What I'm Seeing Now

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When You See A Small Foundation Crack, Remember It For Later!

When you see a small foundation crack, remember it for later!

It might show up again!

Small foundation cracks are normal.

All foundations will move, some more than others.

Usually a foundation will find its position and stop moving in 3 to 5 years.

But not always!

Can you see it?  This is a very small crack.

Often such small cracks don't even bisect the wall.  A poured-concrete foundation wall, like this one, is about 9" thick.  It is filled with supportive re bar and very strong.

But concrete cracks!  For various reasons.  And a single crack here or there is not unusual.

Often indoors such cracks are hidden by finished walls and impossible to see.   Sometimes they are hidden behind insulation and you can't see the crack.  In each of these locations it is often not possible to see anything a crack may be causing, like leaking into the house.

But sometimes, just sometimes, you can see evidence of leaking!

And in this house, such evidence was evidently evident.

Staining is visible on the floor molding of the furnace room, very close to where the foundation crack was seen outdoors.

You can see that this staining has happened often, showing many shapes and colors.

Recently we have had snow here, and melting snow.  The ground is quite saturated.

That saturation moves slowly, increasing pressure against foundation walls.  Sump pump drainage will eventually carry it off, but in the meantime there is water pressure against foundation walls.

And behind the door, behind the staining on the outside door trim, there is visible wetness.   And wetness with mud!  That is a sure sign this is ongoing leaking, from the small foundation crack right in that location, which is bisecting the wall.

It's not a huge leak.  But a continuous one.  And it's an easy fix, with an epoxy injection into the crack. 

In this case access to the crack makes for that easy repair.  Insulation is easy to remove and replace.  Much easier than drywall.

My recommendation:  when you see a crack outside, remember it for later.  It may or may not demonstrate indoors, but when it does a plan can be made to deal with it.   This crack is not frightening.  An epoxy injection is a common fix, and very permanent.  It stops cracks in their tracks!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 57 commentsJay Markanich • March 04 2015 01:59AM

Comments

This is great information and another reason why people must have home inspections.  

Posted by Christopher Pagli, "I Stay Open Until You Close" (William Raveis Legends Realty Group) over 5 years ago

Thanks William.  Another reason of about a thousand!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, great advice, don't panic but be cautious! It pays to take notice. Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 5 years ago

Good morning Jay. I always pay attention to cracks. Some of them may be nothing and then some of them can really cause some problems.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 5 years ago

We inspectors try to pay attention Wayne.  A note reviewed later when inside the house can bring lots to mind.

For sure Michael.  And behind drywall, by the time this one manifests, it would be problematic.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

This is an issue here with freezing and thawing playing havoc with walls as well....braced walls are very common here.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 5 years ago

It's that kind of in and out pressure that can cause a breach, S&D.  And movement can continue forever, albeit slowly.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Knock on wood I haven't noticed any cracks in our home we purchased last October.  Time will tell 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 5 years ago

Thanks Jay for a very useful information which will help us in the Real Estate Sales to distinguish and explain a minor defect as opposed to a major problem in the eyes of the buyer.  Even though we are not inspector structural or otherwise, having construction knowledge will help diffuse a potential loss of a sale or a buyer

Posted by Sham Reddy CRS, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) over 5 years ago

When people ask me what percentage of foundations leak, James, the answer is 100%.  But time is the factor!  Yours might take a long, long time!

Mine leaked in two different spots in the first year!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Sham - foundation cracks can be repaired, some more easily than others!  But houses won't collapse, generally!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I really appreciate calm inspectors like yourself who have solutions - not just panic. Didn't know about epoxy injections

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC (Keller Williams Capital Properties) over 5 years ago

Yes, that one definitely is doing some damage - it's good to hear they are so easy to fix.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) over 5 years ago

They have been around for some time Lise.  Seventeen years ago I had it done on two leaking foundation cracks and it has been dry since.

Kat - it really is, and not for much money.  The two cracks in our house took the guy about 2 hours and less than $1000.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Yes Jay, more proof that home inspections are a must. From a good inspector who finds stuff like this that is. 

And that would be you!

 

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 5 years ago

Good morning Jay. Your insights are scary but important. Always informative. Thank you.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 5 years ago

Thanks Andrea, when I went downstairs I remembered right where to look first.

Sheila - the house is the house.  And sometimes things are a bit scary.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

The only thing better than such a crack discovered by a home inspection would have been a repaired crack noticed by a home inspector and assurance for the buyer that the wall was, at that time, fine.

That's better for a buyer than hearing comments about the repaired crack after closing.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

We have very active soil in Oklahoma City with a strong clay content. With our weather either very dry or when it rains typically a downpour, the clay either clumps in wet for a long time or acts like fine sand particles when excessively dry. This is why we are using more post tension slabs when we find in soil test the clay is too heavy. Structural engineers are important in this process and often they don't site piers immediately unless you neglected the foundation for too long. They ususally measure and then come back in six month intervals to check the amount of movement.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 5 years ago

I agree with that Lenn.  But here the alternative is a professional repair with a receipt.  The buyers would be okay with that.

Joe - we have expansive clay soils here too.  Soil tests can help determine what kind of foundation to put in.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

This is a good informational piece without raising alarm. Thank you.

Posted by Gloria Laughton Allston, Realtor(NJ)/Broker(NY) (COLDWELL BANKER RESIDENTIAL BROKERAGE) over 5 years ago

Great post!  Thanks for the info! 

Posted by Amber Marshall, Amber the Agent (F1rst Realty Company) over 5 years ago

This is a subject that needs more exposure...Very good posting and thank you J

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 5 years ago

This is great information - and we will remember this on our next inspection.

