Foundation Crack...

So, I've had the mifortune of discovering a crack in my foundation wall. I called in a foundation company and the guy explained that what's likely happened is that the front of my garage settled and as it did it pulled the precast stairs in the front of the house along with it, and caused them to press into the foundation wall, causing a pressure-crack... It's kinda a two U shaped crack; where the crack starts at the top of the wall, dips down to the pressure point, and then goes back up. Cracks go down from the pressure point in a U shape in a similar way. The wall bulges there EVER so slighty (almost unnoticeable)...
Of course, the foundation guy recommends excavating all along the foundation along the crack to water proof. He recommends to excavate under the precast stairs, and then around and under the garage floor slab as illustrated in this picture:
http://www.egunn.com/foundation_woes.jpg
Finally, he's recommended putting a steel reinforcement beam inside the house to help brace up the crack and prevent the inward pressure from continuing.
I haven't got the estimate just yet, but I have a bad feeling it's gonna be a doozie..
My question is, since no water leaks in this crack yet, is it reasonable to take a more limite approach such as installing the reinforcement bar, and then simply monitoring the crack to see if it's getting worse? I figure i could epoxy some overlapping plexiglass plates to either side of the crack with a gridwork on one and reference cross-hairs on the other; then just basically monitor the two to see if there is movement.
I know that excavating, water proofing from the outside, and then backfilling with well drained pea-gravel is the "right thing to do", but this is my first home and I'm not exactly in a position to shell out for a major repair such as this.
Any opinions are welcome...
Thanks, snipped-for-privacy@egunn.com
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
4 words: Call a professional engineer.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Agree with this advice. This will be big money. Asking a foundation repair outfit if you want unbiased advice, could be like asking car dealer if and when you need a new car. Try and find a structural or foundation consulting engr who is not allied with a fdn repair co. Usually in yellow pages. Get him to commit to an hourly consulting price. You will pay on a consulting basis, but advice could be valuable and you could have him comment on the damage analysis, and on the other guy's proposed solution.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I originally tried to get a foundation consulting engineer to come down. I had a hard time finding one that does residential foundation inspection in my city. I explained my situation to the one guy I did find that said he'd do it. He said that given what I explained to him, that it would be a waste of my money to have him come down and look at the crack. He recommended me to the foundation company I called to have a look at the crack.
I am going to get the other company I was recommended to to come down and have a look at it to see if the recommendations match or not. I think I'll try some more structural engineering firms in the city to see if I can find a residential foundation specialist too..
He wasn't worried about the crack structurally, but he was more concerned about it leaking water. It wasn't a "Oh my god, the house is gonna collapse", but a "you should consider getting this repaired and stabilized; it may get worse".
My thing is, the garage could have settled and basically STOPPED settling; thus this may not get worse.
I'm going to build some little plexiglass guages that I can glue on to the wall so I can have a measure of whether the crack is moving or not. I think I may just observe it for a while too and see if it does move.
Thanks, Tyler
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Agree with this advice. This will be big money. Asking a foundation repair

Shoot, google pooched out on me there; not sure if this'll end up being a double post.
Anyways, I originally tried to get a consulting foundation structural engineer to come down and look at the crack. All the firms I tried didn't go residential inspections. I found one company that would and explained the problem to the engineer himeself. He told me that given what I told him it was a waste of my money to have him come down to look at the crack. He referred me to the two major foundation repair firms in the city and said that I should check with them; that the crack sounded to him to be more of a cosmetic/water leakage type issue than anything.
I am going to get the other foundation company down some time to get their evaluation too. I will also see if I can find a foundation consultant in the city that WILL do residential work (I think foundation cracks are somewhat common in my city; everyone I know has one of some kind that has leaked water into their basement)...
In the mean time I think I'm going to construct some simple crack monitors (like this:
http://www.builderswebsource.com/tools/crackmonitor/crackmon.gif )... Glue some overlapping plates of plexi to either side of the crack with a grid-line on each so I can see if there is any movement.
Thanks, Tyler
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Is it a open crack, or just a hair line crack in the wall? You maybe worrying over nothing! There are a couple of hair line cracks in the foundation of my hame, but for a 50 year old house I am not worring about them unless they open up. I know of a house that a foundation crack has opened up. The owner is an retired engineer, so he was put measuring devices on the crack to watch to movement. He said he was pretty concerned when the crack first opened, but now 15 years later, he has pretty much forgotten it as it never amounted to anything. Greg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

This is a picture of the crack:
http://www.egunn.com/crack.jpg
For reference, the stud you see if two 2x4s tied together; not a single one.
The picture shows the left portion of the crack; you can see how it's basically a pressure point on the outside that's caused it to crack. There's no evidence of the crack on the outside of the wall (But it could be so small it's not even visible at that point). In terms of deflection, the wall seems almost perfectly flush; there's no gross visible bulging inwards. The top of the crack is perhaps 1/16" of an inch further in than the bottom.
I think I may have been "shocked" By the foundation company's evaluation. I think perhaps monitoring this on a continuing basis is going to be the best idea. Put some measuring devices on various spots of the crack and make sure that I can access them when the wall is covered up again. If the crack moves significantly, then I think further work would be prudent. If it doesn nothing, then as you said, I'm worrying for nothing.
Heh, funny thing is, I'm sure multiple houses on my street (same style) has this EXACT problem; I'm sure many in my city have this too. The difference is my neighbours have finished basements and unless water leaked wouldn't know.
Thanks! Tyler
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.