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The Home Depot

Top Cracked Foundation Causes

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Handyman > Top Cracked Foundation Causes
Top Cracked Foundation Causes

Cracks in your home’s foundation can cause significant damage as well detract from the appearance of your home. Many foundation cracks are not the result of a sudden event such as an earthquake or a tornado, yet they can have devastating impact on the structural integrity of a home.


The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has informative details about some of the issues that can cause foundation cracks. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that as many as 25 percent of the homes in the United States contain some degree of foundation damage.


Once you know the top cracked foundation causes, you can take steps to reduce risk factors around your home.

  1. In addition, grade the soil around the foundation of your home to ensure that it slopes about ¼-inch for every 12 inches for a proper grade.

    1.Too Much Moisture

    If the soil around your foundation absorbs too much moisture, the soil will gain volume and swell. This swelling can create a high degree of pressure on the foundation, causing it to crack.


    Too much moisture can come from a variety of sources. A plumbing leak near the foundation can saturate the soil with too much water. Similarly, a high water table or high level of surface water can also cause the soil to swell. Surface water that collects near the foundation could be a result of improper drainage, pooling rainwater or irrigation.


    Check your roof runoff to ensure that it does not deposit excess amounts of water near the foundation of your house. An extensive gutter system will collect and route rainwater away from your home. Connect downspouts to gutters and direct the downspouts away from the foundation.


    In addition, grade the soil around the foundation of your home to ensure that it slopes about ¼-inch for every 12 inches for a proper grade.

  2. 2.Too Little Moisture

    If drought conditions cause the soil around your foundation to shrink, this can also place excessive pressure on the foundation. Often, the soil closest to the foundation surface dries out the fastest, which can also affect the integrity of the foundation.


    Another problem can occur if the soil around the foundation is saturated with water at the time of construction. The foundation will hold moisture longer than the soil. Because the foundation and the surrounding soil lose moisture at varying rates, the house will settle.

  3. 3.Varying Moisture Content Causes Cracks

    If the soil around a home’s foundation varies in condition – with some soil being moist and heavy and other soil being dry and light, the house may settle and heave differently in response to the different soil moisture content. The moist and heavy soil will create pressure on the house and the dry and light soil will allow the house to shift out.


    This expansion often occurs seasonally with the change from warm to cold and cold to warm. You may find that part of your house heaves in response to a temperature change and the other part does not shift, causing a foundation crack.

  4. 4.Improper Foundation Compaction

    If the soil around a house foundation did not receive adequate compaction during construction, the house may settle unevenly. Soil that is not compacted tightly will not support the foundation and keep it from shifting.


    Although some foundation cracks may be beyond your control, resulting from improper construction techniques, you should be able to avoid some cracking by keeping the moisture level of the soil around your house at the proper point.


    If your foundation has cracked beyond minor repair, get in touch with a foundation repair contractor today.

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