Foundation wall cracks are incredibly common in homes that have basements. When left unaddressed, today’s tiny crack can (and often does) morph into tomorrow’s yawning chasm that then leads to bowed, sagging, leaning and separating foundation walls, pooled moisture and a severely compromised basement space.
The good news here is that you have affordable options to fix cracks in your foundation walls. In this post, learn six reasons why you really want to fix that small crack now before it gets worse!
Why Foundation Walls Form Cracks
What causes cracks to form in your home’s foundation walls? Cracks can actually form for a variety of reasons, but most reasons boil down to uneven pressure combined with inadequate support.
Basement walls face a set of challenges different from those of above-ground home or workplace walls. Because basement walls are surrounded on the outside by soil rather than open air, the pressures they must combat can change quite suddenly.
A single heavy rainfall or a forgotten garden hose left running can create intense hydrostatic pressure as trapped moisture presses against the exterior wall looking for a way out.
As well, over time, changing soil composition, a rising water table, uneven landscape grading or failing drains, window wells and gutters can increase that hydrostatic pressure, forcing basement walls to do even more heavy lifting to hold their place.
As the years go by and the walls themselves begin to degrade, fissures and cracks can form. As these widen, especially along seams and joints, the walls will begin to bow, sag or lean in ways that place pressure on the entire structure.
6 Reasons to Fix Foundation Wall Cracks Without Delay
These are just six of the many reasons you may want to give us a call to get a free, no-obligation inspection and EasyQuote estimate.
1. Cracks mean leaks
Most foundation wall cracks begin as fissures so small it is difficult to see them without a microscope. What widens them over time is the continual hydrostatic pressure and influx of small amounts of moisture.
Concrete is a naturally porous building material that begins to shift and settle organically even as it dries. But the continual pressure of water on these initial micro-fissures inevitably widens them into cracks, which can then become internal basement leaks.
Leaks may initially produce small amounts of humidity or efflorescence (that powdery white residue left behind when water dries and is reduced to mineral salts). But all that can change when severe weather hits or your aging sump pump conks out.
2. Cracks invite mould
For many homeowners, all it takes is mention of one dreaded word, “mould,” to prompt an inquiry about a foundation wall crack repair estimate.
Mould is typically more prevalent in basements than above the ground because conditions are naturally moister, darker and more humid – just the type of atmosphere mould and mildew like most.
Since mould and mildew spores can colonize micro-cracks and often form new colonies behind the scenes in wood or drywall, by the time you discover you have a problem, it may be major rather than minor.
3. Cracks invite visitors
For other homeowners, even the threat of mould may not be sufficient to prompt immediate action to repair foundation wall cracks.
But all that changes at their first sight of a four, six or eight-legged visitor.
To you, wall cracks are problems brewing. But to many inhabitants of this world we share, wall cracks are like welcome signs – opportunity knocking with a deal too good to pass up.
Birds, rodents, flying or crawling insects, snakes and other wild visitors are all too happy to take up residence in handy fissures and cracks, moving deeper inside as cracks widen, until they join you in your home!
4. Cracks won’t fix themselves
A basement wall crack is not going to resolve on its own. It is not always necessary to repair a developing basement crack immediately, especially if it isn’t in the current budget. But it is smart to at least get the crack inspected and have an estimate of repair costs to use for future repair planning.
5. Cracks can lead to structural issues
Cracks can form pretty much anywhere along your basement walls, but some of the more common places include along the outlines of cinder blocks, along wall and floor seams, around windows and doors, and at the seam between wall and ceiling.
Unaddressed cracks can cause walls to bow, sag, slope or even pull away from the rest of the structure.
6. Today’s cracks are less expensive than tomorrow’s wider cracks
We have yet to meet a homeowner who is excited to dig into their home maintenance budget to repair basement wall cracks.
But there can be some satisfaction, at least, in knowing that the cracks you fix today will always cost less than the cracks you neglect that become bigger and more expensive tomorrow.
