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The main carrying beam of our recently purchased 105 year old house is slightly rotated and seems to be putting more pressure on one side of the house. There is a vertical crack on both sides of the foundation (front and back of the house) stemming from the corner of the beam pocket on the side the beam is rotated towards. The cracks are not wide, but it's still concerning to me. Anyone else have similar experience or advice on how to proceed? Pictures of the back wall of the foundation(inside and outside)

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Struc Engineer here and I have done a lot of foundation and as-built framing inspections.

Beam

The twisting of the beam is not an issue (based on the pictures and your comments).

Crack

The crack in the concrete of the foundation, which is wider at the top than the bottom, is caused by settling of the foundation in the one of the two adjoining corners. If you are on a hill or slope, then it is most likely on the downhill/downslope side. I expect the settlement is occurring to the left in the picture due to the crack being located on the left side of the beam pocket

Foundation settlement can also be caused by downspouts draining at the foundation or a lack of a curtain drain as well as other reason

Unless very recent, it can be very difficult to determine the age of a crack, especially via pictures. I can sometimes get a good feel about it onsite by close visual inspection of the interior of the crack as well from information that I would determine from the site and the history of the structure from the owner if possible

Is it a problem?

Yes, if it continues

Is it continuing?

That requires a site visit by a local structural engineer to determine

How fast is it occurring / how soon do I need to address it?

This is usually a relatively slow process and having an it inspected immediately is not necessary. However, as it continues to settle it will cause more issues in your house

How to mitigate it?

There are various methods, including 'pin piles' which is basically pipes driven into the ground with a bracket attached to the foundation, the load is carried by the pile rather than be the earth immediately under the footing

What do I recommend that you do?

Hire a local structural engineer to do a site visit by the end of the summer

Any tips?

Hire a smaller firm for better rates. They are also likely to have more experience in this area as the larger firms tend to deal with multifamily, commercial, etc

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  • You say “Struc Engineer here...”. Does Struc Engineer mean structural engineer? – Lee Sam Apr 23 at 15:49
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That crack looks like it's been there for 50 years. I don't think this is something that is of great concern. First of all, there is no way that beam is able to apply enough pressure to the concrete wall to crack it. The crack is likely due to settling over time and as long as it is not leaking water into your basement, doesn't really present a problem.

The twisting of the beam may have been there from day #1 but even if it happened over time, I don't think it's going to be bringing the house down in another 100 years.

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  • Thanks! Yeah new house to me so getting myself concerned - gotta remember the house has stood strong for 100+ years. No water since it's protected by the grade and a back porch. Should probably just monitor it for any growth I guess. – toddtheredhead Apr 22 at 23:52

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