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Are the Cracks in My External Foundation Wall Serious?

External foundation cracks are a common concern for homeowners and can indicate underlying structural issues within a property’s foundation. These cracks can vary in size and shape, and it’s important to understand the variety of cracks that can occur in various types of foundations. Crawl spaces, common in older homes, can show cracks due to settlement issues or water seepage. Concrete slab-on-grade foundations, popular in residential properties, may develop cracks from soil settlement or aging. Concrete slab-on-stem wall foundations, characterized by a raised concrete slab on stem walls, could have cracks signaling compromised structural integrity.

Table of Contents

What Are External Foundation Wall Cracks?

External foundation cracks develop on the outside of a building's foundation. These cracks can be caused by factors including soil settling, expansion and contraction of the foundation due to changes in temperature and moisture levels, poor construction practices, and tree roots growing too close to the foundation. External foundation cracks can allow water to seep into the foundation, potentially causing water damage and compromising the structural integrity of the building. It is important to address external foundation cracks promptly to prevent further damage.  In addition to foundation movement, wall cracks can be linked to structural issues, such as settling or shifting over time. The seismic activity common in Southern California can also cause wall cracks. The professionals at Professional Foundation Repair can determine whether the issues are minor and can be easily fixed, or if they are more serious and indicate severe structural problems.

Call us today to schedule your foundation inspection. We'll help you evaluate the severity and type of cracks and determine the appropriate course of action to rectify the issue and ensure the stability of the home.

Slab Cracks vs Foundation Wall Cracks

Concrete slab cracks are typically superficial and can be caused by temperature fluctuations, building settlement, or concrete curing. These cracks are often cosmetic and do not pose significant structural concerns. Foundation wall cracks, on the other hand, can be more substantial and indicate underlying issues with the property's foundation. These cracks can result from factors such as soil movement, water infiltration, or poor construction practices, and may require professional intervention to rectify. Addressing foundation wall cracks promptly is crucial to prevent further structural damage and ensure the stability and safety of the property.

How Do You Know?
You may have a few small things that could lead to a quick fix before your foundation needs major work.

External Cracks by Type of Foundation:

Concrete Slab Foundation

Cracks in a concrete slab foundation can be caused by settlement, soil moisture changes, or poor construction. These cracks are often horizontal and tend to be located near the slab edges.  Repair options include using epoxy injections, polyurethane foam injections, or installing steel braces to stabilize the foundation. 

Crawl Space

Crawl space foundations, commonly found in older homes and consisting of a shallow space beneath the ground floor of a building, may exhibit cracks in the wall signaling foundation problems. Cracks in crawl space foundations can indicate settlement issues or water seepage problems. In instances where cracks are detected in crawl space foundations, Most of the time, the cracks encountered in crawl space foundations are superficial and only require minor repairs, such as sealing with epoxy or polyurethane injections to prevent further water infiltration.

Block or Brick Foundation

Cracks in a block or brick foundation can be caused by settlement, expansive soil, or water damage. These cracks are typically located near the mortar joints and can be horizontal or vertical.

The solutions for external cracks in a brick or block foundation that are causing structural issues depending on the severity of the issue and include polyurethane or epoxy injections, push pier or carbon fiber reinforcements, or waterproofing measures. 

Concrete Slab-on-Grade

Concrete slab-on-grade foundations are popular for residential properties. In cases of significant cracking in concrete slab-on-grade foundations, repair solutions such as carbon fiber reinforcement or pier and beam installations may be necessary to stabilize the foundation and prevent future damage.

Concrete Slab-on-Stem Wall

Concrete slab-on-stem wall foundations are characterized by a raised concrete slab supported by stem walls. Cracks in this type of foundation can indicate compromised structural integrity and should be evaluated by a professional foundation repair expert. Repair methods for cracks in concrete slab-on-stem wall foundations may include structural reinforcement measures or polyurethane injections to seal and stabilize the foundation.

Foundation wall cracks are a critical concern for homeowners as they can compromise the structural integrity of a property. These cracks can vary in size, orientation, and severity, making it essential to accurately assess and address them promptly to avoid further damage. When foundation wall cracks are identified, it is crucial to consult with a reputable foundation repair company to conduct a comprehensive inspection and recommend appropriate repair solutions tailored to the specific property. Taking proactive measures to repair foundation wall cracks can help prevent structural issues from escalating and safeguard the overall stability of the building.

Expert Foundation Assessments for Your Peace of Mind

Our team of experienced professionals conducts thorough assessments to identify any foundation issues and provide you with detailed reports. With our expertise, you can have confidence in the condition of your home’s foundation.