Get in Touch
Have you noticed warning signs of basement moisture or basement leaks? Do you see small basement wall cracks forming and are you not sure how worried you should be?
We can help. Best of all, we can help for FREE – we never charge to come out and do a full inspection and leave you with a written repair estimate quote.
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
Sump pumps are one of the more mysterious elements of home ownership.
While most new homes in Ontario have some type of sump pump system, most homeowners (and especially first-time homebuyers) do not realize this may not be enough to protect your home from water damage.
With older homes, sump systems are less likely to be routed properly for new groundwater and runoff management regulations and are even less likely to have a backup system in place.
Understanding what type of sump pump system you have, what it will (or won’t) do if there is a power outage, how water is routed and how the system is supposed to work is critical to avoid damage due to seepage, leaks or outright flooding.
In this post, we talk about what you need to know about your sump system to protect your home and basement.
Sump Pumps Need Regular Maintenance
When was the last time you scheduled a safety inspection and preventative maintenance service for your sump system?
If you recently purchased your home and the previous owner did not provide good records, you may have no idea if this service has ever been done.
Yet sump pumps, just like other major appliances, require regular maintenance to work properly and ward off major repairs and outages. A sump system that is neglected can readily develop leaking seals, a faulty motor or parts that begin to rust or break.
You should schedule an inspection and preventative maintenance at least annually to clean the screen, the pump mechanism and the sump pit. Making small repairs, adding lubrication and adjusting the float can keep small issues from turning into major outages.
Your Sump Pump May Not Work In a Power Outage
Sump systems all too often fall into our “out of sight, out of mind” category – we may not be consciously aware on a day-to-day basis of how frequently our sump system runs or how well it runs.
Yet unless your sump pump has a backup system in place, it will likely fail to work during a power outage, which is often the time you need its protection the most!
There are different types of backup systems you can choose, from simple organic systems powered by water pressure to battery-operated backups and generator-run backups.
The important action is to make sure you have a backup system in place before you need it!
Sump Pumps Shouldn’t Run Continuously
You have a sump pump system in place to keep water from accumulating in your basement. If your sump system is running, this means it is doing its job.
But if your sump pump is running all the time, this in itself is a signal that all is not well in your basement.
A continuously running sump pump system indicates that water is constantly making its way inside your basement. Not only will a constantly-running sump pump experience more wear and tear that can reduce its useful life, but there may come a time when it can no longer keep up with the influx of water.
One of the leading causes of sudden sump system failure is overwork. Your sump pump system should not be running all the time.
There are a number of potential issues that may cause constant water influx, from shifting soil to a rising water table, widening cracks in basement walls or foundations, and more.
What to Do If Your Sump Pump Is Always Running
If your sump pump seems to never stop running, it is time to look deeper to find out why.
Identify leaks and seal them
Identifying separating wall and floor seals, micro-fissures or cracks, blocked wells or broken drains and other causes of chronic moisture influx is vital so that you can take preventative steps to keep this moisture out.
A number of affordable basement waterproofing options exist to reduce the workload and wear and tear on your sump pump system.
In most cases, the most effective approach will be interior basement waterproofing combined with crack or fissure repair as needed.
If you have blocked window wells or drains or your existing exterior gutter and drainage system is allowing water to flow back into your basement, making upgrades can effectively route moisture away and reduce your sump system’s workload.
Ensuring your sump pump has a backup
The next vital step is to make sure your sump pump isn’t alone in its efforts to keep your basement sound and dry.
If your sump pump is older, it may be time to talk about an upgrade to a newer, more efficient and powerful model. Installing a sump pump backup system at the same time can ensure you get the most value out of your new sump long term.
Even if your sump pump still has a lot of useful life left in it, installing a backup system will ensure it won’t fail you when you need it most.
Installing a backup system can not only protect your home today from water damage and flooding, but also enhance the resale value of your property when it comes time to sell.
