Cracks in Walls – Settlement or Frost Heave?

Cracks In Walls

Homeowners often find themselves at a loss when they have to deal with cracks in walls. Many turn to quick fix solutions that only result in cosmetic repair of the cracks. The problem with this is that a solution to the underlying cause of the cracks will not have been applied. The cracks are therefore likely to become worse over time.

Discovering the underlying cause of the cracks in walls is vital if you want to ensure that you apply the right solution. To do this, you must be able to distinguish between cracks caused by settlement and others caused by frost heave.

Cracks caused by settlement

The following are signs that suggest the cracks in your walls are the result of the natural settlement process.

  • Significant cracking near the footing of the foundation

This is often a sign of poor backfilling or defects in infilling. You will need to invest in backfilling once again to ensure that the foundation is able to settle evenly.

  • Signs of sinking or settling

If you note signs of settling of the concrete slab such as the slab top having sunk far below the trace line of the foundation walls, there is a high chance that you’re dealing with settlement cracks.

Cracks caused by frost heave

Cracking caused by frost heave is likely to occur in cycles based on weather conditions. The following are signs that you may be dealing with these cracks:

  • Signs of cyclical movement

These may include crumbling and broken edges of concrete slab foundations. This is a sign of recurrent movement.

  • Signs of water damage

These may include water stains and the growth of mold. A history of water damage in the building can also be considered a sign of frost heaving.

  • No signs of backfill problems

If there are no signs of back-fill problems, the cracks are likely to have been caused by pressure acting against the foundation walls.

What to do

If you spot cracks in walls, it is important to get in touch with a foundation repair expert. This is important even if you are able to diagnose the underlying cause of the cracks. Solving foundation issues should be left to the professionals.

It is also important to contact a professional as soon as you notice a problem with your foundation. Repairing the foundation in the early stages will be cheaper and easier than when the problem has escalated.