There’s a crack in my foundation, what do I do?

So you’re buying/selling a house, and the home inspector identifies cracks in the foundation/basement wall/slab. The inspector advises you to hire a structural engineer to investigate. What do you do?

First, don’t panic. Next, give us a call or email – and we’re happy to help. 

If you send us your inspection report, we can review the issues the inspector is concerned about. After reviewing the report and any photos, we can quickly determine if a site visit is necessary. If so, an engineer will visit in person. 

Cracking can be very minor – just due to concrete shrinking – when it shrinks it cracks. Small vertical cracks are usually not a concern. A horizontal crack in a foundation wall suggests that the wall is bowing inward – which could be a big deal. Horizontal cracks are more critical than vertical cracks. If a vertical crack is wider at top then the bottom, that means the wall is rotating, and is an indication of soil settlement.

Foundation cracks occur for a number of reasons. Older concrete foundations are often under or un-reinforced. Over time, foundations will naturally settle. A settlement of ¾” is not uncommon and considered acceptable. Large settlements may be due to inadequate soil bearing strength, such as building on a fill. 

Some soils are prone to expand and contract, like clay soils, which will often crack a foundation with changes in ground moisture content. Tree roots are notorious for cracking foundations. Water infiltration from clogged downspouts, poor grading around the building perimeter, or natural springs can all be the cause of foundation settlement. 

In cases of foundation cracks, the engineer can determine if the cracking needs to be fixed and how to do so. The type of fix for a crack in a basement wall or foundation is all dependent on what is going on. Multiple methods are available. Whether cosmetic – or elaborate (caulking the crack, or designing a structural fix). Every situation is different. 

Regardless of what is causing a crack in your foundation, we can expertly deduce the problem and find the right solution.