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Foundation Cracks: What You Need To Know About Normal Wear And Tear Vs. Structural Damage

Published on March 11, 2023

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Foundation Cracks: What You Need To Know About Normal Wear And Tear Vs. Structural Damage

Common Causes Of Foundation Cracks

Foundation cracks are a common issue for homeowners, but understanding the cause of a crack can help determine if it's a normal sign of wear and tear or a more serious structural problem. Most foundation cracks are caused by soil settlement due to changes in moisture content, which is usually caused by poor drainage or inadequate waterproofing.

Additionally, extreme temperature swings and drought can cause the soil to shrink and expand, putting strain on your home’s foundation. In some cases, tree roots near the foundation can also cause movement that leads to cracking.

Poor construction of your foundation can also lead to cracks, as can high water tables that put pressure on the walls and floors of your home. Finally, seismic activity such as earthquakes or sudden ground movement can also create problems with your foundation.

It is important to regularly inspect your home’s foundation for any signs of cracking so you can take action before it becomes a more serious issue.

Differentiating Structural And Non-structural Foundation Cracks

new foundation cracks

Foundation cracks can be both a normal sign of wear and tear or a sign of structural damage, so how do you determine the difference? Knowing how to differentiate between non-structural and structural foundation cracks is essential to determining the best course of action for repair. The most common cause of non-structural foundation cracking is due to the natural settling of a home, which can cause hairline fractures in the walls and flooring.

However, these cracks are generally uniform in width and don’t run diagonally or step up or down. Structural damage is typically caused by soil movement underneath the home that shifts or weakens its foundation, creating larger and more visible fractures.

These types of cracks often have an uneven width and may run on an angle across walls or floors, rising and falling as they go. When inspecting a crack for signs of structural damage it’s important to look for other clues such as bowing walls or door frames that don’t close properly.

It’s also helpful to note when the cracking first started as well as any changes in severity over time. If you suspect there may be structural damage it’s important to contact a professional right away who can evaluate your home and suggest proper repairs if needed.

Poor Soil Conditions And Foundations

Foundation cracks can be caused by poor soil conditions, and it is important to differentiate between normal wear and tear, which may take place over time, and structural damage. Poor soil conditions can cause foundation settlement due to the inability of the soil to properly support the structure.

When soil becomes saturated with water, it expands and contracts as moisture levels change. This movement in the soil can cause foundation problems such as cracks or sinking.

Additionally, soils that are predominantly clay-based or have a high sand content are more prone to these issues. It is also important to note that different types of foundations—such as slab or pier & beam—have different vulnerabilities when it comes to poor soil conditions.

In order to ensure that your home's foundation remains safe, it is important for homeowners to be aware of their local soil type so they can take preventative measures if needed.

Utilizing The Right Foundations For Different Soil Types

new home foundation cracks

When building a home or other structure, it is important to consider the soil type and utilize the right foundation for that area. Different types of soil can cause different levels of damage to foundations over time, so using appropriate materials and techniques can help prevent future issues.

Loose soils such as sand or silt are not ideal for supporting a structure, since they can easily shift or erode away due to water or wind. Clays and silts are better suited for foundations because they provide more stability and can create a stronger base.

Additionally, rocky soils like limestone and shale have the capacity to be strong but need professional installation in order to ensure a secure foundation. Understanding the different types of soil and their capabilities is key in ensuring that the foundation of your structure will remain strong despite normal wear and tear, protecting it from structural damage caused by shifting ground or erosion.

Avoiding Expensive Repairs From Unsuitable Foundations

Foundation cracks can be an alarming sight, but it doesn't necessarily mean that a costly repair is necessary. Knowing how to determine the difference between normal wear and tear and structural damage can help you prevent expensive repairs due to unsuitable foundations.

It's important to understand the different types of foundation cracks so you can properly assess their severity and take the right course of action. Horizontal cracks are often an indication of poor construction, while vertical cracks usually come from normal settling or shrinkage.

If a crack grows wider over time, it could be due to hydrostatic pressure or expansive soils which should be addressed immediately. Further evaluation by a professional is recommended if you're unsure about the cause of the crack or its potential impacts on your home's structure.

With proper assessment and early detection, foundation damage can often be prevented before it leads to major repairs.