Get a FREE Book on Dry Basement Science
If you have concerns about a continuously running sump pump or basement moisture, we can help.
Contact us for a FREE no-obligation site inspection and written estimate, plus a free copy of our book Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
A firm foundation is fundamental for your home. After all, without it, every other structure that holds your house in place, from the crawl space or basement to the walls, ceilings and even the chimney, is at risk.
Yet it isn’t always intuitive to make the connection between structural problems you observe in walls, ceilings, doors, windows or floors and issues with your home’s foundation.
For instance, when a wall cracks, a chimney leans or a floor starts sagging, it can seem a world away from the foundation.
But these are exactly the kinds of common warning signs that arise to let you know your foundation needs some long-overdue attention!
Cracks in the Walls
Seeing a crack in the wall can be alarming. Instantly, the sense of security you felt evaporates. You start to wonder what’s causing it and then worry your home will fall down around you.
While most wall cracks appear to deliver a milder warning, if left unchecked, they certainly can cause a wall collapse as they widen and worsen.
Walls Bowing In or Out
If wall cracks are alarming, then the sight of a wall leaning inward or outward is downright horrifying. Most often, the cause is soil expansion.
Your soil type can also play its part in putting extra pressure on walls. Some soils are particularly absorbent and expansive (clay soil is an excellent example) and can trap moisture next to your basement walls.
If this moisture cannot dissipate naturally, or if it freezes (called “frost heaving”), it can expand in the soil further and cause more extreme wall movement.
Perhaps the most terrifying sight of all is when you look at your chimney one day and notice it has started to lean. This is especially the case when the chimney leans away from (rather than toward) the rest of your house!
Without correction from the foundation up, a leaning chimney can actually separate completely from the house structure and cause a tear all the way down to the basement floor level.
Cracks in the Brick
The two most common types of cracks in bricking are bottom-up and top-down. Where it starts and the direction the crack moves has everything to do with how your foundation is moving.
Cracks in the Floor
Floor cracks may be hard to spot in the early stages, especially if you have overlay such as tile, wood or carpeting obscuring the concrete.
These types of cracks are easier to see if you have an unfinished basement with a concrete floor.
Floors Begin to Slope
A simpler way to detect foundation movement is if formerly even floorspace begins to slope downward in one direction.
At first, walking across a sloping floor can feel like your sense of balance playing tricks with you. But over time, this slope becomes more radical and you no longer doubt it is real.
Windows and Doors Stop Working
When the foundation becomes sufficiently compromised, secondary symptoms will start popping up inside your home.
Two of the most common of these symptoms are when windows or doors either start sticking and won’t open properly or when they refuse to stay closed.
Other similar symptoms include cabinets and countertops that begin to separate from the wall and cabinet drawers that won’t open or won’t stay shut.
White Residue on Walls or Floors
When your foundation becomes compromised through micro-fissures and cracks, this often allows moisture to seep through.
While you may not see the damp or standing water, this moisture will leave behind a calling card—a white powdery residue called “efflorescence.”
Efflorescence looks so much like dust that at first you may not realize what you are looking at. But when the dust appears in places that normally don’t get dusty and it keeps recurring, it is quite likely not dust at all but evaporated mineral salts the water carried in with it.
Affordable Foundation Solutions
It’s not fun to realize your formerly solid foundation is starting to develop problems. Yet foundation issues are incredibly common especially as a home ages.
As well, the vast majority of home foundation problems arise from changes to the surrounding soil—shifting or sinking soil, expanding (moisture-laden) soil, contracting soil due to erosion or drought, changes to the water table that then changes the home’s grading, blocked or broken drains, and more.
The most important thing to remember is that foundation issues do not ever correct themselves. Rather, they typically get worse over time. The longer a foundation problem goes unaddressed, the more challenging and expensive the solution tends to become.
The good news is, foundation repair technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the last decade. Today’s foundation repairs are quicker, cheaper and longer-lasting as well as much more aesthetically appealing.
