Foundations often have cracks, most of which are not substantial concerns. However, long horizontal cracks are a different story.
Long horizontal cracks are an indication that the foundation wall is bowing inwards and may continue year after year until it becomes a problem that needs to be dealt with. Unfortunately, the repair can be difficult and expensive.
Long horizontal cracks are typically found in block foundation walls rather than poured concrete. Further, these cracks are often associated with excess water collecting in the soil outside the foundation because of poor drainage and the “freeze-thaw” cycle. Water freezes, creating inward pressure on the foundation, which can cause the crack to enlarge over time. (By the way, if you have a drainage problem outside the foundation, it should be dealt with for several other reasons, but that’s a topic for another newsletter).
The bottom line, if you see a long horizontal crack in the foundation, be aware that it may become a substantial problem. We would advise you to consult with a structural engineer for advice.
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