Monday, March 1st, 2021 by Niles Erickson
Here in New Hampshire and Massachussets, cracks in our foundations are nothing new. If you’re seeing cracks in your walls, the wall separating from the floor or ceiling, or maybe you’re concerned that your walls seem to be bowing or caving in (especially those New England style fieldstone foundations!) – chances are you have a foundation problem.
There are many reasons why a home’s foundation may be experiencing issues. A contractor trained specifically in foundation repair will be the best option for homeowners looking for answers.
A skilled contractor will look for and diagnose foundation problems based on symptoms they spot and some technical inspection, as well. Two things they should look for are horizontal movement and vertical movement.
Foundation movement is very complex, and takes a professional to truly diagnose, but here’s the gist of each.
Vertical foundation movement can be spotted in a few ways. Cracks going up and down a wall, for example, are a tell-tale sign of vertical foundation movement. A home that is leaning can also be a type of vertical movement.
This happens when there is downward movement of the home’s foundation, such as sinking soft soil. Vertical foundation movement can also happen in climates where there are periods of ground freezing and thawing as this creates shrinkage or expansion of the native soils. This cycle can move the wall footings up and down. Considering our ground in this area freezes every year, vertical movement is not uncommon to homes in New Hampshire or Mass.
Horizontal foundation movement differs from vertical because is caused by pressure or force applied to the wall. Bulging or bowing foundation walls, with horizontal cracks, are a sign this is happening to your home. Horizontal foundation movement can also show up as leaning walls, or shearing walls – where the top part of the wall may hang over or stick out from the bottom part that is closest to the footing.
The force or pressure on the foundation walls is caused by the soil on the outside. It can become heavier as it becomes saturated with rain or snow melt. It can also expand with frost. This sideways force puts enormous strain on your foundation walls.
To sum it up, foundation movement is caused by many different factors. However, the symptoms will help a skilled professional properly diagnose your home’s foundation and implement a permanent fix. The best course of action for a homeowner concerned about their foundation is to call a reputable and trained contractor to conduct a full home inspection.