What to Do About Cracks In Your Foundation

Homes, regardless of how well built, are always subject to the conditions of nature and to the weather. Over time, given things like changing soil conditions, the structural foundation of your house can start to shift, leaving behind visible signs like cracks in your foundation and in your walls. Here’s how to identify those signs and what to do about them:

large deep crack in concrete foundation of house

What Causes Cracks?

There a number of factors that can contribute to a foundational crack: particularly cold winters and intensely hot summers, earthquakes and natural disasters, overly wet or dry soil, poorly planned and executed construction, or very frequent changes in temperature.
How to Identify a Crack in the Foundation
While your home’s foundation is buried and not always visible, signs of a foundation shift can be seen throughout your home. Pay attention for things like:

  • Doors or windows that are no longer aligned and either stick or won’t latch shut
  • Cracks in the exterior concrete
  • Water in the basement or crawl spaces
  • Cracks in the drywall
  • Gaps in wall seams or between walls and ceilings
  • Sloping floors

Is The Crack I Found a Problem?

Advice on this will vary based on who you talk to. The smaller the crack, the less likely it is to be a problem. A widely accepted standard is if it’s less than a quarter of an inch, it’s not likely to be an issue and in fact, not all cracks you find are necessarily bad.
Cracks inside of your home can appear above doors, archways, and windows. Most often these are actually relief joints and will vary in size as temperatures outside change. Angular cracks can sometimes appear in towards the top of brick walls laid on concrete foundations. These are caused by the bricks expanding during the summer and, while a potential eyesore, will likely occur every year.

That said, if the crack you find is more than a quarter of an inch, you’ll want to take further steps.

What Do I Do?

Ultimately it’s up to you how much time and money you will want to spend to solve any potential issues from a crack. Some cracks can be harmless now, but may lead to more serious issues down the road. One option before deciding what course of action to take is to more closely monitor the crack over time by measuring the crack regularly for the next few weeks or months. This will give you an idea of how the crack is growing, if at all.

Regardless of the severity, it’s a good idea to call in a professional to take a look. They’ll be able to tell you exactly why the crack is occurring, any potential issues that can arise from it, and what you’ll need to do to fix it. Be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars for an evaluation.

More serious issues will need to be handled and repaired by a structural engineer. These will be costly, but will save you money when it comes time to sell your home. On the flipside, you may be able to handle smaller repairs by yourself with either weatherproofing paint or different epoxies.