be 65% to 75% more than had you fixed it. If today I was to say "don't worry about it" and tomorrow the wall fails, who gets the blame? Who should have said what? Who should have warned you? Save yourself potential tens of thousands and just please fix it ASAP. - Daniel J. OConnor (HydroGuru)

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