How to Spot Foundation Repair Issues

Your home’s foundation serves several important functions, including support and stability. It’s crucial to check the foundation regularly for issues like large stair-step cracks in the walls and sloping floors.

Foundation Repair

It is best to consult with a professional for the best foundation repair solution. A reputable company has the right tools, training and experience for this type of work. To learn more, visit

Foundation cracks that run diagonally are a serious issue. They indicate uneven settlement of the soil that supports the foundation wall or slab, and can lead to a collapsed or unstable foundation. In many cases, addressing the underlying problem will resolve the cracks. This can be done by installing support beams or by using special injected concrete to strengthen the affected area. It is often necessary to remove excess backfill or install new footings in severe cases of settling.

Stair-step cracks in brick or block foundation walls are usually caused by soil settlement. They may be exacerbated by poor drainage around the home. Ensure that your gutters are directing water away from the house and invest in a drain system to keep moisture from pooling around your foundation.

Another type of crack that you should not ignore is a diagonal crack that is wider at one end than the other. These types of cracks often mean that the foundation is shifting or sinking in one part of the house while the rest remains stable. This is called differential settlement and is a sign of a serious issue that needs to be addressed by a foundation repair contractor.

Diagonal cracks are the single most reliable indicator of a home’s settlement. This is true for both slab-on-grade foundations and pier and beam/crawl space foundations. Settlement can be due to many factors including low-strength soils, expansive soils, poorly designed construction, and/or water-related problems.

In most cases, cracks that are hairline or can fit a quarter in them are not structurally significant and do not require foundation repair. However, they should still be monitored and checked regularly to make sure they do not get worse over time. It is also a good idea to take photos of any visible cracks so that you can document the condition over time and call in a professional if they appear to be getting worse. A foundation repair specialist can help determine the source of the problem and recommend the best course of action.

Horizontal Cracks

If you see horizontal cracks in your foundation walls, you should be concerned. This type of crack is indicative of serious problems that can lead to the foundation failing entirely. This is because of hydrostatic pressure, which builds up around the foundation walls when water is unable to drain away from it. This causes the walls to bear excessive weight, causing them to weaken and crack.

Another cause of horizontal cracks is frost heave, which occurs when ground freezes and expands, putting excessive stress on the foundation walls. Additionally, lateral pressure caused by something heavy that is parked too close to the foundation can also increase pressure on the soil and cause foundation cracks.

When a home has significant horizontal cracks, it is best to contact a professional to perform a foundation inspection and recommend repair services. These can include methods such as hydraulic jacking to lift sunken areas of the foundation, installing steel piers to stabilize the foundation, and reinforcing the cracked walls with epoxy injection or carbon fiber straps.

Generally, horizontal cracks should be repaired as soon as they are noticed to prevent further damage and reduce the risk of water leaks. This is especially important in Ottawa because of the fast weather changes that can exacerbate the problem and cause other structural issues.

In some cases, a homeowner may be able to fix these types of cracks on their own using products such as polyurethane foam or epoxy, depending on the severity and size of the cracks. However, for severe cracks and those near doors and windows, it is a good idea to call a professional to ensure long-term stability and safety of the house.

While vertical cracks aren’t as worrisome, it’s still a sign that there’s an issue with the foundation. Typically, these cracks are narrower at the top and wider at the bottom of the wall. They can be caused by settling, construction errors, and the concrete curing process, but they are more likely to cause water infiltration into the basement and need to be fixed promptly.

Stair-Step Cracks

Stair-step cracks, so named because they often look like a set of stairs, appear in brick or concrete block walls and are an indication of structural problems. These cracks can indicate differential settlement, a condition where one area of your foundation settles faster than another, or hydrostatic pressure (the water pushing against the foundation). These cracks should not be ignored, and you should consult a professional to assess their severity and determine an appropriate repair method.

Stair step cracks typically run horizontally along mortar joints or through the bricks themselves. They may extend down the foundation wall and lead towards doors or windows, or they can run up and down the vertical surface of the foundation. They can be a cause for concern if they are wider than 1/4 inch, but are less likely to be a serious issue than a bulging or sagging wall.

The best way to avoid structural issues caused by stair-step cracks is to keep moisture away from the foundation and to prevent groundwater from seeping into the home. This can be done by ensuring that gutters and downspouts are in good working order, and that the landscape is sloped so that drainage channels water away from the foundation.

When it comes to repairing these types of cracks, the best option is to have a professional mason assess the severity and recommend an appropriate repair method. Small, non-structural cracks can sometimes be repaired with DIY solutions such as epoxy injections or hydraulic cement, but these fixes will only provide a temporary solution. Professional repairs will be able to address the root cause of the cracking and provide long-term stability and strength.

If you notice any of these types of cracks in your foundation, contact a professional mason for a free inspection. Early diagnosis and repair of foundation problems will help to reduce damage, save money, and keep your home safe for your family. Contact us today to learn more about our services and to schedule your appointment! We proudly serve Royal Oak, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, Grand Rapids, and the surrounding Michigan communities.

Thin Cracks

Unlike diagonal cracks and stair-step cracks, thin vertical foundation wall cracks are not necessarily a structural issue. These cracks may indicate a small amount of movement in the foundation, but they’re typically cosmetic and don’t need to be repaired immediately. However, it’s important to monitor these cracks to see if they grow or if other signs of foundation movement appear. For example, if these cracks are found near doors or windows and interfere with their alignment or ease of use, they’re likely a sign of a serious problem that requires professional inspection and repair.

While these cracks aren’t a structural problem, they’re still a concern because they can allow water to enter the basement. If you find these thin cracks in your home, use a caulking gun to fill them with a waterproof sealant or epoxy injections. It’s also a good idea to install a sump pump to ensure that any moisture that seeps into the basement is quickly and completely removed to prevent damage to your foundation or other parts of your home.

These types of cracks are often caused by a settling foundation, as well as the expansion and contraction of soil due to temperature fluctuations. Other causes include improper grading, leaky water lines or sewer lines, and tree roots. Whether your cracks are horizontal, jagged diagonal or stair-step, it’s critical to get them assessed by a foundation expert as soon as possible.

If the cracks are narrow enough that a quarter can fit into them, they aren’t a problem and don’t need to be repaired. But, if they are wider or growing over time, it’s a sign of a major problem that requires prompt attention. Depending on the severity of the crack, you can hire a contractor to fill these cracks with hydraulic cement or epoxy crack injections. If these cracks continue to grow or worsen, contact a foundation repair specialist right away. These professionals will evaluate the cracks and recommend the best course of action to ensure that your foundation is safe and secure.