Photograph of a substantial settlement crack in poured concrete.Vertical cracks in building foundations
How to Diagnose & Evaluate Vertical Foundation Cracks

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Vertical foundation crack diagnosis:

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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Vertical Foundation Crack Causes, Patterns, Repairs

Photograph of a substantial settlement crack in poured concrete.

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.

Photograph of a substantial settlement crack in poured concrete.

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.

Photograph of a substantial settlement crack in poured concrete.

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

Vertical crack in a concrete block wall: cause & repair? (C) JSA

The vertical crack in a masonry block wall shown in our photograph is discussed at VERTICAL CRACKS in BLOCK WALLS

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.


Continue reading at VERTICAL MOVEMENT IN FOUNDATIONS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



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Articles on Vertical Cracks & Movement in Foundations

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VERTICAL FOUNDATION CRACKS at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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