The various causes of foundation problems in Cleveland can manifest in many different signs of damage. We’ll discuss each of these below and the likely underlying problem.
Foundation cracks are often the most prevalent and apparent signs of foundation issues. The cause and severity depend mainly on the gap’s position and width, so we’ll break down the different types by location below.
Thin Cracks in the Basement Floor
Many homeowners find hairline cracks in their slab or basement floor. These fissures very often form as a result of natural settling, which occurs in all homes. As long as the gap is level from one side to the other and doesn’t continue to grow, it typically doesn’t indicate significant damage. Most Cleveland homeowners simply have them sealed to keep water out.
Broad or Uneven Cracks in the Basement Floor
If floor cracks reach more than ⅛” in width, develop in a circular pattern, or have one side that is higher than the other, your home is likely suffering from frost heave or differential settling. They indicate that the soil under your house is sinking or bulging, and they often signify structural damage.
Vertical Wall Cracks
Wall cracks positioned vertically on your concrete block walls are often a sign of typical foundation settling. Provided they’re less than ⅛” wide, most foundation repair companies will seal them to eliminate water intrusion. Broader cracks may need stabilization to prevent further growth.
Horizontal Wall Cracks
Cracks positioned horizontally on your foundation wall generally signify an issue with hydrostatic pressure. This type of damage is common in Cleveland due to the expansive soil, above-average precipitation, and the high water table. If the pressure outside your foundation becomes too much, the ground forces your wall to crack and shift inward.
Foundation cracks shaped like steps on your concrete block wall form in response to differential settling, which frequently occurs in Cleveland. If portions of your foundation are left without the support they need, they can separate from the rest of your home and sink into the ground, leaving a step-shaped fissure in your foundation.
Stair-step cracks typically indicate severe structural damage and should be inspected by a foundation repair contractor immediately to prevent foundation failure.
Bowing Foundation Walls
When hydrostatic pressure builds around your home and puts inward force on your foundation walls, they will typically bow inward before a horizontal crack forms. The concrete is minimally flexible, so even slight bulging should be addressed quickly. Bowing walls can indicate a loss of structural integrity.
Sinking or Raising Foundation
The symptoms of differential settling and frost heave can easily be confused with one another, especially in areas like Cleveland, where they’re both prevalent. Homeowners suffering from these types of foundation movement generally experience sloped or unlevel floors in the crawlspace or basement, floor cracks that form circles where instability is occurring below, and wide floor cracks where one side pushes above the other.
Sinking and heaving foundations usually indicate structural damage and require stabilization immediately.
Moist or Wet Basement or Crawlspace
The above-average precipitation, clay soil, and high water table in Cleveland all lend themselves to water intrusion problems beneath the home. Homeowners often see pooling water in their under-home areas, water stains or wet spots on the concrete, mold formation on the walls, and efflorescence, which is a deposit of minerals from evaporating water that has entered your home.
Other symptoms include damp or heavy air in the basement or crawlspace, musty odors, and uncomfortably warm or cold air in your living space due to the moisture moving up from underneath.