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Help with the Foundation Crack Bible


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For a long time I've been collecting photos and text on how to evaluate foundation cracks and movement.

The current project is at http://www.inspect-ny.com/structure/foundation.htm

and it's rather extensive across most foundation types and types of damage.

I'd much welcome comments, critique, content suggestions, or questions about the content, and I'm hopeful that some of the material may assist readers in this forum with diagnosing foundation problems.

My summary opinion about attacking foundation questions is to ask a basic question or two:

What is the apparent (for non engineers) total extent of foundation damage, and is there evidence that the building is at risk (such as extreme movement threatening collapse or threatening to have pulled apart building connections).

The answer depends on not only the total movement but its type, cause, history, and on the building materials involved. Some problems move slowly, some risk sudden precipitous collapse (such as broken bond courses in brick). The size, shape, location, pattern of cracking, for example, are very diagnostic when combined with identification of the materials and an examination of the site.

What has been the impact so far on the building?

What is the apparent cause and what needs to be done to correct that?

What are the foundation materials and how resistant are they to serious or sudden damage (reinforced concrete vs. unreinforced masonry block)?

These (and more detail in my web article) help us decide what action is probably needed when.

For fellows who are not foundation engineers, you are entirely capable of making the same sorts of basic physical inspection that a mason or foundation repair contractor (also not a P.E.) would make. You are further obligated to be skilled enough to recognize when an engineer is needed (say to design a beam or a reinforcement plan), but be sure your engineer is one who is a specialist in foundations, not a generalist who may lack the needed experience.

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Yes, thanks for putting this up.

I'm not clear on how to answer. There's a mountain of information to consider, but your main questions in the post (impact?/cause?) don't delineate where to begin. I could comment on some of the material in your examples, but without seeing something in person, I don't think it would be of much value.

If this document is intended to inform & educate homeowners, I don't think it's on the mark. The information is presented in a manner that is mildly overwhelming; I couldn't pick up a linear path that walked me through the considerations. It was (sort of) all over the place.

My customers need a very direct straight line between observation, analysis, and recommendation. The document, or method of presentation, didn't provide that linear path.

If it's for HI education, I think it needs to be broken out in simpler manner. The information is correct (near as I can tell), but the presentation left me wondering how I could knit it all together.

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Here is a nice site that the Wisconsin Foundation Repair Professionals put together http://www.wafrp.com it has a contents page that is indexed into specific issues and the information easy easy to locate. Your main menu is getting quite long with all the links running together. I think having a contents page for just this subject with links and small descriptions on each indivual subject would help the presentation of this material. I do like Erby's idea of having the pages available as a PDF download.

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