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STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
BRICK FOUNDATIONS & WALLS
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
COLD POUR JOINTS, CONCRETE
COLUMNS & POSTS, DEFECTS
DISASTER BUILDING INSPECTION & REPAIR
EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED FOUNDATIONS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOD DAMAGE TO FOUNDATIONS
FOOTING & FOUNDATION DRAINS
FOOTINGS EXPOSED, Repair Methods
FOUNDATION BULGE or LEAN MEASUREMENTS
FOUNDATION CONSTRUCTION TYPES
FOUNDATION CONTRACTORS, ENGINEERS
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
GRADING, DRAINAGE & SITE WORK
GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS
INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE
MOBILE HOMES, DOUBLEWIDES, TRAILERS
MODULAR HOME CONSTRUCTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
RETAINING WALL GUARD RAILINGS
STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION
STRUCTURAL DAMAGE PROBING
STRUCTURAL WOOD ASSESSMENT
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
TIMBER FRAMING, ROT
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Foundation cracks and movement are discussed by type and location of foundation cracks, vertical foundation cracks, horizontal cracks, and diagonal foundation cracks, and shrinkage cracking. This chapter of the "Foundation Crack Bible" discusses in detail the process of recognizing & evaluating vertical foundation cracks and foundation damage. Foundation cracks, which are signs of foundation damage, can mean very different things depending on the material from which a foundation is made, the location, size, and shape of the foundation crack, and other site observations.
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In the photos shown here, substantive cracks appeared and continued to increase in size in this poured concrete foundation used to support a modular home which had recently been completed. The cracks and foundation movement were probably due to a combination of: poorly prepared foundation footings, blasting on an adjacent building lot to prepare that site for new construction, and possibly omission of steel reinforcement in the poured wall.
The cracks in this building foundation wall were visible shortly after construction as vertical hairline openings (less than 1/16" wide) in the right hand foundation wall, above grade and inside in the basement. Within a year the owner reported several times that the cracks were becoming noticeably wider.
A careful inspection of the building interior suggested that the front foundation wall and portions of the right foundation wall were settling. There were no corresponding cracks in the finished surfaces of the structure, probably because this was very stiffly-framed modular construction. Notwithstanding the absence of damage upstairs, this was a problem that deserved further evaluation and repairs. The builder may have repaired the foundation by supporting it from below using one of the methods described at FOUNDATION REPAIR METHODS.
This settlement crack probably occurred during initial footing settlement. Notice that it is wider at the top than the bottom of the crack.
This suggests that the footing to the left or right of the crack has moved downwards, with further downwards movement as we move further from the crack itself.
If this is new construction and the crack does not change in width the site conditions may have stabilized.
How to Diagnose the significance of types of vertical cracks in foundations
Multiple vertical cracks in building foundations
Vertical foundation cracks often appear in multiples multiple cracks in one or more area.
While a vertical foundation crack could be serious depending on its cause and on the type of foundation in which it appears (stone, brick, masonry block, concrete), these are often the least threat to the building. If there is significant vertical dislocation or signs of ongoing movement, further investigation is more urgent. If the cause is shrinkage (concrete, masonry block) it is probably less of a concern than if due to settlement. A vertical crack due to earth loading or frost would be unusual.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the cause & severity of vertical cracks in building foundations
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