Due to shifting soil, water issues, and normal settlement, most foundations will crack. There are different kinds of foundational cracks and varying causes. Once you understand the type of cracks you have and the underlying cause, you’ll be better able to repair them to protect your home.
There are two basic types of foundational cracks. They are horizontal and vertical cracks that differ in causes and severity.
Vertical Cracks—These run up and down your foundation. An example of one is a hairline crack. Vertical cracks are often small and don’t require professional help. If there are only a few cracks and they don’t get longer or wider over time, they can be patched to reduce the potential for moisture or infestation.
Horizontal Cracks—Unlike vertical cracks, horizontal cracks, which run across your foundation or walls, can be more serious. These are caused by different sources of pressure, such as water and soil, which can severely impact the structural integrity of your home. They can also be due to poor workmanship when contractors fail to grade the property properly before construction.
To get an idea of the severity of either a vertical or horizontal crack, you can test it with a dime. If you can fit one into the crack the damage is large enough to require repair. If small, it should be monitored over time to see if gets worse and then addressed accordingly. It’s easier to fill small cracks, and it is best to stay on top of them before they become vulnerable to bugs, water, mold, and other infestations.
Generally, any horizontal crack should be evaluated by a licensed home inspector or engineer to assess the underlying cause, and if the cracking has caused any other structural concerns.