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) over 5 years ago

I took some buyers in to a home last week that did not have any disclosures about foundation issues but there were big red flags throughout the house. Needless to say we moved on.

Posted by Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert, Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com (Zion Realty) over 5 years ago

There are clues everywhere... it's fun to follow them till you get that "Ah Ha!" moment!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago

Thanks Gloria.  At this point it is not alarming!

And thank you Amber.  We try to give some information.

Fortunately this part of the wall was exposed Richie.

Baddaboom!

Glad you can use it Sharon.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Sometimes it's easy Nicole!

Like following bread to the witch's house, Fred?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Thank you for the helpful information. Have a great day!

Posted by Chandler Real Estate Liz Harris, MBA, #ChandlerRealEstateAgent (Liz Harris Realty) over 5 years ago

That's why we're here Liz.  I love learning on AR.  That's why I come here.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

If its "front to back", you never look back. If its side to side, epoxy you can provide. Not sure thats a great quote, but its kind of true. 

I was talking to a local agent on a foreclosure property, and when they were taking pics, they found a crack that had pushed the insulation off the wall. $200K later and the bank wishes that they hadn't foreclosed. Someday, they might sell that property.

 

Posted by Ian Bush, Ian Bush, Loudoun County's Favorite Realtor (Ian Bush Homes) over 5 years ago

Something like that Ian!  And I thought the banks were insured against catastrophic loss?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Inspectors often point out cracks and comment on whether they are "common cracks" or if they are something more.  In a few cases inspectors have recommended the epoxy injection.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 5 years ago

Jay Markanich - yes, a crack had to be fixed as soon as one can! Not a good idea to wait for it to show the 'results'!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 5 years ago

Jay - We see a lot of cracking and settling around here.  Most are not a worry though we always feel better once the inspector has been through.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 5 years ago

Joan - a crack by itself is common!  The kind or size of crack is what's relevant!  And if it's leaking, well, even more so.

Praful - I think that as a poker player this crack has shown it's hand for some time.

Christine - the way things shake out there a crack or two might mean different things then they do here!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay,

I always have something to add to my "To Do" list after reading your posts.  I guess this weekend will find me re-inspecting the crawl space for leaks.

Thansk for the informative posts.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 5 years ago

Any time Stephen!  And that is a beautiful dog.  Cocker?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Good information here. I see a lot of cracks forming along the lines of concrete blocks.  After a while they seal with some sealant or whatever and paint over them. 

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 5 years ago

If they don't move again that might work Gary, but usually they open back up.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Water is a very destructive force.  I don't think many people imagine what water can do to small cracks over the years.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Once a crack, always a crack Gene.  They don't magically close up.  And this one leaks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

THanks for the info about epoxy...will remember this tip just in case!!

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty) over 5 years ago

Thanks for posting this clear description and the easy solution to "stop cracks in their tracks"!

Posted by Kathleen Luiten, Kauai Luxury Ocean Home Sales (Resort and Second-Home Specialist) over 5 years ago

Very informative post Jay... we buy a lot of house to rehab and I always get the structural engineers in when I see a crack in the foundation... makes Rich crazy but makes me feel better... Thanks Jay

Posted by Beth and Richard Witt, Long Island Cash Home Buyer 516-330-6940 (Long Island Cash Home Buyer) over 5 years ago

It's out there Rebecca, and a very good technique.  The repairs are permanent, from my experience.

That's the best way to do it Kathleen.

If you're going to go one way or the other, it's safest to be sure Beth!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay - This is great information. I think there would be lots of people who would just ignore that small crack. Better to do the epoxy injection and fix it so it doesn't evolve into a larger issue, like in this case.

Posted by Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807, Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor (Good Company Real Estate www.ChandlerRealEstate.weebly.com) over 5 years ago

Glad to know there is a good fix. And it does not sound too expensive.

Posted by Rose Mary Justice, Synergy Realty Pros (Synergy Realty Pros) over 5 years ago

There are just so many funny things that can be said about the word "crack"...we have plumber's crack...ok, ok...I will stop!  Just another day in the life of an inspector...very well writen, Jay Markanich!  I like it!

Posted by John Helmick, Realtor Personal Growth/Success Coach (John Helmick Success & Ohio Property Inspection Services) over 5 years ago

Dear Jay,

Yup! When you see evidence of fine mud inside, there is a migration point somewhere. Thank you for reminding us.

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) over 5 years ago

Troy - many foundation cracks cannot be investigated later because they are covered with wall or insulation.  But they should all be paid attention to.

Rose Mary - I think injecting this crack (8' high) would be $800-$1000.  Don't quote me though.

John - did you see the special cream that Wrench uses in the middle photo here?

The mud is a big key Dorte!  And the wet...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Except in very new homes we tell our clients that cracks are not to be obsessed over, not to be worried about, but definitely NOT to be forgotten!

Posted by Marshall Brown, BSEE, CHI (Mid America Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Marshalls (both of you) - like I say above, cracks are normal!  But leaking is not, and not to be left without repair.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Here in Idaho, the only guarantee I give on concrete is that it WILL crack, I just can't say when or where.  I will have to look into where to buy materials for the epoxy injection and maybe give away kits for closing gifts.

Posted by Jim Paulson, Owner,Broker (Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) www.Progressive-Realty.info) over 5 years ago

I have never seen a kit Jim.  When I've seen it done it is quite professional with a specialized equipment.  The epoxy is very hot when injected, and under pressure.  Probably not a do-it-yourself job.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

What a great read I came across today, keep them coming for the active Rainers.

Posted by Winston Heverly, GRI, ABR, SFR, CDPE, CIAS, PA (Winston Realty, Inc.) over 5 years ago

Thank you Winston.  I'll probably be around for a while.  Or a square...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

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