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Question DetailsAsked on 11/13/2014

My concrete foundation has multiple hairline cracks in it. (14 total) should I be concerned about them?

Most of these cracks are very close to each other 6 to 8 inches apart. 3 of these cracks are in the corners. Most of the cracks do run vertical while 3 of the run horizontal. The horizontal cracks are within the top 2 inches from the siding. Some of the cracks go all the way through the concrete foundation. There are also some hairline cracks in the drywall which are located in the corners. There are issues with all of the doors closing.too. I do have a walk out basement and all of the other concrete slabs are shifting upwards, Driveway garage, and basement floors. The home was completed less that a year before the cracks appeared.

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7 Answers

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I am going to assume you mean a cast concrete foundation, not concrete block where any cracking wouldbe expected to occur at the grout joints ?


I hate to be an alarmist, but I would be quite concerned about this - especially with some of the cracks going clear through the wall. Can you post a photo or two using the leftmost yellow icon above the Answer box called up by clicking the Answer This Question button right below your question, so I can get a better view of the situation ?


If not feasible or you want immediate expert consultation on this, and ultimately you are highly likely to end up needing to go this route anyway, is you need a Civil Engineering firm with both geotechnical and structural capabilities to do an assessment - typically $350 range plus or minus for initial site inspection, plus likely a second phase of $1-2000 or so for a few boreholes to take soil samples for mineralogy, gradation, moisture and compaction tests.


Unfortunately, with these cracks plus the slabs shifting upwards it sounds to me like you are in an expansive soil region - generally but somewhat intermittently exposed at the surface as clayey soils from eastern half of Montana / Wyoming and most of ND/SD (and north into Canada) down into north-central Texas from north to south, and from the Rockies front range to near the east edge of Kansas and Oklahoma roughly, plus much of the Gulf states excluding most of Florida and the mountainous areas - with the best known worst parts being generally in eastern Wyoming and western SD, west Kansas, eastern half of Colorado, most of Oklahoma, and west-central and northern Texas. However, there are sporadic expansive soil areas in other parts of the country from several areas on the west coast to the southeast US. This sort of problem is especially common in Oklahoma and in east-central Colorado from just past the front range to the eastern border. Not for certain that is your issue, but here is a good simple article with info on expansive soils with a US map showing areas with significant occurrence of it - every state has at least one area with the issue -


http://www.inspection-perfection.com/...


As for the cracks themselves, sounds (without seeing it) like a classic case of the wall being bulged inward by external soil pressure (the vertical cracks), and the foundation tearing free of the walls at the studwall bottom plate anchor bolts, creating the three horizontal cracks near the top of wall. No surprise you are having drywall cracks and door/window alignment issues.


I would be checking the purchase contract and warranty on the house ASAP for warranty conditions and whether any warranty is limited to first buyer if you are not the initial buyer, and also your state and maybe city statutory warranty period (if any) on new construction, and hope this is still less than a year from first taking possession of the house because new home builder warranty periods are typically 1 year.


I know this is no help now but for the benefit of other readers of this response, you should have been looking into this issue and warranty coverage as soon as you started having significant noticeable structural (foundation) cracking or a significant number or amount of slab shifting anywhere. Too many homeowners wait entirely too long before addressing problems with homes, be it with defective workmanship or design, or evenwith substandard work-in-progress. Some of this is due to understandable lack of knowledge on their part, convincing contractors who encourage them to "wait-and-see or who convinece them that "all concrete cracks" or such, some from optomism that it will not get any worse, procrastination,or in some cases from fear it will get worse and they will not be able to handle it.


Check your homeowners insurance policy also about earth movement and pressure damage - do NOT call insurance company at this time because that will count as a claim and possibly result in policy cancellation even if it is NOT covered. However, unless you have a specific rider covering damage due to earth movement and pressure, it is extremely rare to find a policy that covers any loss due to that - and those few I have seen/heard about were either earthquake-related riders, ones required by local state code (at significant cost), or in very old policies from the pre-80's that had not ever been amended or revised by the issuer.


