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House cracks require detective work

Is drainage or foundation problem to blame?
Published on Dec 30, 2009

Q: We have a small 1924 cottage that continues to shift and settle, resulting in cracks in the walls. There is a minor slope of no more than 5 percent, and probably less. There is a high water table where we live. We have talked to both foundation and drainage contractors. The foundation guy says drainage won't help but foundation work will solve all our problems. The drainage guy says a French drain and other work will solve all and no foundation work is needed. We only have so much money. Which option will provide us the most benefit for the cost? A: A new foundation or a French drain system are big-ticket items. You definitely don't want to make a mistake and choose one, only to find it was the wrong choice. In our view, you should do a little more investigation. Objectively speaking, the house should have settled in the almost 90 years since it was built. The fact that it hasn't stopped moving leads us to believe it's shifting with the expansion and contraction of the...

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