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STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
BRICK FOUNDATIONS & WALLS
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
COLD POUR JOINTS, CONCRETE
COLUMNS & POSTS, DEFECTS
DISASTER BUILDING INSPECTION & REPAIR
EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED FOUNDATIONS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOD DAMAGE TO FOUNDATIONS
FOOTING & FOUNDATION DRAINS
FOOTINGS EXPOSED, Repair Methods
FOUNDATION BULGE or LEAN MEASUREMENTS
FOUNDATION CONSTRUCTION TYPES
FOUNDATION CONTRACTORS, ENGINEERS
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
GRADING, DRAINAGE & SITE WORK
GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS
INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE
MOBILE HOMES, DOUBLEWIDES, TRAILERS
MODULAR HOME CONSTRUCTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
RETAINING WALL GUARD RAILINGS
STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION
STRUCTURAL DAMAGE PROBING
STRUCTURAL WOOD ASSESSMENT
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
TIMBER FRAMING, ROT
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Concrete foundation crack types: cold pour joints, shrinkage cracks, holes, structural cracks: detection, diagnosis, repairs. This article explains how to identify and diagnose poured concrete foundation walls, movement, settlement, leaks, & other defects involving reinforced or un-reinforced concrete foundations and concrete walls, such as damage due to shrinkage, impact, settlement, frost or water damage, and other causes. Page top photo shows the author inspecting a foundation ca 1985.
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Examples of structural & other failures in Poured Concrete Foundations: Cold Pour Joints, Cracks, Leaks, Movement, & Other DefectsCold Pour Joints in concrete foundations which leave visible lines in the concrete foundation wall are not usually a structural problem but may in some cases form a dry joint which permits water leakage through the foundation wall.
Cold pour joints occur because of the time delay between subsequent "pours" into the foundation forms.
An astute inspector, by noting the position, pattern, and slope of the cold pour joint, can probably determine the position from which the concrete was poured into the forms (the high end of the sloping lines) and the extent of delay between pours (evidence of water leaks through the joints indicates that enough time passed for the lower pour to solidify).
Water leaks into buildings at cold pour foundation joints are discussed at Basement Foundation Leak Points - Leaks at Cold Pour Joints.
And nearly all cold pour joints will appear as diagonals such as those shown in three of the four photos below.
Details about cold pour joints in concrete are found at CONCRETE COLD POUR JOINTS.
Concrete shrinkage cracks are not usually a structural problem but may permit water leaks through the foundation wall.
Shrinkage cracks are often mistaken by owners and inspectors who, failing to observe the characteristic discontinuous path of the crack and its meandering path, mistake shrinkage cracks for structural damage.
We discuss shrinkage cracks in great detail and provide diagnostic photographs of shrinkage and other types of concrete cracking in poured concrete floors and slabs at How to Identify and Evaluate Shrinkage Cracks in Poured Concrete and we provide further diagnostic guidance for concrete cracking at SHRINKAGE vs EXPANSION vs SETTLEMENT.
The repair of shrinkage cracks (if repair is even needed) is discussed at Shrinkage Crack Repairs.
Holes and penetrations in concrete foundations such as poorly-sealed openings left for piping for water or electrical lines or where form ties were broken off may form points of water entry into the structure but are not normally a structural concern.
The "patched" holes shown in this photograph had been a source of chronic leakage and basement water entry since this home had been constructed about two years before this photograph was taken.
While several unsuccessful attempts had been made to seal and patch this leak point in the concrete foundation wall, none of the repairs had tried using a suitable product sold for that purpose and the wall was still leaking.
Of course the root problem was that surface water was not being directed away from the building outside.
These holes were high enough on the foundation wall that it would be reasonable (and perhaps preferable) to seal the wall from outside before also re-grading to drain surface water away from the building.
Concrete foundation settlement cracking such as from footing settlement, absence of or poorly prepared footings, water leading to settlement or actual loss of soils, thus undermining the footings (this can occur and can damage most foundation types), or movement of the foundation due to nearby blasting or excavation work.
Shrinkage cracks in concrete occur only during curing and will appear mostly in the first 28 days after a wall or floor is poured. If cracks noted and documented after this time continue to increase in length or width, some other cause is at work and further investigation is needed.
The concrete settlement crack shown here appeared initially in this wall as a hairline fracture of less than 1/16" in width. The homeowner monitored the crack and watched it increase in width to nearly 1/2" over the following 12 months, leading to the correct inference that there was structural movement going on.
In this case we traced the movement to uneven footing settlement which was aggravated by the combination of having placed the footing partly on bedrock, water from roof and surface spillage and runoff causing soil settlement (the contractor had not compacted the backfill under the footings), and by ongoing foundation blasting at a neighboring lot.
Concrete Foundation Form Tie leaks: Leaks at the location of concrete form ties used during construction of a poured concrete foundation are not normally a structural problem but they can be blamed for basement water entry.
Form tie leaks occur in a poured concrete foundation wall where the form ties used to construct the foundation have left penetrations in the concrete walls.
Form ties are wire or steel connections between the two vertical sides of the wood or steel concrete form.
Concrete form ties are needed to prevent the forms from separating and bulging from the weight of the concrete poured into the form.
The best solution to concrete wall form tie leaks is to keep water away from the foundation from outside.
Also see FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE and this close companion article: SLAB CRACK EVALUATION which discusses in detail the process of evaluating cracks, settlement, leaks, shrinkage, or other damage
in poured concrete slabs, monolithic slab foundations, and concrete floors. FOUNDATION CRACK EVALUATION discusses evaluating foundation damage by examining concrete crack size, shape, pattern, and location.
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