Types of Foundation Wall Cracks

Foundation wall cracks can manifest in various forms, each indicative of different underlying causes and levels of severity. Common types of foundation wall cracks include hairline cracks, horizontal cracks, vertical cracks, diagonal cracks, shrinkage cracks, structural cracks, and non-structural cracks. Hairline cracks are superficial and typically do not pose significant structural concerns, while horizontal cracks can indicate soil pressure or water damage. Vertical cracks are often caused by foundation settlement or upheaval, whereas diagonal cracks may suggest structural movement or foundation issues. Shrinkage cracks are common in concrete foundations and result from the natural curing process of concrete. Structural cracks are the most serious and require immediate attention to prevent further damage, while non-structural cracks are typically cosmetic and do not impact the property’s stability.

Hairline Cracks

Hairline cracks are superficial cracks typically less than one-sixteenth of an inch wide. These cracks are common in concrete foundations and are often caused by minor settlement or curing of the concrete. Hairline cracks are generally considered cosmetic and do not pose significant structural concerns. When evaluating hairline cracks, homeowners can monitor the width and length of the cracks over time to ensure they do not widen or progress into more severe types of cracks. In most cases, hairline cracks can be sealed using specialized crack repair products to prevent moisture infiltration and maintain the appearance of the foundation.

Stairstep Foundation Cracks

Stairstep foundation cracks are vertical cracks that step or stagger along the mortar joints in a masonry foundation wall. These cracks are typically caused by the foundation settling or shifting due to changes in soil conditions, water saturation, or poor construction practices. There are several methods for repairing stairstep foundation cracks, including filling the cracks with epoxy or polyurethane injection, installing carbon fiber strips or steel reinforcements, or even rebuilding a portion of the foundation wall. In some cases, it may be necessary to address the underlying cause of the foundation movement, such as poor drainage or soil compaction, to prevent future cracking and foundation damage.

Horizontal Cracks

Horizontal cracks in foundation walls cause concern as they can indicate excessive soil pressure against the foundation or hydrostatic pressure from water accumulation in the soil. These cracks are commonly found in basements, rarely external, and can compromise structural integrity if left untreated. Common methods for repairing horizontal cracks include installing wall braces, carbon fiber reinforcement, or conducting structural repairs to address soil pressure issues.

Vertical Cracks

Vertical cracks in foundation walls are common and can result from foundation settlement, expansive soil conditions, or thermal movements in the building. While vertical cracks don’t always indicate a foundation problem, larger or widening vertical cracks may require professional inspection and repair to prevent further damage. When vertical cracks are detected, homeowners should monitor the progression of the cracks and consult with a foundation repair expert to assess the severity of the damage. Depending on the underlying cause of the cracks, repair options may include epoxy injections, polyurethane injections, or structural reinforcement measures to stabilize the foundation and prevent future cracking.

Diagonal Cracks

Diagonal cracks in foundation walls are typically caused by differential settlement of the building, soil movement, or structural shifts within the property. These cracks often appear at a 45-degree angle and can indicate significant foundation movement or instability that requires immediate attention. Professional repair solutions for diagonal cracks may include installing pier and beam supports, conducting soil stabilization measures, or implementing structural reinforcement to mitigate the risk of foundation failure.

Shrinkage Cracks

Shrinkage cracks are common in concrete foundations and occur as a natural result of the concrete curing. These cracks are typically hairline and do not pose structural concerns unless they progress into larger, wider cracks over time. To prevent shrinkage cracks from worsening, homeowners can apply sealants or specialized crack repair products to fill the cracks and prevent moisture infiltration. Monitoring the condition of shrinkage cracks regularly can help identify any potential structural issues that may arise because of the cracking.

How to Evaluate Foundation Wall Cracks

Evaluating foundation wall cracks involves assessing factors such as the size, shape, location, and progression. Critical indicators of serious foundation issues include cracks wider than a quarter of an inch, horizontal cracking, multiple interconnected cracks, or significant vertical displacement. T

How can you tell if a crack is structural?

Determining whether a crack is structural or cosmetic requires a thorough examination of the crack characteristics and their potential impact on the overall stability of the property. Structural cracks are typically wider and longer and may exhibit signs of movement or displacement, posing a greater risk to the building’s structural integrity. When assessing cracks for structural significance, it is advisable to consult with a qualified structural engineer or foundation repair professional who can provide expert insights and recommend appropriate remediation measures to safeguard the property against potential structural damage.

Structural Cracks

A structural crack in a foundation wall is a serious concern that requires immediate professional intervention to prevent further foundation damage to the property. Identifying whether a foundation crack is serious requires a detailed evaluation of the crack characteristics, including size, shape, location, and progression. Serious, structural cracks are

  • Typically wider than one-quarter of an inch
  • Exhibit signs of movement or displacement
  • Can compromise the stability of the building.

When identifying a structural crack, homeowners should avoid attempting DIY repairs and consult with a licensed foundation repair company like Professional Foundation Repair to conduct a thorough assessment of the damage. Depending on the severity of the structural crack, repair solutions may include installing carbon fiber reinforcement, conducting epoxy injections, or implementing wall bracing systems to stabilize the foundation and prevent collapse.

