When to Worry About Cracks in Walls

EmailEmail Print Share

03 Nov 2010

Cracks in foundation walls can be of no significance or a major structural defect, which can be expensive to correct. Proper evaluation is therefore very important to determine; (1) If repair work is warranted and, (2) Details for effective repairs.

As a licensed professional engineer, I am called in to evaluate cracked foundation walls frequently. Unfortunately, repairs for defective foundation walls can easily cost thousands. However, much money can also be wasted based on incorrect evaluation by unqualified persons.

A crack of this nature definitely warrants further investigation. While the crack itself is vertical there is movement along the horizontal plane, which indicates a shifting of the foundation or ground beneath.

Cracks in foundation walls typically occur within several years after a house is built, although there are exceptions (such as tree roots). Owners often do not notice cracks until many years after initial formation. More often a foundation crack becomes a major issue when discovered during a pre-purchase inspection.

Cracks are generally considered vertical, horizontal or diagonal (sloped), even though most cracked-wall conditions include all three categories.

Narrow vertical cracks are most often caused by minor settlement or normal shrinkage. Such cracks are not structural defects. Wide vertical cracks (exceeding 3mm in width) may be caused by significant settlement problems that require detailed engineering inspection and evaluation.

Horizontal cracks are much more of a concern than vertical cracks, especially in block foundation walls.

Repairing horizontal cracks

Cracked foundation walls can be permanently repaired, without complete replacement, as long as inward movement is not excessive. The key issue is whether the wall can continue to provide vertical support for the house without risk of severe damage.

Inward movement is typically measured relative to base of wall, using a 1.5 metre length spirit level or plumb string-line. Maximum inward movement (deflection) usually occurs at the horizontal crack and near mid-height of the wall.

If inward movement of a cracked foundation wall exceeds 25mm, consideration must be given to complete replacement of the wall. Cost for replacement is typically much greater than cost of bracing. Therefore, having repair work performed before inward movement increases is essential to minimising repair costs.

For more information visit:

Article courtesy of: www.home-dzine.co.za

Readers' Comments Have a comment about this article? Email us now.

About the Author
Home - Dzine

Home - Dzine

Your online source of ideas and inspiration.

Similar Articles

Without breaking the bank, you can add new floors,...

The kitchen remains the heart of the home and colour,...

The major factor determining whether to call a handyman...

View all articles

Top Articles

Disputes between landlords and tenants are common,...

A UCT architectural student tackles social, economic and...

If you’re a first-time buyer earning R3 501 to R15k per...

View all articles
Top Articles
10 Feb 2016
Morningside, Rivonia, Rosebank and Bryanston will see much residential d...
10 Feb 2016
Offering sophisticated retirement living, Lazuli Coastal Lifestyle Estat...
10 Feb 2016
The new multi-million rand Tugela Ferry Mall and Jozini Shopping Centre ...
10 Feb 2016
A UKZN architecture student has proposed an environmental research facil...
10 Feb 2016
Offering the ultimate seaside retreat, Flamingo Bay is being developed o...
Get the latest property news.
Select your options:

Your browser is out of date!

It looks like you are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer.

If you are using Internet Explorer 8 or higher, please verify that your Internet Explorer compatibility view settings are not enabled.

For the best browsing experience, update to the latest Version of Internet Explorer or try out Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

Please contact our Property24 Support Team for further assistance. Tel. +27 (0)861 111 724