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3 Things You Need To Know About Vertical Cracks

Vertical foundation cracks can appear on newly constructed homes (1-2 years old) or older homes (2 to 20-plus years) and can be a stepping stone toward serious issues down the road. Similarly to horizontal or stair-stepping cracks found in the home, the foundation repair industry encounters these cracks daily, and in this post, we’ll show three examples of vertical foundation cracks and what your best course of action is.

#1: Hairline Vertical Foundation Cracks

Figure 1: Hairline Vertical Foundation Crack: This can typically be considered as more of an aesthetic issue than a structural issue.

This is how every vertical crack first appears. A hairline vertical foundation crack, in an expert’s opinion, can be solely an aesthetic issue. Typically, a vertical crack of this size is simply due to the aging of the home or moderate settlement that every home, old or new, experiences in its lifetime. As the house ages, some of the materials used for various components of the home can dry out and shrink. Continuous changes in temperatures, changes in humidity levels, and changes in the moisture levels of the soils that the structure rests upon can also cause movement within the various components of the house and can result in cracking.

Although these hairline cracks can solely be an aesthetic issue, it is important to monitor these cracks to ensure that they do not separate or widen, as they can occasionally be the early signs of a more significant issue.

As the homeowner, take precautions to ensure that your home goes unaffected by the presence of these cracks and take the necessary steps to protect your investment and prevent future issues. Ensure that all water properly drains away from your home and that all penetrations (including hairline cracks) are properly sealed. Water is essential, but it is also one of the biggest threats to a home. The grade around the home should be sloped in a manner that properly diverts water away. If and when a drainage system is required, the system should be routinely inspected to verify it is properly functioning. Gutters and gutter downspouts should be kept clean, and downspouts should be piped or extended to keep water away from the foundation of your home.

Figure 2: Chet Miller: Founder of Carolina Foundation Solutions

#2: Moderate Vertical Foundation Cracks

Figure 3: Vertical Foundation Crack Progression: Caused by differential settlement and movement within the subgrade

We are including this on our list because it shows what a hairline vertical foundation crack can progress into if underlying issues exist and if the necessary steps are not taken. A crack of this size is typically a sign of a structural issue, such as foundation settlement, and is commonly caused by differential settlement within the structure and movement within the soils beneath the home. This settlement and movement do not only show themselves through vertical cracks. There are several other signs and indicators that point toward something being wrong, such as:

  1. Gaps and separationsGaps and separations within various components can be found around windows and door openings, separation in wood trim and molding, and separation between walls, ceilings, and floors.
  2. Exterior wallsWalls, particularly basement walls, may begin to bulge, bow, or shift out of alignment.
  3. Cracks around window and door openings Cracks within the brick, concrete, stone, block, and drywall of both the exterior and interior sides of the outside walls can often be found around the windows and door openings.

As the homeowner, the best course of action in this situation is to call a trusted foundation repair company to diagnose the issue and bring applicable and easy-to-understand solutions to the table. Lucky for you, Carolina Foundation Solutions is such a company. We present solutions that will remedy your issue after the conclusion of our FREE inspection/inspection of the property. Our main goal is to offer the best service, bar none. This means we will respectfully educate you every step of the way and keep you well informed as we progress through the repair together.

#3: Large Vertical Foundation Cracks

Figure 4: Vertical Foundation Crack Progression: Worst case scenario that is typically due to poor underlying soil conditions

This crack demonstrates how severe a vertical foundation crack can get if left untreated. The appearance of a crack this size is a sign of serious structural issues and means that the integrity of your foundation is compromised. Something of this magnitude puts you and anyone else in the home at risk. Cracks of this size are commonly a result of poor underlying soil conditions. The presence of poor underlying soil conditions can be a result of the following:

  1. Poor drainage A lack of proper management of the drainage around a home can lead to saturation of the soils and even erosion of the soils that the structure rests upon. Many of the soils within our region can soften, experience a great deal of movement, or can become very unstable when saturated. The soils can also be broken down and washed away by the elements. This erosion diminishes the stability that soil offers and can ultimately be a contributing factor to foundation settlement and the development of vertical foundation cracks.
  2. Poor native soilsSome types of soils within our area are simply more susceptible to excessive movement as compared to other types of soils. Changes in moisture content and fluctuations within the water table can lead to expansion and contraction of the soils and can also weaken the soils.
  3. Inadequate preparation/poor constructionUnfortunately, in some situations, the poor soils can be a result of the proper steps not being taken during the initial construction of the home. This can consist of failure to test the existing soils properly, failure to compact the soils, and/or use of bad fill material.

Once a crack of this size has been noticed, the course of action you need to take is to call a trusted foundation repair company. Carolina Foundation Solutions specializes in providing permanent solutions, such as the installation of helical piers, to address your foundation settlement issues. Our team of certified installers will then come to your home and install the helical piers, consisting of hot-dipped galvanized steel piles through the weak soil and down to a layer of strong, stable soils. Carolina Foundation Solutions will then fasten steel underpinning brackets to the base of the foundation, which will transfer the loads of the structure through the helical piles down to the layer of stable soils. These systems will then provide the necessary support and prevent your home from any future movement and/or settlement.

The takeaway here is to be proactive instead of reactive when you notice a vertical foundation crack. The issue can only get worse over time, resulting in more complicated and costly repairs. A strong foundation means a strong and safe home. Carolina Foundation Solutions is a top-rated foundation repair company in the Carolinas that specializes in providing support for you and your family’s home when you need it most. 

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