Cracks in a foundation can be very serious.  How serious the cracks are depends on their location and the condition they are in.  When I find a crack in a basement the first thing I look for is if there is any history of water penetration.  The next concern is if there is displacement or shifting of the foundation walls.  This is exactly how I what I did while performing the home inspection in Chicago for my clients.

There are two types of cracks.  There are structural and non stuctural.  I talk about the non structural first.  Non stuctural cracks are cracks that can develop from settling of the foundation, settling of a homes structure and expansion and contraction of the concrete that the foundation is made of.  Most of the  cracks that I see in a basement foundation are non stuctural but may still need attention.  These cracks can develop from poor grading along the foundation of the home, window frames in the foundation walls, loading from beams and poor compaction of the material under the foundation footing walls.  The foundation walls of the Chicago home inspection had cracks in the foundation that derived from poor grading and concrete expansion.  These cracks did not have past or present water penetration.

If you do find a crack that does or does not have water issues I still advise to repair it.  These cracks can become active and repairs are minimal most of the time.  Depending on the size and water penetration of the crack will determine what type of repair the contractor will do.  Foundation repairs generally cost $200.00 a crack.  You can see other repair prices at ~  Repairs can be done quickly but the cause of the crack will still need to be corrected.  This is the same advice I gave to my clients from the Chicago home inspection.

Structural cracks are the more serious type and if found should be evaluated by an structural engineer.  Structural cracks could have been non structural cracks that were left not repaired and developed into structural cracks.  If you see horizontal cracks or bulging of the foundation that is the first sign of structural issues.

These type of issues will require more investigation and probably more costs to repair.  My Chicago home inspection did not have any structural type cracks.  If you see these type of issues and need immediate help contact me ~  Letting these issues go without repair can possibly cause damage to the structural of the home that you own.

As you can see cracks in a foundation should not be left active.  Repairs to the issues that helped create these cracks also will require repairs as soon as possible because they still may allow they cracks to continue developing.  If you still need more help contact me at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

While performing a home inspection in Waukegan, Illinois my clients asked me if their new homes basement got water before.  This a very hard question even to the most seasoned home inspectors in the industry.  It is easy to throw a blanket statement out to your clients to appease them.  I want to give them the most honest answer I could come up with.  To do this I must inspect the exterior of the home and the interior of the basement walls withe moisture meters, thermal imagers and with my prior experience to possible inform me of past water inclusions.

When you look at the exterior of a home you want to look at the soil or grass that is touching your foundation.  The dirt or grade should be pitched away from the home.  One of the first reasons you might get water in your basement is from the lack of leaders on your downspouts.  Leaders should be 4′ – 6′ long and pouring on a splash block to allow the earth around the home to absorb the rain water.  If you don’t have these installed and want to know pricing for these issues you can see them at ~

The leaders, gutters and grading are some of the main reasons for water issues in basements.  If these items are in the proper order then the chance of these items being the culprits are very limited.  The next reason for water issues in a basement are due to sewer back up.  Sewer back up is when your sewer literally backs up into your home through a floor drain, toilet or shower drain.  The only way this can be stopped is by having a back flow prevention device built into your sewer system.  These systems can cost any where from $7000.00 -  $15000.00 depending on how elaborate the system needs to be.

The next issues would be cracks or penetrations in the foundation.  Depending on where you are at in the country this could be a big issue. If the basement walls are all drywalled over then the use of a thermal imager with moisture meters is the only way to inspect for possible issues.  If you bought a home recently and the basement was recently painted you could still see past evidence of water issues on base boards, door frames, doors, mechanical systems, piping and more.  You just have to be patient and the answers will come to you.

Hopefully this will help you stop water issues in your basments but if you have more questions you can contact me at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

If you are buying a condo and the unit has a balcony make sure that the proper flashings were installed to prevent water from entering under your hardwood flooring.  How do you know if you have water under your hardwood flooring?  The hardwood flooring seams will start to raise and crown.  This is generally a “tell tale” sign that there will be issues.  That was definitely the case at the condo home inspection in Chicago, Illinois’s Irving Park neighborhood.

Hardwood floors are installed on creepers (4″ strips of plywood that is nailed to the concrete base) in multi-unit condo buildings.  The concrete needs room to “breath” otherwise their will be issues with the flooring.  Also, it is impossible to assemble tongue and grove material on concrete and still nail it to the surface.  This process of installing the hardwood flooring properly was used at the home inspection in Chicago.

When I started to walk on the floor in the condo I didn’t notice an issue with the flooring until I walked closer to the balcony door.  There was a concrete balcony with a drain in the center.  The issue was the flashing.  I took out my Fluke thermal imager and started to scan the flooring.  The damage was larger than I thought.  The water was definitely entering from the balcony of the home inspection in Chicago.  The water pattern seen with the Fluke thermal imager was traveling under the flooring into the bedroom and to the living room of the condo inspection in Irving Park.  The only way we can be definite that this is water damage is to test the areas with a Tramex floor moisture meter.  The moisture meter’s alarm went off ,meaning that the water that was found was at above 30%.  This amount of moisture is a perfect breeding ground for mold.

On further review with other tenants of the building, I found that this was not an isolated incident.  Every tenant had the same issue!  In fact a contractor that uses thermal imagers was hired to scan the whole building to see if there were other areas water was entering.  It seems that the home inspection for the condo in Chicago had explained why thermal imagers are a must in ALL home inspections.

If you own a condo/home or you are getting ready to purchase a home or condo and have questions of how thermal imagers work please contact us at~

If this blog was helpful please leave a comment or question if  you have a question about your home or condo.  Thanks~ Jim Kolke

At a recent home inspection in Park Ridge Illinois, we were asked the question of  “how to detect water penetration”. I responded  with the use of a Fluke thermal imager.  We received a call from home builder who focuses on Park Ridge.  The builder was at his “wits end” with the situation.

The problem we discovered during our home inspection in Park Ridge, was water coming down the front foundation walls.  There is a garage above the foundation wall that had water penetrations. The grading is in good shape (pitched away from the home)  and there doesn’t seem to be any issues with the brick work.

There is a flat roof above the garage.  It has a bimitius covering and the roof flashing is intact. I started to scan the roof with the thermal imager and found no positives from water penetration during the home inspection in Park Ridge.

The portion of the home above the garage is made of eiffs or dryvit that I scanned with the thermal imager with no positives for water intrusion.  I was starting to get frustrated by this issue myself.  I decided to go into the garage.

Before entering the garage, I start to scan the exterior of the limestone coping.  Bingo, POSITIVE for water!!!   The contractor added a beautiful precast railing system above the garage so that the garage roof could be used as a balcony.  The railing system is hollow and interlocks to the limestone coping. These connections were not sealed properly and were letting water penetrate the building envelope. 

The contractor hired us to scan another property similar to this that evening with the same results.  He was scheduling the demolition of the railings and addition of copper coping and reinstalling of the railing system.  The cost for the demo and modifications was $17,000.00   Our service charge was $400.00 plus $365.00 in repairs.  You figure it out, would you rather pay $765.00 OR $17,000.00?

The choice is yours.

If you have issues similar to these and you want to save your money contact us at-