Non-Structural Cracks

Non-structural cracks in foundation walls are typically superficial and do not pose significant risks to the property’s structural integrity. These cracks are often cosmetic and can result from minor settlement, temperature fluctuations, or normal wear and tear on the building. While non-structural cracks may not require immediate repair, homeowners should monitor the condition of the cracks over time to ensure they do not worsen or develop into more severe types of cracks. Sealing non-structural cracks with specialized repair products can help maintain the appearance of the foundation and prevent moisture infiltration. It’s import to consult with an expert like Professional Foundation Repair to ensure the cracks in your foundation are non-structural before attempting any DIY repair.


Expert Foundation Assessments for Your Peace of Mind

Our team of experienced professionals conducts thorough assessments to identify any foundation issues and provide you with detailed reports. With our expertise, you can have confidence in the condition of your home’s foundation.

Professional Foundation Repair's Solutions to Foundation Wall Cracks

Professional Foundation Repair offers a range of solutions to address foundation wall cracks and stabilize the structural integrity of a property in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange Counties. These solutions may include polyurethane injections, carbon fiber reinforcement, wall braces, pier and beam installations, or structural reinforcement measures tailored to the specific needs of the building.

Polyurethane Injections

Polyurethane injections are often used to seal cracks in external foundation walls. This process involves injecting a liquid polyurethane resin into the crack, which then expands and hardens to form a watertight seal. 
Polyurethane injections are a popular choice for sealing foundation cracks because they are flexible and durable, making them effective at preventing water infiltration and structural damage. Additionally, polyurethane injections are relatively quick and easy to apply, making them a cost-effective solution for repairing external foundation wall cracks and mitigating foundation damage.

Carbon Fiber Reinforcement

Carbon fiber reinforcement is a common solution for repairing cracks in external foundation walls. Carbon fiber is a lightweight and strong material often used in construction for its high tensile strength and durability. 

When applied to a cracked foundation wall, carbon fiber strips or sheets are bonded to the wall with epoxy or other adhesive. This reinforcement helps prevent further cracking and shifting of the wall and distributes the structural load more evenly across the surface.

Carbon fiber reinforcement is particularly effective for repairing horizontal or vertical cracks in foundation walls, as well as for reinforcing weak spots or areas of potential failure. It can also be used as a preventative measure to strengthen foundations at risk of cracking or shifting due to soil conditions or other factors.

Wall Braces

Wall braces are a common method for stabilizing and repairing external foundation cracks. These braces are installed inside the foundation wall and provide additional support to prevent further movement and cracking. To install wall braces for external foundation cracks, a professional contractor will first assess the extent of the damage and determine the best placement for the braces. The braces are typically made of steel or carbon fiber and are anchored securely into the floor joists and concrete floor of the basement. Once the braces are installed, they will help redistribute the weight of the foundation and provide extra support to prevent further cracking or shifting. In some cases, additional waterproofing measures may be recommended to ensure the long-term stability of the foundation.

Pier and Beam Installation

Pier and Beam Installations for external foundation cracks Pier and beam installations are commonly used to repair external foundation cracks. This method involves installing concrete or steel piers underneath the foundation to support and stabilize it. The area around the foundation crack will be excavated to create space for pier installation. Concrete or steel piers will be inserted underneath the foundation to support and prevent 

Helical Piers

Helical piers, also known as helical piles, are a type of foundation repair solution that can stabilize and support a foundation experiencing external cracks. To address external foundation cracks, helical piers are typically installed by drilling them into the ground beneath the foundation at predetermined intervals and depths. The helical piers are then attached to the foundation using brackets, providing additional support and preventing further movement and cracking.

Helical piers are popular for external foundation cracks because they are quick to install, cost-effective, and non-invasive. They can be installed year-round and do not require heavy equipment or extensive excavation, making them an ideal solution for repairing external foundation cracks without disrupting the surrounding landscape.

Wells Concentric Piers

Wells Concentric Piers are our specialized, patented concentric piers for foundation repair and can be used to address external foundation cracks. These piers consist of multiple sections assembled on-site and driven into the ground beneath the foundation. In the case of external foundation cracks, Wells concentric piers are typically installed around the perimeter of the foundation to stabilize and support the structure. The piers are driven deep into the soil to reach stable bedrock or load-bearing strata, providing additional support to the foundation and preventing further settlement or movement. 

Once the piers are installed, they can lift and level the foundation, closing any cracks that may have formed. This helps restore the structural integrity of the foundation and prevent future damage. 

By consulting with a reputable company like Professional Foundation Repair, homeowners can benefit from expert insights, comprehensive inspections, and customized repair solutions to address foundation wall cracks effectively. Investing in professional repairs for foundation cracks can help safeguard the property against further damage and ensure the long-term stability and durability of the building. 

Contact us today for expert foundation inspections and repair in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Fullerton, Santa Ana, Whittier, San Pedro, Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Orange, La Habra, Torrance, and Garden Grove.

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