Your foundation is cracked. Is this normal? What distinguishes normal cracking from structural cracking? Who should you call: a contractor, home inspector or structural engineer?
I can't tell you how many times we have heard from Residential Homeowners: "I have gotten 3 bids to fix my basement. They all have 3 different methods for repair and 3 very different prices. On top of that a 4th contractor said I didn't need anything at all."
With such differing opinions, consulting a structural engineer may be appropriate.
There are certain structural tolerances that are engineering standards. Yet there are also many gray areas of which are open to interpretation. As a rule the homeowner's money spent for repair should be a return on the investment of their home for the specific structural solution, without sending "red flags" that would hinder resale value.
There are many reasons for a foundation to crack. Some are simply settling issues that do not pose any real danger or threat to the building. However, others are a clue to a serious underlying stability problem. The foundation may have been built where expansive (clay) or collapsible (sand) soils are known to exist. If you combine these soil types with extreme moisture and/or poor drainage, the foundation may become unstable. Something as simple as rain run-off from the roof and allowing the water to "pool" can cause a foundation to shift. Structures built on back-fill lots are always in danger of weakened foundations because of potential air pockets in the soil and soil composition itself.
Sinking foundations, cracked and buckled walls and uneven floors are problems commonly faced annually by some quarter-million homeowners. Cracks are clearly the first and easiest signs to notice of foundation settling problems. Buckling in foundation walls, cracks in ceiling or walls and cracked or buckled interior concrete floors to name a few. If any one of these signs occur, you are advised to consult a Engineering Service to inspect the situation. Foundation problems rarely stabilize and correct themselves - they usually become worse over time thus increasing the severity of the damage and the loss of investment.
Swiftly responding to warning signs of compromised foundations will lead to the lowest repair costs. The above signs are indications of problems that should be inspected by a professional.
A residential engineer is uniquely qualified to identify foundation problems, their seriousness, and best available methods to correct the problem and insure structural stability to your home. Never hesitate to consult an engineer - your home's foundation is a major component and the longevity (and value) of your home depend on it.
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