Preventative Maintenance For Foundations

cracks in new foundation

Foundation cracks can occur over time due to normal wear and tear or structural damage, so it is important to be aware of the signs in order to prevent any further damage. One way to ensure that your foundation remains intact is to undertake preventative maintenance regularly.

This includes inspecting the foundation for any visible signs of cracking or movement and addressing any issues as soon as they are noticed. It is also a good idea to check the basement walls for water infiltration and perform regular waterproofing measures such as sealing windows, doors, and other potential sources of moisture entry.

Additionally, ensuring that gutters are clear and in working order can help divert water away from your foundation which can help reduce the chances of damage occurring. Finally, having your soil professionally evaluated periodically can help determine if there is any settlement happening below the surface which could cause structural damage.

Taking these steps can help you stay ahead of any potential problems with your foundation before they become too serious.

Identifying Signs Of Foundation Settling

When it comes to identifying signs of foundation settling, there are certain things that you should look for. Cracks in walls and floors can be indicative of foundation settlement, as can doors and windows that don't open or close properly.

Other signs include a wet basement or crawlspace, sloping floors, and slanting ceilings. In addition to these visible signs, other indicators of foundation settling may include uneven chimney heights or a cracked brick facade on the outside of your home.

When it comes to determining whether a crack is due to normal wear and tear or structural damage, homeowners should consider factors such as the size of the crack (small cracks are usually caused by shrinkage) and the direction of the crack (horizontal cracks are usually more serious). It's always best to have a professional inspect your foundations so you can accurately identify any issues before they become more severe.

Analyzing Uneven Floors & Walls

crack in new foundation

When analyzing uneven floors and walls due to foundation cracks, it is important to distinguish between normal wear and tear and structural damage. A slight bulge in the wall or a slight dip in the floor could be indicative of a minor settlement issue, which is common with older homes.

Minor settlement issues can be resolved with simple patchwork or levelers to raise the affected area. However, when the issue is more severe—such as an entire wall leaning outwards—it could be a sign of more serious damage caused by shifting soils or poor construction.

These types of foundation cracks may require extensive repairs or even full replacement of the structure. It is essential to understand the difference between normal wear and tear and structural damage when addressing foundation cracks in order to ensure that proper repairs are completed.

Dampness In Basements & Crawl Spaces

Dampness in basements and crawl spaces is often a major contributor to foundation cracks, but it’s important to understand the difference between normal wear and tear and structural damage. Moisture can corrode metals, cause wood rot, and promote the growth of mold.

If dampness is allowed to persist for an extended period of time, it can cause the concrete slab or block foundation to crack and shift due to hydrostatic pressure. Basements that aren’t properly insulated are especially vulnerable because they tend to retain more moisture than other parts of the home.

In order to prevent foundation damage from water seepage, homeowners need to make sure that gutters are not leaking and downspouts are diverting water away from their homes. It’s also important to provide adequate ventilation in basements and crawl spaces so that moisture doesn’t become trapped inside the walls.

Diagnosing Foundation Problems

Foundation (engineering)

Diagnosing a foundation problem can be a tricky process, as it requires an experienced professional to determine whether the issue is normal wear and tear or more serious structural damage. To properly diagnose the issue, the professional will need to inspect the foundation for any visible signs of distress.

This includes checking for cracks in walls and floors, gaps between walls and floors, bowing or leaning walls, uneven floors, water leakage from windows and doors, or any other indication of possible foundation failure. Additionally, a qualified professional should also use specialized tools like electronic moisture meters, infrared cameras and ground radar to detect any hidden issues that may not be visible with the naked eye.

With these tools together with their expertise, professionals are able to accurately assess whether a foundation problem is due to normal wear and tear or something more serious that requires immediate repair.

Evaluating The Severity Of Concrete Slab Cracks

Evaluating the severity of concrete slab cracks is an important part of ensuring that your foundation remains structurally sound. Cracks can be caused by normal wear and tear, as well as structural damage caused by shifting soil or weather conditions.

Concrete slab cracks are classified into two categories: hairline cracks, which are less than 1/8 inch wide, and visible cracks which appear larger. Hairline cracks generally don't need to be a cause for concern, but visible cracks should be inspected to determine if there is more serious underlying damage.

It is important to note that even small visible cracks can indicate a serious problem when they appear in multiple places or form patterns such as steps or stairs. In addition, you should pay close attention to any diagonal or jagged cracks in concrete slabs, as these are often indicative of movement or settlement in the foundation.

