Trouble With Your Foundation? A Guide to Cracks and Solutions

Finding a leak in your basement or crawl space is stressful enough on its own. Under most circumstances, at least, you’ll be able to find the source of the leak and plug it before things get worse. If the source of the leak is a crack in your foundation, however, you’re going to have a more complex problem on your hands.

Foundation cracks come in many forms. If you’re going to waterproof your home, though, you’re going to need to seal that crack before proceeding. With that in mind, let’s break down the different kinds of cracks your Missouri foundation may endure and what the process of fixing those cracks may look like.

What Causes a Foundation Crack?

Fluctuations in temperature are the primary culprits behind foundation cracks. As the temperature warms and cools over inconsistent Midwestern seasons, your foundation will grow and shrink accordingly. Quick changes in temperature combined with external pressure from the soil can cause your foundation to crack in its attempt to accommodate the weather.

Different Types of Foundation Cracks

That said, your foundation can suffer from a variety of different crack types. These include: 

  • Vertical cracks. Vertical cracks are most likely to appear in newer homes. If the wood used in your supports is green, it may more quickly bow under the pressure of your home or due to fluctuations in the weather. These cracks will appear in the weakest parts of your foundation, like your footing.
  • Horizontal cracks. Homes with concrete and brick foundations most frequently see horizontal cracks. These cracks are indicative of a shift in the foundation – likely due to settling – or external pressure from groundwater and soil.
  • Diagonal cracks. Your home may also settle unevenly, leading to a diagonal crack in your foundation. These cracks are typically wider on one side than they are on the other.

No one of these crack types is worse than the others. All, however, are reason for concern. If you can see a foundation crack inside of your home, you’re going to need to reach out for professional guidance – and quickly.

Signs That Your Foundation May Have Cracked

If you think your foundation may have cracked, but you can’t find the spot where it has, you’ll want to keep an eye out for some of the following symptoms:

  • Cooler temperatures in your basement. As moisture enters the air, it makes it more difficult for you to temperature control your space.
  • Water damage. Naturally, signs of water damaged (curling paper products, rotting fabric, warping wood) all indicate that you, at a minimum, have a leak. If you’re noticing water damage but not a visible crack, it’s time to talk to a consultant about your foundation.
  • Pests. If water can get into your home, so can small animals and insects.
  • Wet walls or puddles. Dampness may take many forms, including standing water. You’ll want to keep an eye on your walls, though, to see if they’re gathering any water after a Missouri storm has passed through.
  • Mold clusters. A dark, wet, and cool basement is the perfect environment for mold to grow in. Keep an eye out for clusters, and be sure to treat them quickly if you spot them growing in your basement. After you’ve removed them, it’s time to start hunting for your leak.
  • Bad smells. Many of the aforementioned crack symptoms generate unpleasant smells. If, no matter what you do, you can’t drive the bad smells from your home, check your basement for a leak. A foundational crack may be the source of your problems. 

If you spot these symptoms on their own or in combination, then you’ll want to get in touch with a contractor ASAP.

Anticipating and Preventing Cracks

While you can’t control Missouri’s precipitation, there are some steps you can take to ensure your foundation doesn’t crack. Different preventative measures include: 

  • Lawn watering. Dry soil particles grow smaller the longer they’re not exposed to rain. When a drought breaks, water will more easily be able to make its way toward your foundation. To prevent this rush, try and water your lawn on a consistent basis. Running sprinklers once a day can save you a lot of money on repairs.
  • Gutter cleaning. No one wants to do it, but cleaning your gutters can do your home a lot of favors. When you clean the leaves and gunk from your gutters, you ensure that rainwater doesn’t dive straight down toward your foundation. As a result, you’ll be able to preserve your foundation for longer.
  • Keep trees a safe distance from your home. While you won’t be dealing with Ents, should you plant trees too close to your home, you may have to deal with root growth. By keeping trees an average of 20 feet away from the perimeter of your home, you ensure their roots won’t break up your foundation. Alternatively, you can place a root guard around your foundation to redirect lengthy roots.

Keeping your home up to snuff through these means will likely save you a lot of money in the long run.

Think your foundation may have a crack? Don’t wait for the water damage to get worse. Reach out to your local contractor to have your crack repaired as soon as possible.