If you see a crack coming from your home's foundation, you may panic. Many people think foundation cracks are a big deal. However, while some may indicate there is a big problem, the majority are minor cracks that simply occur over time. Paying close attention to the size, shape and direction of the crack can clue you in to whether you are dealing with a minor crack or a major foundation problem. Here are a few things the foundation crack's appearance can tell you. 

Whether the Crack is Caused by Settling 

The majority of foundation cracks are caused by settling. As your home ages, it naturally settles or shifts. As it does so, small cracks can begin to form in the concrete foundation that is supporting your home. Luckily, this is not a major problem. Here are three signs that indicate the crack is caused by normal settling:

  • The crack is no more than two inches in length.
  • The crack is either horizontal or vertical and does not have any extended cracks, or branches, off of it.
  • The wall seems to be level where the crack is, versus a wall that looks like it may be protruding in certain areas around the crack.

If the Foundation is Sliding From the Footing

Another reason a home's foundation may begin to crack is because the footing that the foundation sits atop is beginning to slide away. This is often caused by flooding, earthquakes or mudslides that cause the soil the footing is sitting on to move or erode away. Unfortunately, this is a major problem and can be extensive. 

If your home is sliding off the footing, the foundation crack will most likely be horizontal in nature. The tell-tale sign of a footing problem is that the wall below the crack will either be pushed inward or protruding outward, while the wall above the crack will be the opposite. If the wall looks to be a different depth below and above a horizontal foundation crack, you may be dealing with footing problems. 

Whether the Crack Indicates the Foundation is Unable to Support the Home's Weight

As concrete ages, it deteriorates. As this happens, it will be unable to support the amount of weight it once was able to sustain. This is why foundation problems are more common in older homes than in newer ones.  If this is occurring in your foundation, the foundation may be crumbling under the weight of your home. Luckily, the crack will give you a sign that this is the problem that is happening. 

If your foundation is having trouble supporting the weight of your home, cracks that are in the shape of staircases often appear. If you see one or more foundation cracks that looks to go up, and then to the left or the right, and then up again, and to the left or right, you are most likely dealing with a foundation that can't support your home's weight. 

If you notice a crack in your foundation, you will want to inspect it to determine whether you have a major foundation issue. If it is a minor crack, you can repair in on your own with a concrete repair kit or foundation repair kit. If the crack indicates you have a major foundation problem, you will need to call in a foundation repair professional, like John Norris Foundation Repair LLC, to assess the crack and make any needed repairs.