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A solid foundation is part of any well-built home, providing support and protection against the elements. However, even the most well-constructed foundation can develop cracks over time. Various environmental factors can have an impact. While some foundation cracks are cosmetic and easily prepared, others can indicate more serious structural issues that need immediate attention.

Ignoring the warning signs can lead to expensive repairs, decreased property value, and even safety hazards. In this post, we’ll highlight 7 telltale signs of foundation cracks that every homeowner should be aware of so you can take proactive steps to maintain your home’s foundation.

What Causes Foundation Cracks?

Foundation cracks can occur due to a variety of reasons, some of which are beyond a homeowner’s control. Understanding the common causes of foundation cracks can help you better identify potential issues and take preventive measures to protect your home. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Soil movement: Some soils, like clay, can expand when wet and contract when dry. This can put pressure on your foundation and lead to cracks.
  • Poor drainage: When water pools around your foundation, it can seep into the soil and cause settling or shifting, resulting in cracks.
  • Tree roots: As trees grow, their roots can exert pressure on your foundation, causing it to crack or shift.
  • Plumbing leaks: Leaking pipes or water lines near your foundation can saturate the soil, leading to settling and cracks.
  • Extreme weather changes: Rapid temperature changes or extreme weather events, such as droughts or floods, can cause the soil around your foundation to shift, resulting in cracks.
Foundation cracks can be indicated in various ways through the house.

Spotting and Addressing Foundation Cracks

Now that we’ve covered some of the main culprits behind foundation cracks, let’s take a closer look at the seven warning signs that every homeowner should be aware of. The signs range from subtle to serious structural problems, and recognizing them early on is very important.

Horizontal Cracks

Horizontal cracks are one of the most severe types of foundation cracks, requiring attention right away. These cracks run parallel to the ground and often come from excessive soil pressure or water damage. If left untreated, horizontal cracks can lead to bowing walls, decreased structural integrity, and even foundation collapse. If you notice horizontal cracks in your foundation, it’s crucial to contact a professional immediately for an assessment and repair.

Vertical Cracks

Vertical cracks run perpendicular to the ground and are often caused by natural settling or temperature changes. While small vertical cracks (less than 1/8 inch wide) are generally not a cause for concern, larger cracks or those that continue to grow should be monitored closely. If vertical cracks widen or become more numerous, it’s important to have them evaluated by a professional to determine the underlying cause and appropriate course of action.

Stair-Step Cracks

Stair-step cracks, which resemble a staircase pattern, are common in brick or concrete block walls. These cracks are typically caused by foundation settling or soil movement and can indicate a more serious structural issue. If you notice stair-step cracks in your foundation walls, have them assessed by a professional promptly to prevent further damage!

Cracks Wider Than 1/4 Inch

The width of a foundation crack can be a good indicator of its severity. Cracks wider than 1/4 inch are generally considered more serious and should be addressed promptly. Wide cracks can allow water to enter your foundation, leading to additional damage and compromising the structural integrity of your home. If you notice cracks wider than 1/4 inch, it’s essential to have them evaluated and repaired by a professional.

Cracks That Continue to Grow

Foundation cracks that continue to grow over time are a red flag and should never be ignored. Even small cracks can widen and lengthen, indicating an underlying structural issue that requires attention. If you notice a crack that seems to be growing, it’s crucial to monitor it closely and document its progress. If the crack continues to grow or if you notice other signs of foundation issues, it’s time to call in a professional for an assessment and repair.

Sticky Doors or Windows

While it may not be immediately apparent, sticking doors and windows can be a sign of foundation issues. As your home’s foundation settles or shifts, it can cause doors and windows to become misaligned, making them difficult to open or close. If you notice this issue along with other signs, it’s worth looking into.

Warped or Sloping Floors

Uneven or sloping floors can be another indication of foundation problems. As your foundation settles or shifts, it can cause your floors to become unlevel, leading to a noticeable slope or unevenness. This issue can be particularly apparent in older homes or those with hardwood floors. If you notice uneven or sloping floors in your home, there’s something deeper going on.

Cracks wider than 1/4 inch indicate a foundation issue that needs attention ASAP.

A foundation crack that is wide and warrants expert guidance.

Recommended Maintenance

One of the most important steps is to conduct regular inspections of your foundation and the surrounding areas. This will help you identify potential problems early – before they have a chance to escalate.

Another key aspect of foundation maintenance is ensuring proper drainage and grading around your home. When water pools near your foundation, it can seep into the soil and cause settling or shifting. To prevent cracks from poor drainage, make sure that your gutters and downspouts are functioning properly and that the soil around your foundation is sloped so that water flows away from your home.

Finally, don’t forget about the small stuff. Sealing minor cracks and gaps in your foundation can help prevent water infiltration and further damage.

When to Call a Professional

If you notice multiple or severe foundation cracks, contact a foundation repair specialist right away. These cracks can indicate serious structural issues that require immediate attention to prevent further damage and ensure the safety of your home.

Another red flag to watch out for is cracks that are growing rapidly or worsening over time. Even small cracks can quickly escalate into major problems if left unchecked, so it’s crucial to monitor their progress closely. If you notice a crack that seems to be growing or if you start to see other signs of foundation issues, such as sticking doors or uneven floors, it’s time to call in a professional for an assessment.

Of course, if you have any doubts or concerns about the severity of a foundation problem, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek professional help. 


Your home’s foundation is its lifeline, and familiarizing yourself with the seven signs of foundation cracks can stop potential issues in their tracks.

Remember, foundation cracks should never be ignored. Regardless of the type of cracks you’re looking at, spotting the red flags outlined above would warrant a call to an expert.

If you have concerns about your home’s foundation, basement, or crawlspace, call Buckeye Basement Solutions in Columbus, OH, and surrounding areas.

One Comment

  • Thanks for helping me understand how foundation cracks are caused by soil or possible water intrusion into a property. I want to help my uncle in purchasing a home that can last for several years. I will talk to him about finding a basement contractor that can help with this someday.

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