The best news of all is that affordable foundation waterproofing solutions can prevent moisture seepage from returning to undo all the good work of past repairs.
By combining foundation waterproofing with crack repair and structural support, you protect your home in the present and enhance its future resale value as well.
Wall anchors, braces and reinforcers; pier and slab foundation support; crawl space jack support; moisture barrier; and waterproofing can be applied as needed, separately or in combination, to repair existing foundation problems and prevent their recurrence.
Get in Touch
Have you noticed any of the warning signs mentioned in this post happening to your home? Are you worried your foundation may not be as sturdy as you’d hoped? Complete this simple, secure online form for a free, no-obligation inspection and quote!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
When you own a home, you never know when the day may come that you walk into your basement and notice one of your walls has developed a crack.
Even though finding a crack in your basement wall is always going to be stressful, it can help to know this is actually quite common.
This is especially the case in older homes and in those built on unstable terrain where soil has a high natural moisture content, such as near the beach. But any home can develop a crack in the basement wall given sufficient time and the right types of pressure.
What is important is not to panic, but to take a deep breath and follow the steps we outline in this post.
4 Types of Basement Walls
There are four basic types of basement walls used in residential construction today.
Poured concrete wall
The most common type is the poured concrete wall. As the name indicates, a poured concrete wall is created by pouring wet concrete into some type of wood or metal frame and allowing it to set.
Concrete block wall
The second most common type of wall is the concrete block wall, also sometimes called the cinder block wall or masonry block wall. The name gives its structure away—these are pre-made stacked blocks held together with mortar.
Solid concrete wall
Another relatively common wall type is the pre-made solid concrete wall. With this type of wall, the concrete is poured to set ahead of time and the drywall is then transported to the building site and set into place.
Brick, stone, clay wall
Brick, clay and stone walls are no longer common, but are still found in vintage and historic homes with basements.
3 Types of Basement Wall Cracks
Basement wall cracks can happen for a variety of reasons. However, there are three main categories of triggers for the majority of basement wall cracks.
Shrinkage describes what happens when a poured concrete wall starts to dry. Some amount of shrinkage is to be expected as the poured concrete dries, even under optimal weather and “curing” (concrete drying) conditions.
However, a number of variables can interact to create less than optimal conditions for curing a newly poured concrete wall. Dramatic temperature shifts, sub-optimal concrete mixes, super-wet or dry conditions and other factors can impact how much shrinkage occurs and how that shrinkage affects your basement walls.
Settling is what happens when your basement walls begin to interact with the surrounding soil or water table.
This might happen over time as a result of shifting terrain or changing water table levels or soil composition. Or it could happen more rapidly after a severe weather event such as a major flood.
Movement can include settling. When the surrounding soil and terrain shifts, this can cause your basement walls and foundation to shift.
Poor drainage, blocked window wells or inadequate landscape grading can also cause hydrostatic pressure against one or more basement walls, causing them to bow inward or outward, lean, tilt or bulge.
3 Steps to Take After Noticing a Basement Wall Crack
First and foremost, what you need to know is that any crack in your basement wall always carries a message with it. Your job is to decode the message your basement is sending you and that will tell you what steps to take next.
1. Call in the pros
Unfortunately, most homeowners know little if anything about deciphering basement wall crack messages. For this, you will want to bring in an expert who can examine the crack in detail, figure out how it may have formed and what, if any, action needs to be taken next.
Some cracks are relatively normal, even unavoidable. Shrinkage-related cracks, for example, will nearly always happen when your basement walls are constructed from poured concrete. The goal here is to minimize the shrinkage, not eradicate it entirely.
But other cracks are more serious, even if they don’t always look serious. Some basement wall cracks are so slight they are almost impossible to see with the naked eye, and you can detect them only when a white material called “efflorescence” starts to form near the crack. Efflorescence is a build-up of mineral salts left behind when seeping moisture evaporates.
