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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
This chapter of the "Foundation Crack Bible" discusses in detail the process of recognizing & evaluating horizontal foundation cracks and signs of foundation damage. 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. 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.
Also see FOUNDATION BULGE or LEAN MEASUREMENTS which explains a simple method for determining how much bulge or lean is present in a foundation or wall, then see FOUNDATION MOVEMENT ACTIVE vs. STATIC which helps determine if the foundation movement is ongoing, and see FOUNDATION DAMAGE SEVERITY for a discussion of just how much foundation movement is likely to be a concern. Readers should also see How to Evaluate Cracks in Poured Concrete Slabs & Floors since those pages also assist in distinguishing among types of cracking in concrete.
To be used properly, this information must be combined with specific on-site observations at the particular building in order to form a reliable opinion about the condition of that building's foundation. Anyone having concern regarding the structural stability, safety, or damage of a building, foundation or other components, should consult a qualified expert.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
These notes presume that you are examining a wall which is entirely or nearly all below-grade level.
Horizontal Foundation Cracks Located High on a Foundation Wall
Horizontal foundation cracks located in the upper third of a concrete block wall (presuming most of the wall is below grade) are most likely to have been caused by vehicle loading or in freezing climates, by surface and subsurface water combined with frost. In northern climates if we see cracked mortar joints in the top third of a block wall, at about the same depth as the frost line in that area the damage is almost certainly due to frost. Often outside we'll find corroborating evidence such as drip lines below the building eaves confirming a history of roof spillage against the building, and back inside we may see that the foundation damage is occurring only at the building walls below roof eaves and not at the gable ends of the home.
Horizontal Foundation Cracks Located at Mid-wall Height on a Foundation
Masonry block or stone walls which are cracked and/or bulging inwards at mid height on the wall are likely to have been damaged by vehicle traffic or earth loading.
Horizontal Foundation Cracks Located Low on a Foundation Wall
The forces exerted by soils against a foundation wall increase geometrically as we move from surface level of the soil against the wall to the areas near the bottom of the wall. In other words, earth pressure is greatest at the bottom of the wall. This fact helps us distinguish between frost or water-related cracking and simple earth loading in some cases since a wall which has become dislocated laterally only at or near its bottom is likely to have been damaged by earth loading.
Horizontal Cracks in an Attached Garage Foundation
Construction methods for attached garages (as opposed to a garage located under a home and adjoining its basement) may create some special opportunities for foundation cracks:
Where are Horizontal Foundation Cracks Visible?
Horizontal foundation cracks are usually visible only from inside a basement or crawl area unless building is all masonry.
Lateral or horizontal movement of a masonry foundation wall inwards from earth pressure will often be seen at the first mortar joint above a basement or crawl space slab. Remember that the slab itself may be holding the very first course of masonry blocks or brick in place. This is a useful detail to keep in mind if you are using a plumb line and measuring tape to document the total amount and location of wall movement. The bottom course of concrete blocks or bricks, held in place by the floor slab, can usually be taken as a baseline of zero movement, from which other measurements to the plumb line are compared over the height of the wall.
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