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Do Foundation Cracks Mean Foundation Problems?

Cracks in a brick foundation wall.

Spotting foundation cracks can be worrying for any homeowner. Much like a doctor needs to understand the symptoms to diagnose an illness accurately, recognizing what causes foundation cracks is essential for keeping your home safe and sturdy.

This article dives deeper into the reasons, signs, and fixes for foundation cracks, helping you figure out whether they are just minor issues or signs of major structural concerns.

Where Foundation Cracks Most Often Appear

Foundation cracks can show up both on the outside and inside of your home. On the exterior, look for these cracks in the bricks around your home, near the chimney, and in other concrete structures. Inside your house, you might notice cracks in the floors, concrete walls, drywall, ceilings, and around the frames of doors and windows. These varied locations each tell a part of the story of your home’s condition and structural changes.

Different Types of Foundation Cracks

Foundation cracks come in various forms, each indicating different issues:

  • Hairline Cracks: These are very thin cracks that usually don’t signal immediate serious problems.
  • Horizontal Cracks: These could be serious and often suggest that there is pressure from soil or water pushing against the foundation.
  • Vertical Cracks: These are more common and can be caused by the house settling over time or the concrete shrinking as it dries.
  • Stair-Step Cracks: These appear in the joints of brick or concrete block walls, usually because different parts of the foundation are settling unevenly.

What Causes Foundation Cracks?

In most cases, water is the main cause behind foundation cracks. Changes in soil moisture can cause the soil and underlying components to shrink or swell, leading to movements below the foundation. Other reasons that make your home’s foundation susceptible to damage include:

Flooded grass in a front yard.
  • Soil Movement and Moisture Changes: The soil under your house can expand when it gets wet and shrink when it dries, causing the foundation to move.
  • Weather and Temperature: Extreme weather, like very hot or very cold temperatures, can also make the foundation move and crack.
  • Poor Drainage: If water doesn’t drain properly around your house, it can make the soil less stable and lead to foundation problems.
  • Water Leaks: Hidden leaks from plumbing can soften or wash away soil under the foundation, leading to cracks.
  • Tree Roots: Large trees near your home can suck moisture from the soil, making it too dry and causing the foundation to shift.
  • Poor Construction: If the foundation was built with poor-quality materials or if the construction work was sloppy, this can make the foundation weak and more likely to crack.

Warning Signs of Foundation Issues

Most foundation problems in Virginia Beach, VA, manifest physically. Some signs are subtle, while others are visible and obvious. When carrying out foundation repair inspections, look out for the following signs:

  • Cracks in ceiling and walls
  • Creaking floorboards
  • Sloped or uneven floors
  • Leaning or bowing foundation walls
  • Chimney leaning away from the side of the house
  • Cracks in the concrete slab
  • Floor cracks
  • Cracks in brick siding

The Benefits of Working with a Professional for Foundation Repair

JES technician installing a foundation pier.

Choosing to work with a professional for foundation repair rather than tackling the job yourself has several advantages. Professionals have the expertise and equipment to accurately assess the severity of foundation cracks and determine the underlying causes.

They can spot signs of serious problems that might not be obvious to homeowners, such as subtle shifts in the structure that suggest deeper issues. Additionally, professionals can provide warranties on their work, offering peace of mind that the repair will last.

Attempting DIY repairs without the proper knowledge can lead to inadequate fixes, potentially causing more damage and higher costs in the long run. A professional’s intervention ensures that the foundation repair is thorough, meets building codes, and addresses the problem effectively the first time around.

Professional Foundation Repair Methods

  • Carbon Fiber Wall Straps: These help support walls that are bowing or bending.
  • Foundation Piers: Heavy-duty supports like helical piers, slab piers, or push piers fix bigger foundation issues from the outside.
  • Wall Anchors: These stabilize and straighten basement walls that are bowing inward due to hydrostatic pressure in the ground.
  • Steel I-Beams: Installed vertically against the wall to prevent it from bowing inward, steel I-beams are a strong solution for serious structural repair.

FAQs

Delaying the repair of foundation cracks can lead to a host of problems, including further structural damage, water intrusion leading to mold growth and poor indoor air quality, and even compromised safety of the home. Over time, what might have been a simpler, more cost-effective repair can evolve into a complex, expensive undertaking.  

It is generally recommended to have your foundation inspected at least once every few years, especially if you notice any signs of foundation problems such as cracks in the walls, uneven floors, or doors and windows that stick. Regular inspections can help identify any potential issues early on and prevent them from escalating into more significant problems. Additionally, if you live in an area with unstable soil or experience extreme weather conditions, more frequent inspections may be necessary. 

Foundation pier installation is a specialized task requiring expert knowledge, skills, and equipment. It is not advisable to undertake this task independently. Rely on JES Foundation Repair’s expertise for assured quality installation of foundation piers.

Contact JES Foundation Repair for a Free Inspection

JES worker taking materials out of a work truck.

Since 1993, JES has been helping homeowners repair their foundations and make their homes safer. With industry-leading foundation solutions, we’re committed to creating better homes for our neighbors in Virginia, DC, and Maryland.

Come see why homeowners through the Mid-Atlantic trust us. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection where we’ll create a plan to fix your foundation issues. The best foundation repair method for your home is just around the corner, and working with JES gets you there faster!

Our Experts are Here to Help

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Related Resources

Ted Dryce

Ted Dryce

Content Writer

Ted is an SEO Content Writer who has been with Groundworks since 2021. He’s covered home repair topics ranging from crawl space encapsulation to regional soil conditions. When he’s not working, Ted is performing improv comedy and working on his own creative projects.

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JES Foundation Repair service area map of the Mid-Atlantic region.

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Baltimore

8361 Town Center Ct
Nottingham, MD 21236

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Suite 2-02
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