Crack in foundation block

I found this crack in the foundation block of a home and was looking for further insight on its severity. The crack started halfway up the wall and got wide as it went up about .25in. Any input it appreciated.

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It is severe enough to elevate to a qualified contractor. Smaller at the bottom and widening at the top is an indicator of some settlement. But, we do not have much to go on here.

Note: If those are 8" block, that crack is at least 50" plus.


Yeah, definitely agree with Brian - HIs don’t make enough to take on the liability. There is a ton of documentation that any crack you can fit a screwdriver in is outside of “normal” and we are there to determine if things are “performing as intended”. If it’s not normal it’s not performing as intended. Get it off your plate.

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Outer or stem foundation wall?

need some exterior photos to see the grading at this corner

Could be one or more of a handful of issues. I’ve seen this in cut fill lots, rocky terrain lots, at footings too close to grade, at soil margins, at areas of scour, in the city where a foundation got undermined, and with bad foundation underpinning jobs. I also kind of cringe when contractors get recommended for this, because they’ll typically try to sell the owner the solution that they know how to do, and not necessarily the solution that’s most appropriate for the conditions. I went through that mess last year with a foundation contractor that sweet talked the owner into replacing 60 feet of foundation when only 4 helical piers would have addressed the issue. I finally had to tell the owner to stop calling me if he wasn’t going to listen to me. I learned this year that it turned into a lawsuit between the owner, the neighbor, and the contractor. Not me, though. They didn’t listen.


That crack certainly justifies for you to recommend a professional to evaluate the cause and recommendation for a repair.


If they are smart, they will wade through the BS artist by obtaining more than one opinion. I give my clients a little credit, at least they hired me. :grinning:


Definitely recommend further evaluation. I normally explain the pros and cons of using an engineer or contractor. An engineer gives you an unbiased opinion but will charge $400 to $500 while a contractor will be free but will try to sell you on something.
My reports say have evaluated by a licensed structural professional after this conversation.


This is such a great point… both have their purpose. My problem with engineers (at least in my area) is they love to give percentages. The spiel I’ve heard dozens of times goes something like this - “The most likely scenario is the crack is the result of soil compaction and settlement. There’s probably an 80-90% chance it’s not an ongoing problem.” Yeah, that’s great but that also means there’s a 10-20% chance it is an active problem. I wish I could charge $900 for an hour of my time to spew a wishy washy opinion. Homebuyers are nervous and want absolutes. The foundation contractors are the only ones that offer that. Granted, it usually costs 25K but they will give a guarantee… something an engineer will NEVER do.

Why would that mattter?

Most foundation cracks are associated with external drainage issues or poor soil compaction.


That is an interesting crack, indicating that the mortar was mixed too strong which make to break through the blocks. No water coming through it indicates that grading may not be the cause or concern. I always recommend a real structural engineer familiar with home construction evaluate. I do not recommend “experienced contractors.”
As a side note, like everything, different experts will see the same thing differently. One P.E. may shrug his/her shoulders and another say “OMG!” I recently saw a fireplace that had settled an inch and the P.E. they brought in said it was only cosmetic. Maybe… but I would not have used the adjective “only.”
Some years ago, I had a P.E. for a client. We were in the crawlspace looking at some bad cracking. I tried to defer to him and he told me that he works on highway bridges and is deferring to my experience. I said, “In that case, I think we need a structural engineer to look at this and I know people.”

Right, or the crack is above grade. The OP left us hanging.

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Matt, unfortunately when dealing with most structural issues the ability of anyone to predict the root cause gets better with experience and the number of puzzle pieces you can find during the inspection. Predicting the future is never certain, but the more facts I have about a structure, including the soil type the closer I can get to that elusive 100% your clients want. For example you can’t predict with 100% accuracy how long you will live. If I know your 30 years old, run 5 miles every day, never smoke or drink, and eat well balanced meals every day I would say there is a high probability you would live a long life. If your 50 years old, smoke 5 packs a day, drink a 6 pack on the way home every night and fool around with the neighbors wife, then I would be willing to predict your not going to live much longer. It’s what you know about a structure, if your client wants to pay for floor level surveying, concrete testing, a rebar scan and soil borings then the more accurate my prediction.

So Jordan, the OP, ask a serious question for help and then disappears. Go figure.

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Hello everyone! I’m not a Home Inspector yet however, I am pursuing InterNACHI certification. From what I’ve learned, the crack being narrow at the bottom and wider at the top would be more of a upheaval issue than a settlement issue. I do agree with Randy that gathering more facts is necessary.

I didn’t mean to imply that engineers should give a guarantee or speak in absolutes. I was more pointing out that buyers are crazy and expect the unrealistic and unattainable. Of course, any sane person knows everything in life comes with risk… except homebuyers that think that risk is totally averted forever by giving me $500 :slight_smile:

What makes you say that?

InterNACHI’s course of instruction on Structural Issues for Home Inspectors. The section on V’s Heave and Pyraminds Fall. “A crack that forms a V-shape may indicate heaving.” “An open crack that forms an upside-down V or pyramid shape indicates settlement or drooping in the middle.”