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Dallas Fort Worth area homeowners, realtors, and the people tasked to maintain commercial buildings have varying reactions when they see a crack on one of their foundation walls for the first time.

DIY versus Professional Service

One imperative things to keep in mind is that foundation cracks or any sign of foundation failure is not something that can be suitably addressed by cosmetic repairs. Nor will the problem go away by getting ignored. In fact, the longer you deny the severity of the situation, the more it will cost you in eventual professional repairs.

This is why at the first signs of foundation problems, it’s better to be on the safe side and have it assessed professionally, much like how you would inspect your windows, exterior sidings, or plumbing connections.

The question is, how can you figure out whether the crack is just a simple shallow concrete fissure, or crazing,  that DIY can actually remedy, or something more serious that would require assistance from a professional?

When do you need to call for expert foundation inspection? Here are some tips to help you get a better grasp on what you are dealing with:

1. Horizontal cracks – these are a big no-no.

Horizontal cracks are more serious than vertical ones. Take note of the direction of the crack. A horizontal crack in a concrete wall or stair-step shaped cracks should have your immediate attention. These cracks often indicate extreme pressure from walls exerted from surrounding soil, or which have just been oversaturated with water. Should this issue not be addressed immediately, prepare yourself for bowing or leaning down basement walls, much like those found in old convents. If you detect this horizontal crack, it’s time to call a foundation specialist. As for vertical cracks, it would mostly depend on the size of the crack.

2. Size does matter. Does it ever!

Large or  “V” shaped cracks should be a big concern, especially if you notice it getting bigger. Use a ruler and see if the crack is wider than 3/16 inch. If so, call a foundation inspector since this is a sign of a major problem emerging.

At the first sign of a crack, a good house owner should begin a regular monitoring. Record when the crack/s appeared on your wall, as well as the rate of changes.

3. Cracks and more, creeping beyond the first floor.

If your foundation is settling, more cracks and other signs appear. Start checking your upper floors for cracks on the wallboard, especially on top corners of doors and windows. Check also for windows and doors that skew or rack causing them to bind. These should be considered red flags.

Expert Inspectors have all the necessary knowledge, resources and tools needed to address foundation issues.  Never forget that foundation problems get worse over time. The longer you wait to fix them, the more expensive and difficult it is to repair, so act decisively.

When foundation cracks appear, call for an expert inspection right away. Thomas Engineering Consultants has over twenty years of experience with Dallas Fort Worth clay soils. If you suspect that you have foundation problems or see cracks in interior or exterior walls, give us a call at 817-576-1973.