2. Evaluate your options
Basement experts have all kinds of wonderful technology that can help diagnose what is causing basement cracks, how serious those cracks may be and the best corrective options.
Many homeowners are quite reluctant to reach out to an expert, thinking it will lead to thousands of dollars in basement repair expenses. The important thing to remember here is that you simply need to know what is wrong. You don’t necessarily need to take action to fix it right away.
Some cracks are relatively minor and may only require the help of a dehumidifier to extract excess moisture to prevent mould and mildew growth. For cracks that do represent significant structural impact, the more you can learn about what has caused the crack, the better you can plan ahead and budget to fix it.
3. Create your corrective plan of action
All kinds of creative options are available today to fix foundation cracks.
Sometimes the simplest option is affordable basement waterproofing, which effectively seals up your basement walls and foundation from the inside against cracks and the resultant leaks.
Sometimes a two-step approach is required—first repairing cracks by installing supportive wall anchors, braces or reinforcers and then applying basement waterproofing to prevent additional moisture from entering your basement space.
Get in Touch
Are you concerned because you have recently found evidence of a basement wall crack or moisture seepage inside your basement? We can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
If you have a basement or are planning new construction including a basement, chances are good you are already thinking about basement waterproofing.
Perhaps you are wondering if waterproofing basement walls from inside can protect your new basement from moisture and leaks later on.
Or maybe your question is about whether waterproofing basement walls from inside could be a potential fix for leaks or dampness in your existing basement.
Read on to learn the answers to these and other basement waterproofing questions!
Hydrostatic Pressure: What It Is & How It Causes Leaks
If you had to take a guess, how much do you think a single cubic inch of rainwater weighs as it presses against your basement walls?
According to range scientists, one cubic inch of rainwater can weigh 60 pounds or more as it presses against your basement walls. This is called “hydrostatic pressure” and it is a major cause for basement leaks.
With continual hydrostatic pressure from sprinkler runoff, storm water, underground springs or even your local water table, your walls will be hard-pressed to keep that water out forever.
What happens when there is more than one cubic inch of water in the soil surrounding your basement walls?
Imagine hundreds or even thousands of pounds of water pressing against your basement structure. How long will the integrity of the walls and floors, seams and joints withstand this kind of force?
Wrap It To Protect It: How Waterproofing Works
When you are about to head outside and see that it has started to rain, what do you do before you leave? If you are like many, you probably grab an umbrella or, better yet, a raincoat!
With the right accessories, you can stay dry even while standing in pouring water. This is the same basic concept that helped invent today’s basement waterproofing treatments.
There are two basic methods for waterproofing a basement: exterior and interior.
Exterior waterproofing is really only financially feasible when you are waterproofing a new basement-in-progress as part of a preventative measure or when you only need to treat a single wall that has been noticeably impacted from the outside by something like a tree root.
Otherwise, the cost to excavate fully around your basement walls, apply the treatment and restore the soil and landscaping is typically prohibitive.
Waterproofing basement walls from inside is the first-choice treatment for homeowners who need to address an issue with seepage, standing water or moisture in an existing basement structure.
Different Types of Inside Basement Waterproofing
The type of inside basement waterproofing treatment you choose will depend on what type of water problem you are facing.
Some issues can be fully resolved by simply applying the basement waterproofing treatment to seal your basement interior and prevent further moisture from entering.
However, some issues need preparatory repair treatments before the waterproofing treatment can be applied.
Once larger cracks or leaks have formed, this two-phase approach to inside basement waterproofing is necessary to both preserve the structural integrity of your basement and prevent further moisture from entering.
How to Know Your Basement Needs Waterproofing
Your basement has its own way to communicate with you that something is wrong. These warning signs are each indications you may need to consider waterproofing basement walls from inside.
Humidity and dampness
Humid basement air and damp walls let you know that somehow, somewhere, moisture is seeping into your basement.
