Settlement of the house foundations over time is one of the most common causes of concrete cracks in residential homes. These concrete cracks usually present themselves as vertical cracks. In extreme cases, these vertical cracks even propagate through several levels of the home.
It should be noted though that not all settlement situations causes cracks in the concrete and not all cracks caused by settlement are a cause for panic and expensive repairs. A good concrete crack specialist will be able to recommend efficient, permanent and most of all the most cost effective solution for repairing settlement caused concrete cracks. Below are the different type of settlement situations and the risks associated with them.
Initial Settlement: As the name suggests, initial settlement is caused by the settlement of foundations of newly built homes. As soon as the foundations reach a certain depth and sufficiently compacted soil though, the settlement stops. At this stage, some cracks may have developed but will have stopped propagating as soon as the house settles over stable soil. The severity of the cracks and its effects on the strength of the load bearing elements of the house will determine whether or not extensive repairs will be needed. This means that if the settlement and crack propagation stopped before the load bearing elements of the house were compromised, you might not have to spend much to repair the cracks.
Continuing Settlement: continuing settlement on the other hand means that the load bearing elements of the house are still being subjected to continuing stress and the cracks, if present, will propagate further and may reach a point where the stability of the whole house is undermined. Because the settlement is continuing, repairs that may not be urgent now will be in the future and may become a lot more expensive if the other load bearing elements become affected. As such, cracks arising from this type of settlement should be checked ASAP by a qualified crack repair specialist.
Uniform Settlement: There are some cases of continuing or initial settlement wherein the whole of the structure settled uniformly. In such cases, concrete cracks may be minimal or may have not started at all. However, you would still need to have your house checked in this case by a professional to see whether or not the structure will continue to settle uniformly or if the integrity of the house is not at risk.
Differential Settlement: As the name suggests, differential settlement means that different elements / parts of the house are settling at different rates. This may be caused by a lot of factors which are discussed in this post but the important thing in this case is the fact that because different parts are settling at different rates, the load bearing structures are being subjected to stresses that they were not designed for. In these cases, concrete cracks appear on parts of the structure most affected. In time, these concrete cracks may prove detrimental to the integrity of the house.
Settlement is one of the biggest factors considered when it comes to evaluating cracks in residential homes. Depending on the type, effect and magnitude of the settlement, the proposed repairs could range from the simple cosmetic to the alarmingly urgent. If you have cracks in your home especially in its foundations, don’t hold off contacting a professional consultant like Sinai Construction.