We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but yes, you should worry about horizontal foundation cracks. Horizontal foundation cracks – compared to vertical ones – are almost always structurally significant. In other words, they will affect your home’s structural integrity if they aren’t repaired. The good news is horizontal foundation cracks can almost always be repaired.
This article will go over what causes horizontal foundation cracks, how horizontal cracks differ from vertical cracks, when you should start worrying about a horizontal crack, repair techniques for horizontal cracks, and more.
What Causes Horizontal Foundation Cracks
Horizontal foundation cracks are usually caused by hydrostatic pressure. When the soil around the foundation gets saturated with water that can’t drain off, hydrostatic pressure builds up and exerts a tremendous force against foundation walls. The walls will eventually crack and even bow inward if the pressure isn’t relieved. Concrete block foundation walls are especially susceptible to this lateral pressure.
Horizontal cracks are also sometimes caused by something heavy on the ground next to the foundation wall—for example, a big truck parked in a driveway or a dumpster.
If you live in a cold climate, frost heave can also cause foundation cracks. This happens when the soil expands as it freezes and pushes against the foundation wall.
Since foundation walls are load-bearing, foundation cracks threaten the home’s structural integrity. They shouldn’t be ignored.
For more information see, Normal Foundation Cracks: Is There Such a Thing?
Foundation Cracks Vertical vs. Horizontal
Unlike horizontal foundation cracks, vertical cracks usually do not affect the building’s structural integrity. This is why we say that horizontal foundation cracks are structural and vertical foundation cracks are non-structural.
As we noted above, horizontal foundation cracks are structural in that they can affect your home’s structural integrity. For this reason, they’re considered more serious than vertical foundation cracks. All horizontal foundation cracks need immediate attention from either an experienced foundation repair contractor or a structural engineer.
Vertical cracks are often hairline and are mainly caused by shrinkage during the concrete curing process. While they aren’t considered structural, that doesn’t mean they’re harmless. Vertical hairline cracks can allow water to seep into your basement or crawl space, and hydrostatic pressure can even push water through invisible cracks in the foundation wall. In other words, cracks you didn’t even know were there. So, vertical cracks should be sealed.
Note: If the vertical cracks are wider than hairline or you have many vertical cracks next to each other, it may be something more serious.
When Should You Worry About a Foundation Crack?
You should worry more about horizontal cracks because they’re almost always structural. While you shouldn’t ignore vertical cracks, they don’t merit the same level of concern as horizontal cracks because they’re usually not structural.
You should be concerned about…
If you see any of the above or even something else that you find suspicious, contact a foundation repair contractor immediately for an inspection. Foundation problems get worse over time and will cost more money to repair if you wait.
How To Prevent Horizontal Cracks
Since water causes most foundation problems, including horizontal cracks, you can help prevent cracks by getting groundwater around your home’s foundation under control:
If you’re worried about one or more horizontal foundation cracks and you’re in our service area, contact us today for an inspection and repair estimate.