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Poured Concrete Foundation Wall Cracks – What You Should Know (Simplified)

Inspector Insights 05.01.2020

Reinforced poured concrete foundations fundamentally changed the way humanity builds. Today, slab-on-grade, basement, and crawlspace foundations are most common. Chances are, your home has a poured concrete foundation. Chances are, it's got a crack.

Today, I am talking about basement foundation wall cracks. And, I'm going to keep this simple.

Shrinkage cracks transparent background

Shrinkage cracks

Some cracks are big. Some cracks are small. Some cracks are big deals. Some, not at all. Some (like shrinkage cracks) may need no repair at all. Cracks run vertical, horizontal, and diagonal. The latter two can be big deals. There can be one or many. Regardless, all foundation cracks should be evaluated and repaired (as required) by bona fide contractors.

Not shrinkage cracks

Not shrinkage cracks

All foundation wall cracks greater than ⅛” should be sealed. This is a best practice. Cracks of this size typically are non-structural and likely do not need review by a structural engineer. They simply need to be professionally sealed to reduce the risk of moisture and/or pest intrusion, and then monitored. Nonstructural foundation cracks generally are repaired by basement waterproofing contractors. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. (Yeah, I wrote that.)

All horizontal cracks and all vertical cracks larger than ⅛” should be presumed structural. Structural foundation cracks likely will have underlying conditions, with the cracks being the result. These must be evaluated by qualified foundation repair contractors. Such contractors may employ or enlist the services of a structural engineer to better determine the appropriate course (or courses) of action.

Crack repair methods

(left) Carbon fiber straps and epoxy injection crack repair, (right) epoxy injection crack repair

There are different ways to repair foundation wall cracks. Industry standards include epoxy injection, carbon fiber strapping, a combination thereof, and others. Your contractor will determine the best method for the repair.

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