Have you just returned from a lengthy overseas trip to find a couple of cracks in and around your home that were not evident before? You may wonder what has caused them and, more importantly, what you should do, as this type of discovery can be most alarming. Cracks like these can certainly be a result of foundation settling, which is a natural occurrence almost everywhere, but you don't need to worry too much at the moment and should keep a watchful eye instead.
Sometimes It's Just Natural
If you were to call in an expert whenever you spotted a small crack somewhere, you would be constantly on the phone. Remember, the soil underneath your property is not a solid structure and can be affected by weather conditions and seismic shifts. If you've just been through a protracted period of drought followed by heavy rain, then some kind of settling is to be expected; when this happens, the foundation can move slightly and cause a crack or two to appear.
Monitoring the Cracks
It's a good idea to get some chalk and to carefully outline the crack as it is. In the days and weeks ahead, you can then monitor it and see whether it grows or widens at all. If there is some significant movement then you should probably call in an expert to have a look at it, while also keeping an eye elsewhere.
What about the Doors?
Your doors will also be an early warning system for any significant problems beneath. Ordinarily, each door should swing smoothly by itself and close with no drama. However, if you notice that a door becomes more difficult to open or close and may seem to touch its frame where it didn't before, this is another sign of a significant shift.
If action is needed, you may well have to get your foundation re-stumped, re-blocked or underpinned. These sound like very technical terms but refer to the different approaches used by professionals in foundation repair.
When your home is underpinned, the technicians will get rid of air pockets found below the concrete slab by injecting concrete. This will help to seal them and bolster the soil to create a stronger foundation beneath. If your home needs to be re-stumped or re-blocked, however, the timber stumps that were initially placed below need to be removed and replaced with concrete alternatives. These stumps can naturally deteriorate with time and may move out of place when the soil shifts.
Picking up the Phone
If you're worried about growing cracks or sticking doors, by all means, speak with an expert about what to do next.