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Are Foundation Cracks Normal?: When to Worry & How to Repair

Large crack forming in a brick wall.

One of the questions we see homeowners ask all the time is “Are foundation cracks normal?”.

Well, the short answer is: sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they’re “safe”. On this page, we’ll clear up what foundation cracks are, when you should be worried, and the best ways to fix them.

Are All Foundation Cracks a Cause for Concern?

Foundation cracks are tricky—nearly all homes develop foundation cracks of some kind. This is because buildings go through a natural settlement period, where the structure moves slightly due to the soil beneath it.

So, while small foundation cracks are common, let’s make one thing clear: foundation cracks of any kind have the potential to cause serious damage. Let’s look at the two most common types of foundation cracks you might see and when you should worry.

Small cracks in a brick wall.

Hairline Cracks

Small foundation cracks (also called hairline cracks) are likely to arise as your house settles, and while they are a common occurrence, you should still keep an eye on them. They always have a chance of getting bigger, and if they do, you’re going to be dealing with foundation issues soon after.

Large, stair-step cracks in a brick wall.

Major Foundation Cracks

Large cracks (also called major foundation cracks) are wider than a quarter-inch. These cracks continue to expand and are clear signs of a serious foundation issue.

If a house’s foundation is severely cracking, the house won’t be able to stand straight, and you may see other foundation problem signs (like uneven floors or sticking windows and doors), call an expert to check it out.

What Causes Foundation Cracks?

Foundation cracks arise for a number of reasons. For most homes, the common cause is soil washout—when soil is washed away by water, such as heavy rain.

During a storm, water is absorbed by the soil in your yard. Too much water causes soil to erode and become too weak to effectively support your foundation. Eventually, after a few cycles of heavy rain, your foundation sinks into the weak soil and cracks as it moves.

While this is the main cause of foundation cracks, they can also appear due to the following reasons:

  • Tree roots growing too close to your foundation
  • Drought causing dry, brittle soil
  • Expansive soils that push against your foundation
  • Poorly compacted soil during the construction of your home
  • Flooding (especially in homes near the coast)

As you can see, there are many ways foundation cracks can appear. Taking the proper precautions with foundation repair tools is the best way to fix cracks and prevent more from appearing in the future.

How to Fix Foundation Cracks

Thanks to modern advancements, foundation repair is easier and more effective than ever. Various tools exist to repair and prevent foundation cracks from appearing. We’ll outline the repair methods used for the three of the most common foundation: concrete slabs, basements, and crawl spaces.

AFS installer placing a slab pier into a concrete slab floor.

1. Concrete Slab Foundation Repair

For homes with a concrete slab foundation, the best repair option is a foundation pier system. Professional repair companies, including AFS Foundation Repair & Waterproofing Specialists, usually offer three types of foundation piers—push piers, slab piers, and helical piers.

Each type of pier system helps to keep a building’s foundation strong and steady, but they are different in how they look and when they are used. Push piers can be used on many buildings, helical piers are better for smaller buildings, and slab piers are good for homes with not much yard space or where it’s hard to repair concrete slab damage from the outside.

With a free inspection from AFS, our team can show you which foundation pier system is best for your home.

2. Basement Foundation Repair

Basement walls can crack due to pressure from groundwater outside. Here are some ways to fix them:

  • Steel I-beams: These are big, strong beams placed against the wall to stop it from bending. They’re like a sturdy backbone for the wall.
  • Carbon Fiber Reinforcement: This method uses strong, light carbon fiber strips glued to the wall. They help stop cracks from growing and keep the wall from bending, without taking up much space.
  • Channel Anchors: These involve attaching metal channels to the wall and connecting them to anchors buried in the yard. They help pull the wall back into place and keep it straight.
  • Wall Anchors: Similar to channel anchors, these use plates and steel rods connected through the wall to outside anchors. By tightening these rods over time, the wall can be straightened and made stable again.

Each method helps fix or prevent foundation cracks, making sure the basement stays safe and sound.

Three crawl space support jacks attached to a wooden beam in a crawl space.

3. Crawl Space Foundation Repair

For homes with a crawl space foundation, the best repair option is a crawl space support jack system. These steel support beams attach to the floor joists in your crawl space, strengthening the entire structure.

Most crawl space jacks can be adjusted to match the size of your crawl space. Since they make your crawl space stronger, they also help prevent foundation cracks from forming later on.


The repair timeline can vary widely based on the severity of the damage, repair methods, and climatic conditions. In general, foundation repairs can be accomplished in a day or two, though extensive issues may require more time. Consult our experts for a tailored timeline. 

Usually, homeowner’s insurance does not cover issues arising from “settling, cracking, or shrinking” of the foundation. Exceptions may apply if the cracks were caused by a covered peril, such as a natural disaster. Always read your policy and consult your insurance agent for particulars. 

While the idea of fixing minor cracks yourself may be appealing, foundation repair is typically not an advisable DIY project. Mistakes can aggravate the issue further. Given the Southeast’s unique soil and climate, it’s highly recommended to engage professionals like AFS for a comprehensive evaluation and treatment. 

Schedule a Free Foundation Inspection With AFS

AFS installer holding a foundation pier over his shoulder and smiling.

If you have concerns about the cracks in your foundation, don’t hesitate to contact AFS. We’ve been helping homeowners across the Southeastern United States protect their foundations since 2000, and we’re ready to do the same for you.

With industry-leading solutions and an experienced team, we’re committed to taking care of your home. Don’t let foundation cracks ruin the safety and comfortability of your home—schedule a free inspection with AFS today!

Related Resources

Ted Dryce

Ted Dryce

Content Writer

Ted is an SEO Content Writer who has been with Groundworks since 2021. He’s covered home repair topics ranging from crawl space encapsulation to regional soil conditions. When he’s not working, Ted is performing improv comedy and working on his own creative projects.

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