Concrete consists primarily of cement, sand, gravel, and water. As the water in the slurry evaporates, the remaining ingredients cure into a hard, monolithic slab. Unfortunately, the curing process causes the concrete to shrink slightly, often resulting in hairline cracks. Larger stress cracks occur when a house settles or the ground beneath it shifts. These types of cracks typically don’t threaten the structural integrity of a building, but they do create an entry point for groundwater, insects and radon gas.
If you notice large, recurring cracks or bulging walls, don’t try to fix these conditions yourself. The cracks might indicate a more serious structural problem; call in a structural engineer for an in-depth evaluation.
How to spot the signs of foundation damage
There are some things to look for that could indicate potential foundation problems:
- Misaligned doors and windows (possible shift in the foundation)
- Doors that stick or don’t shut correctly
- Windows that are difficult to open or that have cracks in the glass
- Sloping floors or staircases (indicates a probable pitch in the foundation)
- Cracked drywall
- Gaps between the wall seams or between the wall and the ceiling
- Large cracks in the exterior concrete
- Water in the basement, crawl spaces, or around the perimeter of the home
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