The individual type of crack and even just the size of the crack shouldn’t necessarily be the only thing you pay attention to. You should also consider additional factors, like the building’s history, soil, materials used for construction, and other external factors.
How significant is a specific foundation crack? Here are a few examples of different foundation crack severity.
- Minor Foundation Cracks
The biggest thing that puts a crack into the “minor” category is when it is relatively small. Here are a few examples of common minor foundation cracks.
- Horizontal hairline cracks less than one-sixteenth of an inch wide
- Any concrete slab cracks less than one-eighth of an inch wide that don’t extend into the foundation
- Stair step or vertical cracks less than one-eighth of an inch wide that don’t extend into the foundation
These cracks are what most people would call “cosmetic.” They typically don’t require repair, but you’ll still want to be diligent in your wall crack inspection to make sure you don’t see any other structural concerns.
- Moderate Foundation Damage That Requires Monitoring or Repair
These are more common foundation damages. They can indicate a small amount of structural damage, but for the most part, they don’t indicate a serious foundational concern. Here are a few examples of moderate foundation cracks.
- Old cracks with no sign of continuing widening or movement
- Mortar cracks caused by backfill being installed too early
- Horizontal bulges less than an inch and a half with no other sign of foundation cracking or damage
You may be able to save the homeowner money if you fix these problems early on. For example, horizontal bulges can easily turn into significant basement wall bowing, so it’s a good idea to handle it when you see it. However, these aren’t significant enough to be potentially hazardous right now.
- Severe Foundation Damage That Requires Immediate Professional Inspection
There are some types of foundation damage that are so significant they can indicate potentially deadly signs of failure. If you see any of these examples of severe foundation cracks, consult a foundation repair expert immediately.
- Sudden and severe foundation cracking, especially in areas prone to sinkholes
- Bulges or basement wall bowing 1.5 inches or more
- Leaning walls or lateral dislocation .25 inches or more
- Signs of recent or recurrent movement and settlement
- Any cracks wider than three-eighths of an inch
These signs of foundation damage can mean that the home you’re inspecting has a very serious foundation problem. If you see any of them, talk to a JES expert as soon as possible.