Worried About Cracks In Your Home's Foundation? A Few Things To Do Before Calling The Structural Engineer
Anytime you find cracks in the foundation of your home, it is a good idea to have them evaluated. While it is true that most houses are going to settle a bit for a few years after they have been built, if this settling causes cracks, you need to make sure the whole foundation is still structurally sound. Cracks need to be fixed, no matter what caused them in the first place. However, you will need to find out the cause to have the correct repair done. A few cracks here and there are not going to suddenly cause the house to fall, but should still be evaluated. To ensure the structural engineer performing the inspection has as much information as possible, here are a few things you can do before he or she comes out.
Write Everything Down
No matter how big or small a crack is, you need to document it. Take a tape measure and measure the dimensions of the crack. Write these down in a notebook and indicate exactly where on the house the crack is. Be sure to jot down if the crack is going through only one block or more, and if any metal is showing or protruding (some foundations have rebar rods for added stability). Go back and check on the crack every week or so and not any changes, or the lack of change. Sometimes a crack will not change for a month or so and then all of a sudden be quite different. When this occurs be sure to note not only the changed, but what the weather was like since your last check.
While you are doing the check and taking down notes, snap a few pictures too. Do not think that pictures will be enough and leave out the notes though. It is hard to determine the depth, length and width of a crack from pictures. Tape the pictures into the notebook under the description. If using a digital camera, make sure to code the picture and the note so you can compare them.
Document Wall and Floor Cracks Too
Sometimes you may not notice all the cracks in the foundation, especially the sections that are below ground level. By documenting any cracks in the walls, floors and around doors and windows, the structural engineer will have a better idea of what is going on unseen.
As long as the cracks are not changing constantly, or drastically, the structural engineer may have you continue your monitoring a bit longer to be sure he or she comes up with the best plan of attack for your cracks. Of course, at any time you feel the house has become unsafe and is in danger or having something collapse, move your family out until you can have the repairs. Even if it is still safe, it is better to act on a feeling than to have someone get hurt.