Cracks are an inescapable, undesirable feature of many buildings. Some cracks are the result of wear and tear, while others are related to construction or design defects. Expansion and contraction of soils, consolidation of soils, vibration, wind, snow loading, overloading, and impacts all may cause cracks. Insurance coverage for repair of cracks may be extended or denied depending on determination of the cause of the crack.

Frequently, cracks form between building sections, such as when new additions settle as a result of soil consolidation at the new foundation. This tends to stress the interface between the two buildings, causing cracking at the interface. Because of the discontinuity between the old and new additions, soil movement from expansion and contraction also can generate cracks.

Other soil-related influences may lead to the formation of cracks. Ground water can cause soil erosion and reduction of soil compressive strength, reducing load-bearing capacity of the foundation, stressing and cracking building materials. Soil voids from improper or insufficient compaction of the subsoil have similar effects. Different soil types have characteristically different bearing strengths and can cause foundation movement-related cracks.

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