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Foundation Cracks 101 – Why Cracks Don’t Always Pinpoint Underlying Problems

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Foundation cracks aren’t just unsightly but alarming, especially if they appear suddenly. Left unchecked, they can put your lovely home under immense pressure. Eventually, they will damage the underlying structure and render your Orlando, FL, home unsafe.

More often than not, people think they can get clues about what’s wrong about their foundation by just looking at existing cracks. We shall delve into this in the next section and help you understand what’s likely to be behind the foundation problems you’re experiencing.

Can Cracks Help Identify the Source of the Problem?

If you’re talking about cosmetic cracks or hairline cracks, then yes. These cracks occur due to seasonal expansion and contraction of soils. And they’re no more than 1/8 of an inch wide. But if you’re talking about structural cracks, that’s a different ball game. What you have in mind might not be close to the source.

You won’t be able to pinpoint the root cause of cracks by just looking at them. This is because the source of the foundation problem might be elsewhere. It’s likely to be deep down in the soil or originate from another part of your home. This is where the expertise of a local foundation repair contractor can make a difference.

Since the underlying issues could be anything, it’s good to have an expert examine the foundation and adjacent areas. Knowing what exactly causes the cracks will help you avoid jumping to conclusions and applying the wrong fix.

Monitoring potentially dangerous cracks can help stave off costly repairs. Identify and mark a spot along the crack, then measure its width using a ruler. Keeping checking and re-measuring the crack. If it starts to widen at one end, something bad could be on the offing. Ask an expert to evaluate the crack if it widens to more than 1/2 inch.

What Causes Foundation Cracks?

A lot of things can trigger foundation cracks in your home. That’s why a proper inspection is necessary before attempting repairs. Here are the major culprits. It could be any of the following:

1) Tree roots: Water-seeking roots from overgrown trees near your home can compromise the structural integrity of your home’s foundation. As they penetrate the soil, they might force themselves into the soil next to the foundation or soak up water, causing shrinkage and hairline cracks, which will widen over time.

2) Poor soil preparation: Many builders compress and test the soil in readiness for construction. If you start building on a site that’s not undergone any of these measures, soil settlement can occur.

3) Improper drainage: Whenever leaves collect on the gutters, they tend to obstruct the natural flow of water. Water will start spilling on the sides of the gutters into the perimeter of your home. As it falls, some of it will wash away the topsoil.

4) Soil conditions: Certain soils absorb moisture and expand while others lose water and contract, decreasing the soil’s volume. Expanding soil exerts pressure on the foundation walls causing them to crack. Consolidating soils, on the other hand, lose water, and this can lead to home imbalance.

5) Leaky plumbing system: Water from leaky pipes can exert pressure on foundations walls, causing them to buckle or shift. Warped surfaces, sticky doors, and cracks are signs trouble is brewing in the foundation.

6) Inferior construction: Sometimes builders use substandard building materials when constructing the foundation. Add this to poor grading or wrongly placed reinforcements and you have a ticking time bomb.

7) Flooding: Torrential rains will almost always hurt your foundation by sending copious amounts of water down to the underlying structures.  Water seepage can trigger wall cracks and exert pressure on the concrete slab.

 When Should I Worry?

Cracks in your Orlando, FL, home can turn out to be a structural concern if they’re accompanied by structural distress, such as sloping floors and sticking doors and windows. Likewise, horizontal cracks with major vertical displacements across their face should worry you. Such cracks often lead to bowing or leaning walls.

Need Help?

Your home’s structural integrity rests on the condition of the foundation. A minor problem can turn into a nightmare. Cracks won’t always lead you to the root issue. Only a thorough evaluation of foundational walls by the expert team at Florida Foundation Authority can help you get to the bottom of the problem. If you have a foundation crack that needs to be addressed quickly, contact us for a free foundation inspection and repair quote today.

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