When you notice a crack in your foundation, you think the worst. Your mind immediately goes to the thousands of dollars that serious foundation repair can cost you. However, if you see a crack in your foundation, while that is a traditional warning sign, not all cracks mean something bad is happening.
Every foundation will settle. It is to be expected as the foundation ages. Ideally, you want to prevent severe and unexpected settling by preventing the soil from expanding, shrinking, or eroding around it. When your foundation settles naturally over time, cracks will appear. They are harmless, but you need to know what cracks aren’t harmless.
- Vertical Cracks — It is very uncommon to have concrete foundation and not see a few vertical cracks. These should be hairline and within 30 degrees of vertical. They are caused by natural settling.
- Diagonal Cracks — These cracks are also normal, caused by different ends of the foundation settling differently. You may also see diagonal cracks, called step cracks, creeping their way up exterior brick walls above the foundation. So long as they are hairline, they are not a serious problem.
- Horizontal Cracks — Now if you spot horizontal cracks, these are the most serious kind. These cracks can be a sign that a foundation is starting to bow and addressing them quickly can help stop a serious problem.
Minor Cracks — Do You Leave Them Alone?
If you have hairline vertical or diagonal cracks, they don’t mean there is a bigger problem, but they still need to be addressed. The issue is that these cracks, when exposed to moisture and the elements, can widen. Over time, this widening will cause a problem. You want these small cracks to be filled in with epoxy by a professional to prevent them from growing worse.