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Question DetailsAsked on 1/23/2018

Cost to repair three foot vertical foundation crack caused by pipe in cinder block crawl space foundation?

Beach house at Jersey Shore. Vertical crack three cinder blocks high (entire foundation) in a beach cottage foundation. Caused by running a water pipe out to a spigot through the foundation. From the top, through one block and joint line between blocks, through joint line horizontally, then stair steps another block. Slight displacement of block, no bulging of blocks. This is above ground on sand. How structural is a problem like this and how much would it cost to repair?

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With stairstepping and breaking right through one block, I seriously doubt if this was "caused" by running a water line through the wall - unless it froze in the past and expended enough to split the blocks - which I find a bit far fetched. My guess is the wall is settling - given sand foundation on beach most likely on the side of the crack which would be "under the stairs" if the crack is seen as a staircase. So likely, from the top of the crack, the side opposite to the direction which the crack goes down through the wall has likely settled. The crack might have opened up at the pipe just because that was already weakened by the pipe penetration, so that is where it cracked first as the foundation settled - but that specific location may well not be the actual location of the "cause" of the issue.

Because of the through-foundation cracking and displacement of the block, I would advise having a Structural Engineer look at it and come up with a fix - which if minor might be some grouting of the wall and maybe a few tierods or through-bolts and reinforcing steel beams to hold it together, if more serious (particularly if the foundation is within 5 feet or so of a downward incline which mioght bemoving or gets high water level water in under it in the sand (shoreline at high tide within say 25-50 feet), or if storm surge/waves have reached to the foundation and undermined it in the past (even if backfilled afterward), then it might need underpinning of the wall or a retaining structure in front to stop the settlement which I am inferring is happening. Could also be (you could dig down by hand locally to confirm or disprove this) if this is a "beach cottage" as opposed to a full-fledged home, that no strip footing was put under it and it is just cinder blocks laid in a trench in the sand, sometimes on top of a cinder block on its side or a row of them laid crosswise to the foundation itself, which would be expected to settle with age because that is not a "proper" foundation. If it has a concrete strip footer under the blocks, if that is NOT significantly cracked then it is obviously less serious than if that is cracked too or if ti does not have one at all.

Structural Engineer (your Search the List category to find a well-rated and reviewed one) investigation might run $250-500 typically, and repair from typically $500-1000 for a simple one, on up into the couple to several thousand $ if a section of the foundation needs replacement or underpinning is needed but the problem does not involve an overall slope instability problem or gross foundation failure.

Foundation Repair would be the normal Search the List category for a contractor - the engineer can also commonly help you with referrals of contractors he has worked with and trusts.

FYI - here are several related previous questions which might answer4 some of your questions too -

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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