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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. 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. Page top photo shows the author inspecting a foundation ca 1985.
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Examples of structural & other failures in Poured Concrete Foundations: Cracks, Cold Pour Joints, Leaks, Movement, & Other Defects
Reader Wade Mariage has pointed out that cold pour joints may also occur due to the accumulation of form-release oil on top of a pour into oiled aluminum concrete forms. As Mr. Wade noted and we agree, even when the concrete crew "chuck" the "mud" (concrete) between pours to improve bonding of the subsequent pour and to reduce pour marks, these marks still often appear in the cured concrete.
If the aluminum concrete forms are heavily oiled the cold pour mark may be still more visible.
Mariage asserts and we agree that normally a cold pour line is not a structural concern. Exceptions are wall leaks or failure of subsequent pours to bond well if the concrete actually sets between pours - unusual events in normal concrete construction.
These close-up photographs of cold pour joints in concrete foundation walls will help in identification of this phenomenon. Notice that there is an apparent boundary that is almost always sloped to some degree and that there are significant texture differences on either side of the diagonal or cold pour joint.
The two concrete cold pour joints shown at left and immediately above are not leaking significantly, though in the lower photo (at left) we see a bit of white stains that are probably mineral effloresence.
Visual clues of cold pour joints give a history of construction sequence and timing
In the photograph above one can just make out the lines of boards used to construct the forms used to pour this foundation wall. The visual clues combine to suggest how this foundation wall was constructed and what happened later.
The use of boards and somewhat rough workmanship suggest a "do it yourself" project, perhaps by a small builder or the homeowners themselves. Small contractors or homeowners might rent a cement mixer and mix small batches of concrete, perhaps not even a cubic yard at a time.
Because a fair amount of manual labor would be involved in mixing each small batch of concrete, it's possible that so much time elapsed between concrete pours that the lower pours had cured and hardened so much that subsequent concrete pours did not bond with their predecessors. This (speculative) history might explain why we see horizontal cracks in this concrete wall in a pattern which tracks, almost exactly, the cold pour joint lines in the wall. If the builder also skimped on reinforcing steel or wire in the wall that might be another factor in the development of these cracks in response to earth or frost pressure from outside after the wall was cured.
Multiple Diagonal Cold Pour Joints Close Together = many small pours
The following multiple diagonal "cracks" and stains in a poured concrete foundation wall look to us like cold pour joints but in an unusual pattern of closeness and opposing diagonals that might have indicated amateur workmanship or some odd site problem during construction. And nearly all of the diagonal cracks or joints are leaking along with leaks at some of the form ties and at the floor/wall juncture. These photos are discussed in detail in our Q&A section of DIAGONAL FOUNDATION CRACKS
Articles on Repair of Foundations
For detailed information about foundation repair methods, including repairs to various kinds of cracks in concrete, see:
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