The foundation of your home provides an essential base upon which the entire structure is built. If you spot cracks in your foundation, you may worry whether you'll have to pay for extensive repairs or risk your home being deemed uninhabitable. What caused these cracks, and how soon do you need to worry about repairing them? A professional contractor can offer you advice about your home and cracked foundation repair.
Signs of a Cracked Foundation
The most obvious signs of a cracked foundation are visible fissures or splits in the foundation material. If you have a basement, you may see these cracks up the walls. The masonry, concrete, or brick can develop cracks ranging in size from hairline splits to large gaps.
If most of your foundation is underground or underneath your flooring, you may not see visible cracks, but there are other indications that your foundation needs repair. These include the following:
- Strange odors or excessive humidity: If the foundation is splitting apart, it may allow more airflow into your home, resulting in odd smells or lingering mugginess.
- Uneven floors: The ground may shift your floor tiles or floorboards as the foundation splits apart.
- Bowed walls, window frames, or roofing: As the floor shifts, other aspects of your home may also begin to come apart or slant.
Most Common Causes of Cracks
The soil underneath your home is likely to blame for cracks in your foundation. One of the most common reasons for foundation repair is that a home is built on clay soil. Clay retains a lot of moisture, so as the temperature changes with the seasons, the clay will expand and shrink with moisture. This constant shifting of the soil could place pressure on your foundation and cause the cracks.
Tree roots may also have the same effect; they draw moisture from the soil, potentially causing the dirt under your home to shift so much that the concrete or brick foundation splits. Even if you don't have major trees next to your property, poor drainage can have the same effect if frequent, dramatic differences in the moisture of the soil place pressure on your foundation.
It's also common for engineering issues to require foundation repair. If any remodel or restoration was performed on your home, or if the original design did not take into account the soil and weather, then there may be issues with construction that later lead to cracks.
When to Call for Repairs
When you first notice visible cracks, you may not need to call for repairs right away. Keep an eye on them. If they continue to get bigger over several months, then you know you need to call in a professional for repairs. In addition, keep track of other issues like creaky or crooked floors that may indicate a problem with the foundation. If these problems also get worse over time, then it's time to call in a professional to perform an inspection and evaluate the extent of the damage.