All is not lost - this may be a significant issue or not, but generally handleable with some repair and then careful moisture control o the area around the house. But - don't just let it go either, because it can get to the poiint of partial structural collapse, like if a foundation panel collapses into the basement or crawlspace.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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Source: Here are some of the pictures more to come

Answered 2 years ago by BTM80925

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Hello, this is Meranda with Angie's List.


While I can't answer your question about the cracks, I can recommend hiring a structural engineer to do an unbiased assessment. For a few hundred dollars, he or she should be able to look at the areas of concern in your home and tell you if it's normal settlement or a problem that needs to be fixed — and if so, how to go about it.


I see you're not an existing member, but if you'd like to find a highly rated structural engineer in your city, you can join Angie's List with the code ANSWERS to say 20% off your annual membership.


Beyond that, these articles from our Newsroom may be helpful to you:

Delaying foundation repairs could crack your finances

Is a quarter-inch crack in my foundation a concern?

Worried about a faulty foundation? Consult a structural engineer


Good luck with your project!

Source: 

Answered 2 years ago by Meranda

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When I was concerned about the cracks in my poured concrete foundation, I did what Meranda suggested and called an independent structural engineer first instead of a foundation repair company. Since he didn't have a stake in doing repairs, I got an unbiased opinion that cost $250 instead of a possible multi-thousand dollar repair for a non-problem.

Answered 2 years ago by Guest_9953265

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OK - see two pictures looking into corner of the foundation with one crack up the corner, and possibly cracking in the - is that a slab or just dirt at the bottom with the red fragments ?


You have some sort of parge or stucco coat - a layer of waterproofing overlay or textured concrete block surfacing or something like that on there - that is not your structural material, so to tell how serious the situation you are probably going to have to peel some of it off to see if the cracks are just in it or if they are a reflection of cracing in the underlying foundation - so can't tell from what you are showing whether this is structural or cosmetic cracking yet - will wait for more photos to be posted.


You had said some of the cracks go all the way through the wall - if you can see through the cracks or shove something through them, then you definitely need a foundation/structural engineer If just hairline cracks like you showed in first 2 photos, could be you have brick or concrete block wall and minor non-structural cracking at joints is occurring, causing surface cracking both inside and outside in the cosmetic surfacing.


Either way, either by you or the engineer, this surfacing is going to need to be cracked away in a couple of representative spots to see what is going on underneath it. Since you said concrete slabs outside and basement floors are shifting upwards and all the doors are sticking, it is likely this is structural - just a question of whether it can remedied with unjamming the doors (trimming the edges) and then controlling moisture, or if you have more issues going on that require structural repairs.


Oh - BTW - you did not say where you live, or if you have heard from neighbors if they have expansive/shrinking soil issues.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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Answered 2 years ago by BTM80925

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Darn - I was really hoping to be able to help you, but all I can say is those cracks are small enough and crooked enough they could be just normal settlement cracks, which commonly show up in the first few years after a house is built. What the first two plus the second batch of a half dozen show are definitely not wide enough that they would normally be considered a structural issue by themselves, though that wider wandering one is in that range. If it were not for the description of slabs lifting up all around and doors jamming my temptation would have been to fill them with grout (on the concrete part) and spackle (on the drywall) and see how much them open up in the next feew months to year.


This assumes that the walls are not tilting significantly out of plumb - say more than 1/2" or so out of plumb in their height, which (assuming they were plumb in the first place).


So - I can definitively tell you I just can't say - sorry. You could fill the cracks (even just in short lengths) and watch to see how they progress over the next few months, or figure the tilting slabs and jamming doors are enough to cause you to worry about possible structural issues and call an engineer now. If in doubt or you want piece of mind, or you travel a lot on business or are in the military and the at-home spouse is not up to dealing with this, then I wold certainly recommend getting an engineer in to look at it - the foundation and the slabs and doors and any other symptoms.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD




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