7 types of foundations and their uses
Cracks in your foundation can be scary and, we’re not going to lie to you, could indicate a big problem. However, they can also come from normal wear and tear and end up being harmless.
A good rule of thumb is if the crack is less than ⅛ inch wide, do not be alarmed; however, it may be best to consult a professional.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of foundation cracks, their causes and how to fix them.
- Vertical cracks: Vertical cracks run up and down the foundation wall. They are usually caused by compression or leaching of the soil around the footing, causing that part of the foundation to settle a little lower. Although these cracks are common and do not necessarily indicate a major structural problem, they have been known to allow water to enter through the wall.
To fix: The most common solution for this type of crack is a urethane or epoxy injection, which provides a flexible seal. It is best to hire a professional builder or contractor to fix these cracks.
- Horizontal cracks: Horizontal cracks are the most serious type of foundation crack and they cross the wall laterally. These cracks indicate a bent foundation, which can lead to structural failure and cause the house to collapse. If you have horizontal cracks in your foundation, it is imperative to have the wall inspected by a licensed structural engineer and create a plan to fix it.
To fix: Some techniques for repairing horizontal cracks include reinforcing the wall with steel beams or braces, pulling the wall back with exterior anchors, or installing a carbon fiber sheet over the wall.
- Cracks in stair treads: Stair tread cracks are vertical and horizontal and are usually caused by ground pressure or settling. They most often occur in brick and concrete block walls and usually appear in mortar joints, where two blocks meet. If the stair tread cracks followed by the mortar joints, this probably does not indicate a larger problem.
To fix: You can usually repair these cracks by repointing the mortar. However, if the stair tread cracks are in the concrete block itself, this may be a bigger problem. You will need to hire a structural engineer to diagnose the problem and determine how to fix it.
- Shrinkage cracks: These are hairline cracks that come from normal wear or shrinkage of the concrete or mortar. They won’t change in size or threaten the integrity of your foundation. You won’t have to worry about fixing these cracks, but you should monitor them.
Leaks are common in basements because they are underground. Leaks can come from a few places. They can enter through a crack in your foundation, seep through porous cinder blocks, or be pushed out of the ground by hydrostatic pressure.
Water can cause your soil to expand or erode, which can lead to foundation cracks and even eventual failure. If you are building your house, waterproof the exterior of your foundation as you build it. This will help prevent any water issues and can save you money in the long run.
If the house is already built, one of the best ways to prevent water problems is to install a French drain, correct the leveling of your yard, extend your downspouts and find other ways to divert the water in your house. You can also dig around the perimeter of your house and waterproof it that way. However, this option will likely cost thousands of dollars.
Settle or sink
Some settlement is common, but significant settlement or even subsidence can threaten the integrity of your foundation. A few signs that your home is sinking or sagging are cracks in walls or above door frames, uneven floors, and sticking doors. To solve this problem, you may need to install concrete foundations or concrete pillars.
Termite damage is most common in crawl spaces and pillar and beam foundations, as they provide space for these pests. Although they cannot damage concrete or cinder block foundations, termites can weaken wooden support beams.
Signs of infestation include flying termites or wing piles, mud tunnels in your crawl space, and honeycomb patterns in your wood. To get rid of a termite infestation, you will need to contact professional exterminators who can create a custom treatment plan for your home. Treatment may include setting bait traps, using insecticides and spraying a protective barrier around the area.