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Structural Cracks - How to Evaluate Them
Structural cracks cause prospective buyers to pull up short when looking at a prospective property. This article gives some basic guidelines that will allay most of these fears and help them make a more educated decision while understanding the cause of these cracks.

Basement Cracks - If you have cracks in you basement or crawl space walls, take note of their direction. If the cracks are small and almost vertical, then they are probable not a cause for concern. Most homes have "settlement cracks" or "shrinkage cracks". However, if they run more horizontally, we recommend consulting a structural engineer.

Wood Cracks - Cracks often appear in wood and are not significant if they run parallel to the grain of the wood. These cracks ( called "checks") often are the result of the wood drying and shrinking. However, the closer the crack comes to going across the grain, the more serious it could be.

Drywall Cracks - Hairline cracks in wallboard, plaster or concrete basement walls are usually not a problem unless they are wide and look tapered ("V" shaped). These cracks often radiate out from the corners of window and door openings.

Voids in Walls - Voids in concrete foundation walls usually are not serious unless they go deeper than an inch or so. Most of them are a result of inadequate compaction (vibration) of the concrete during placement. If a a "rock pocket" allows water to come in form the outside, then we recommend having it filled with injected epoxy or foam, depending on size and whether wet at time of repair.

Cold Joint - Cold joints are formed when concrete is poured after a substantial delay and separate layers are formed. These are distinguished by a fairly straight line in concrete and are usually not a problem unless water is leaking from joint.

Size of Cracks - Any crack over a 1/16th of an inch in width should be watched carefully and if you are purchasing a home, we recommend you have your home inspector evaluate whether to have a structural engineer called in to assess. If you are an existing home owner with cracks it is recommended that you measure cracks and ensure that there is no further movement. Cracks that leak water can be sealed using epoxy or foam and there are do-it -yourself kits available which are designed for foundation crack sealing.

Buying Home - Always beware of basement areas that are covered or blocked from view when buying a new home. Look for anything suspicious, such as, fans for removing moisture, missing vapour barrier or insulation, and boxes or furniture hiding areas of walls. Ask to see all of exposed walls, even if you have to come back another time. Freshly painted walls and floors can also be a sign of hiding water stains, be aware of effervescent stains on walls and floors, this is white mineral deposit left by water evaporating and is usually a good indicator that water was present.

Sump Pump - Check the exterior of home where sump pump discharges and see if there are signs of heavy discharge. Grass maybe worn away or water stains on concrete pad might indicate large quantities of water are being pumped out. Check inside of sump hole and activate pump and watch to see how much water runs back in after sump is emptied.

About the author:

The "Barrie Home Inspector" provides a professional home inspection for $199.00 which includes one free WETT inspection. We are fully insured and offer a 100% money back guarantee if not completely satisfied. Visit our web site for complete listing of "Do It Yourself" articles for home owners and a forum "Ask the Experts" which provides professional advice from tradespeople.
Napoleon Home Inspections provides many articles for the use of homeowners

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