Foundations; Which type of cracks are ok?

Foundation cracks are typically something that home inspectors look for around the perimeter inside and out. Foundations in Marion and Polk counties are usually a poured concrete or possibly concrete block type foundation.

Concrete does two things, it gets hard and it cracks. Small, less than an eighth inch, vertical cracks are typically indicators of shrinkage and are a normal part of the concrete curing process. The cracks that are potentially structural in nature falling in a few categories.
1. Diagonal cracks: these cracks typically occur near corners and indicate that the corner has settled. This happens either with moving down, or uplifting moving up. Diagonal cracks typically occur in pairs. One on either side of the corner.Cracks in a foundation in a old home in Salem Oregon.



2. Horizontal cracks: these cracks typically indicate pressures against the foundation wall from soils. Either in properly backfilled soils or soils that have unusual amounts of moisture creating excessive pressures.



3. Cracks with displacement: displacement indicates movement on either side of the crack. One side of the foundation has moved forward or back more than the other side. Displacement can occur with any of these types of cracks and is always an indicator of structural movement.



4. Cracks that are wider than one quarter inch: this indication can also occur with any of the previous mentioned cracks. Cracks that are larger than one quarter inch may indicate a significant amount of structural movement and repairs may be needed. When cracks of this size are noted standard operating procedure for most good home inspectors is to recommend a structural engineer further evaluate.Large foundation crack noted during a home inspection on a concrete foundation in a North East Salem, Oregon home.



Those are the styles of foundation cracks to look for. If any of the above four are noted it may be time for further evaluation. Home inspectors are always a good non biased source for structural evaluations.

How NOT to build a Deck, Adventures of this Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

There can be many different ways to come to a good looking finished product.  Skimping here or there can be ok depending on what you are dealing with.  From what I look at day in and day out, if you are installing anything outside it should be the best you can afford and maybe a little better.
I am not talking about the finishes.  People tend to get caught up on what they can see and understand, which makes sense.  But the parts that hold up those wonderful jungle hardwoods or space age composites are the things that are really important.
Take decks for instance:  A deck that was on a home that I inspected in Salem, Oregon recently appeared to be beautiful.  Composite decking boards (low to no maintenance), and aluminum railings (again low to no maintenance) all appeared to be installed properly and should last a long time.  The real issues didn’t make themselves visible until we got a look at the structure……
The first thing that jumped out was the outside structural beams, or lack there of.

I can’t tell if, to save money they didn’t think they needed to extend the
support all the way to the edge or if they got the wrong beam in the first place and again decided to ‘make it work’ instead of getting the proper sized beams.
Either way this set up is really a classic example of how not to build a deck.

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector 503.508.4321

“Always on the cutting edge”

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My solute to Lazy Workmen

This is my tribute to all of those hard working plumbers, heating and air contractors, electricians and less than knowledgeable homeowners who just don’t care about their job and how it affects the structure of the building they are working on. Without you guys, us home inspectors would have a lot less to report on.

The pictures to the left show industrious contractors that although they understood the requirements of the systems they were installing they didn’t care how it effected the rest of the home’s structure.


Here are a few guidelines on how and when floor joists should be cut

According to the 2003 IRC:

R802.7.1 Sawn lumber. Notches in solid lumber joists, rafters and beams shall not exceed one-sixth of the depth of the member, shall not be longer than one-third of the depth of the member and shall not be located in the middle one-third of the span. Notches at the ends of the member shall not exceed one-fourth the depth of the member. The tension side of members 4 inches (102 mm) or greater in nominal thickness shall not be notched except at the ends of the members. The diameter of the holes bored or cut into members shall not exceed one-third the depth of the member. Holes shall not be closer than 2 inches (51mm)to the top or bottom of the member, or to any other hole located in the member. Where the member is also notched, the hole shall not be closer than 2 inches (51 mm) to the notch.

And when the roof truss gets in the way of the satelite dish installation……. R802.10.4 Alterations to trusses. Truss members shall not be cut, notched, drilled, spliced or otherwise altered in any
way without the approval of a registered design professional. Alterations resulting in the addition of load (e.g., HVAC
equipment, water heater) that exceeds the design load for the truss shall not be permitted without verification that the truss
is capable of supporting such additional loading.