Few things strike fear in a homeowner’s heart more than a crack in a wall or floor.
We’ve all seen them: cracks running up the masonry of our exterior walls, or spreading across a floor. They’re always unsightly, and they make us think something is seriously wrong with our house.
Sometimes, the crack isn’t as bad as it seems. Sometimes, it’s indicative of a major foundation issue. How can you tell which one is which?
When a Crack Isn’t a Problem
Homes – especially newer homes – settle over time. This settling is normal, and it may result in cracks along the interior and exterior of your home.
A small crack probably isn’t anything. Even longer or wider cracks may just be settling, or a result of the soil expanding or contracting beneath the foundation – but not in a way that threatens the integrity of the foundation.
If the crack didn’t appear all of a sudden – if it’s been gradually expanding over a significant period of time – it may not be a big deal. If the crack is a hairline crack, it’s probably not a major problem.
The crack may also close up over time all by itself. This is common with non-serious cracks caused by shifting soil.
When a Crack Is a Problem
Sometimes, though, cracks can’t be explained by settling, and they’re serious enough to warrant professional help.
If you notice large cracks in any form, that’s a red flag. If you notice “staircase” cracks in your exterior masonry – i.e. cracks that look like stairs in the mortar joints – that’s another red flag.
Cracks that appear suddenly are a concern. So are cracks that are jagged or horizontal; they could indicate the need for a new foundation.
Anything sudden that goes wrong is a sign of a potential foundation problem. This is particularly true with doors and windows. If your doors and windows are closing fine, but one day, out of nowhere, they’re not, that’s a sign of a foundation issue. The same goes for cracked tile. If your tile is cracking in more than one place, and it’s not due to damage from something falling on it, then your home is no longer level.
Fixing Home Foundation Problems
The best way to know for sure is to call a home foundation repair specialist. They’ll inspect your home and see if there’s anything that needs to be fixed. They’ll tell you what the problem may be and what needs to be done.
Worst case, you’ll need a new foundation. This doesn’t happen most of the time – there are things we can do short of constructing an entire foundation from scratch – but it can occur, and you need to be prepared for that possibility.
No matter what the case may be, a professional can help you assess the cracks in your home and tell you if they’re something you need to be worried about. They may be perfectly fine – or they may be something that has to be fixed at once.