If your historical home was built on a concrete block foundation and you have recently noticed cracks in its basement walls, then your home is currently experiencing a very serious foundation problem. Left alone, the foundation will continue to deteriorate and will eventually ruin the structural integrity of your house. Thankfully, a foundation contractor can use some specialized tools and monitor the cracks to determine their rate of spread. Armed with this information, they will use their professional experience to decide if your home's foundation needs to be repaired or is able to simply continue on an active monitoring program.
The Root Causes of Concrete Block Foundation Cracks
When you see cracking in your basement, you should always assume that your home has a major foundational issue that needs to be evaluated immediately by a structural engineer or licensed concrete contractor. Since the concrete blocks used to build your home's foundation were set on footers that were installed into the subgrade soil under your home, you will notice cracks in the basement when one of the footers cracks or becomes damaged from the weather. As the footer moves around in the soil, the concrete blocks will separate along their mortar lines and cause the cracks to appear.
Vertical foundation cracks are typically caused by a cracked footer, while horizontal cracks are generally caused by the soil around your historical home freezing each winter and then thawing in the spring. As the freeze-thaw cycle continues year after year, the pressure placed on the home's foundation will cause the masonry blocks to develop mortar line cracks.
Monitoring Devices for Concrete Block Foundation Cracks
When a structural engineer or concrete contractor comes out to evaluate your home's foundation, they will bring with them some specialized tools that are used to measure and monitor foundation cracks. A small, ruler-like device is used to measure the width and depth of the cracks to determine their severity. If the cracks are small enough that no foundational repair work needs to be immediately performed, then concrete crack monitors can be installed on top of the cracks. These simple devices are used to measure the cracks each month and determine the rate of spread of the cracks. If the cracks are stable over a period of time, then they can often be left alone. But, if the cracking continues to get worse, then your home's foundation will need to be professionally repaired.
For more information, contact local professionals like Certified Material Testing Products.