As a rule, foundations do crack. The trick is knowing when to be alarmed and when to chill.

The direction the crack flows is important to note. If it’s horizontal and hairline, relax because those kinds of cracks are common and the least worrisome. However, if the horizontal crack runs the length of your house or is on the wider side, you’ll need to take a closer look.

Vertical cracks or those that look like the profile of a set of stairs are more serious and could signal a problem.

Smooth, hairline breaks in concrete are generally not severe and require a quick fix. However, if you see a crack that comes with a bulge, that leaks water or is big enough that your fingertip can fit in it, begin looking for a foundation specialist.

Some experts say if the crack is bigger than 1/16th of an inch, you’ll need to repair it. Remember, water, vermin and pests can enter a home through tiny cracks so it’s best to fix them before they get worse.

Cracks usually occur due to concrete shrinkage, excessive moisture in the earth that surrounds the home’s foundation, a house settling or the freezing and thawing that occurs in the ground in climate zones that have four seasons.

Crack injection is the preferred method of interior foundation crack repair.  This means sealing the split from the inside and injecting an epoxy or urethane resin and filling the crack all the way to the outside wall.

It’s a bigger deal to evaluate if the cracks need to be repaired on the outside of your home. This often involves costly measures that include, digging below the earth, installing drainage pipes, filter fabric and gravel. The job definitely requires a professional.

It is highly unlikely that your house insurance will cover the cost of such a repair. Foundation cracks are seen as a maintenance issue that the homeowner needs to look after.