Finally, keep an eye out for any water pooling around the foundation or base of the concrete slab, as this could point to large-scale issues with drainage or standing water around the home's foundation.

Assessing Foundation Wall Damage


Assessing foundation wall damage is an important part of determining whether the cracks in your home's foundation are due to normal wear and tear or a structural issue. Before assessing the damage, it is important to understand the differences between normal wear and tear and structural damage.

Normal wear and tear typically appears as small hairline cracks in the foundation walls, which can occur over time due to temperature changes, ground shifting or soil that has become over-saturated with water. Structural damage, however, is usually caused by extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain or a major earthquake.

Structural damage may appear as large crack lines that run across the width of several walls or extends down into the basement floor. If you notice any large cracks in your foundation walls, it is important to have a professional inspect them right away.

They will be able to tell you if they are caused by normal wear and tear or if there is a more serious structural issue that needs to be addressed.

Fixing Foundation Issues Before Construction

When building or renovating a home, it is important to fix foundation issues before construction begins. Foundation cracks can be caused by normal wear and tear due to settling of the house over time, or they can be indicative of more serious structural damage.

In order to determine which type of issue you are dealing with, it is important to consult an expert who has experience in assessing foundation problems. If the crack is due to settling, a small repair may help prevent further damage from occurring.

However, if the cause of the crack is from structural damage, more extensive and costly repairs or replacement may be necessary. Before any construction begins on your home, take the time to have a professional inspect your foundation for any signs of cracks that could indicate a larger problem down the line.

Treating Existing Foundations For Longevity


Foundation cracks can be a cause for concern, especially if they are the result of structural damage rather than normal wear and tear. Fortunately, there are ways to treat existing foundations to ensure their longevity.

It's important to understand the difference between cosmetic repairs and structural repairs prior to beginning any treatment. Cosmetic repairs such as filling or sealing cracks are helpful in preventing further deterioration, but they do not address the underlying problem that may have caused the cracks.

Structural repairs involve reinforcing the structure of the foundation so that it can better withstand movement and other forces that may lead to cracking. Depending on the severity of the problem, this may involve underpinning or installing helical anchors or carbon fiber straps.

Additionally, waterproofing measures like exterior drainage systems and sealants should be taken into account when treating existing foundations for longevity.

Are Cracks Normal In New Foundations?

When it comes to foundation cracks, many homeowners are curious to know whether they are normal in new foundations. Generally speaking, normal wear and tear can cause minor hairline cracks in concrete foundations, especially during the curing process.

These should not be a cause for alarm on their own and can often be filled and sealed with epoxy or other materials. However, if the cracks are visible from the outside, wider than a quarter of an inch or appear in multiple areas of the home's foundation, then the underlying structure may have been compromised due to structural damage.

In this case, further investigation by a qualified professional is recommended in order to determine the best course of action for repair.

Why Is My New Foundation Cracking?

Concrete slab

When it comes to foundation cracks, distinguishing between normal wear and tear and structural damage can be difficult. If you've just moved into a new home, the first thing to consider is the age of the building and how much time has passed since it was built.

In some cases, minor foundation cracking is simply due to settling or shrinkage as the house ages. However, if you find that your new foundation is cracking significantly or unevenly, this could be an indication of more serious structural damage.

Other signs that something may be amiss include walls that bow inward or outward, windows or doors that stick for no apparent reason, and water pooling in your basement or sloping floors. To ensure your safety and protect the value of your home, it's important to have any cracks in your foundation inspected by a professional who can determine whether they are caused by normal wear and tear or signify something more serious.

When Should I Worry About Foundation Cracks?

Foundation cracks can be both a sign of normal wear and tear or of structural damage. Knowing when to worry about foundation cracks is important in order to properly address the issue.

If the cracks are large and/or expanding, it could be a sign of structural damage and should be inspected by a professional foundation specialist. If the crack is small, typically less than a quarter inch wide, it may simply be due to normal settling of the structure over time.

This type of crack typically doesn’t need repair but should be monitored regularly for any changes. If you notice larger gaps forming after heavy rains or dry spells it could also indicate structural damage that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

If left untreated, foundation cracks can lead to further damage such as water penetration or even collapse of the structure. It’s important to inspect your home for new or widening foundation cracks regularly so that any potential issues can be identified and addressed quickly by a professional before they become more serious problems.


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