Diagnosing Diagonal Stair Step Cracks

Diagonal foundation cracks quite often indicate foundation settlement. Whether or not they actually indicate settlement and whether or not this is an immediate concern really depends on the type of foundation and the timing of the cracks appearance.

In poured concrete foundation walls, often one might see diagonal or even vertical foundation cracks that actually taper off toward both ends of the crack. Usually, these cracks are simple shrinkage cracks that appear within 30 days of construction. Assuming the cracks don’t keep growing, this is not something to be extremely concerned about. Keep an eye on the crack for any sort of growth. The only other concern with these types of cracks is water intrusion.

At other times in a poured wall, the crack might be wider at the top than at the bottom. This could actually be initial foundation settlement and is likely due to unevenly compacted soils underneath the foundation footer. Monitor these cracks closely. If it is new construction and the crack does not grow, the settlement may be over. However, if the crack does grow in width, especially near the top, then steps should be taken to stabilize the foundation immediately.

In a block foundation, concrete footer settlement is usually indicated by a diagonal stair step crack along the mortar joints. Severe pressures however can cause the crack to run right through a block or blocks. See a foundation repair specialist immediately and consider stabilization options. Once the foundation footer is broken, only the soils hold it up. And if those soils move, the foundation will move as well.

In both block and poured wall foundations, cracks may also occur around windows and headers. These usually indicate load distribution issues, but get an inspection to be sure. These inspections from professional foundation repair specialists are usually free and will give you either peace of mind or a plan of action.


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More Helpful Information

Foundation Crack Repair Methods

Diagnosing Causes of Foundation Cracks

Diagnosing Diagonal Stair Step Cracks

Inspecting Concrete Block Foundation Cracks

Diagnosing Causes of Horizontal Foundation Cracks

Diagnosing Bulging or Bowing Foundation Walls

Diagnosing Leaning Foundation Walls

Diagnosing Causes of Vertical Foundation Cracks

Inspecting Poured Wall Foundation Cracks