A homeowner should be inspecting their foundations at least twice a year. In areas that are prone to natural forces like earthquakes, heavy rains, or flood zones, home owners should close attention to any changes they see when making a visual inspection and refer to a professional inspector if any changes are noticed.
A home's foundation walls are connected to the top of the footings. The purpose of a foundation is the carry the weight of the house structure down through the foundation and to the footings. Whether the foundation is made of concrete, brick, or concrete blocks, foundation walls can crack because of settling. This is caused be lateral force, uneven loads, and heaving of the foundation walls.
Grab a pencil and a pad or take photos when you do your inspections so you can document your observations. Make notes of crack and their specific locations because once you inspect the exterior of your foundation, you’ll want to try to locate these cracks on the inside.
If the crack goes entirely through the foundation, it may be a red flag. Small hairline cracks that do not go through the foundation wall are common and should not be cause for alarm. They are often caused by shrinkage of the mortar joints or the concrete. A geotechnical engineer may be required to determine the severity of a crack and its cause.
By inspecting your foundation twice a year and staying on top of needed repairs, you can ensure that your house has legs to stand on.