A dehumidifier can offer a band-aid solution, but the only sure way to prevent mould and mildew from forming is to seal up micro-fissures and cracks with an inside waterproofing treatment.
Sump pump running
When your sump pump never seems to fully shut off, this can be a sign that water is continually seeping into your basement from somewhere.
Water may be entering from walls or flooring. In these types of situations, often basement waterproofing is combined with the installation of a backup sump pump for peace of mind.
Do you dread going down into your basement because it always smells...off? Musty, damp, grassy—these are some ways homeowners describe the unmistakable aroma of “dirty gym socks” that often arises once mould and mildew has begun to form.
Mould and mildew of any strain can be particularly concerning because spores can colonize in micro-fissures where no human eye can ever detect them. Over time as the colony grows, you may begin to see discolouration on the interior walls, but odour is definitely going to be your first warning sign.
Once mould has formed, it will be necessary to get an evaluation for remediation work before it is safe to proceed with interior basement waterproofing.
White powder on walls
Efflorescence is the technical term for the white powdery residue that remains once water has evaporated. The white powder is from the salt present in the water.
Seeing efflorescence anywhere inside your basement is a clear indication that water has been there. This residue must be cleaned off before your basement can be waterproofed.
Obvious leaks or standing water
The sign most likely to trigger outright alarm in homeowners is the sight of water leaking into or pooling on the floor.
Here, the first order of business is always to seal the leak before proceeding to seal the basement with inside waterproofing.
Inside Basement Waterproofing Solutions
The science of structural waterproofing has come a long way over the last decade. Today, we have so many treatments for waterproofing basement walls from inside.
Crack and fissure repair, drainage and downspout upgrades, mould-repellent insulation, sump system backups, well and window drains, damp-proofing and both exterior and interior waterproofing can give you present-day peace of mind and enhance the potential resale value of your home in the future!
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
Discovering water or moisture inside your basement can be stressful. For starters, the source of the water may not be obvious.
Even if it is clear where the moisture is coming in from, there is still the issue of figuring out the best type of permanent fix.
Plus, where there is one basement leak, it is very likely there are more, and these may not be so easy to spot!
What should you do when you discover moisture or water in your basement? What type of treatment will make sure the problem doesn’t reappear again or show up in another location later on?
We will answer these and other important questions about how to fix a foundation leak from the inside—for good!
The Good News & the Bad News About Foundation Leaks
Every day, a homeowner in Canada will wander down to the basement to discover moisture. It might come in the form of general dampness, a lingering humidity in the air or a slight sheen on the walls and floors.
It might show up first as window condensation or mildew that starts to colonize a neglected chilly corner.
Or it might appear as a drip, a trickle or, worst of all, a gush of water coming into the basement from somewhere else in or around your foundation.
Here, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that you have discovered the leak. This means you can fix it before it gets even worse.
The bad news is that, just as with roof leaks, where there is one foundation leak you can see, there is likely to be another you can’t see, and that leak may continue to get worse until it finally makes its presence known with disastrous consequences.
Is Patching Up a Foundation Leak Enough?
Here, it nearly goes without saying that your newly discovered foundation leak hasn’t arrived at a convenient moment.
You probably don’t have wads of extra cash languishing about in your savings account for just such a homeowner’s repair need as this.
Even if you do have stacks of cash saved up, chances are good you weren’t planning to spend it on patching up a leaky foundation!
So if you are like most homeowners, you are keen to spend as little as possible to take care of the leak and move on to other, greener (and drier) pastures.
But will a patch do it? How can you know for sure? The answer is that opting for a simple, single-leak patch is always going to be a gamble.
When patching the leak makes sense
The argument for patching the single leak and calling it a day is when it seems fairly clear the leak is caused by a single structural issue that is unlikely to be found elsewhere.
For example, let’s say that with a bit of exterior excavation, your technician discovers a massive tree root pressing in on your foundation wall that is allowing stormwater and runoff from your lawn watering system to seep inside your home.
This is a great example of a situation you are unlikely to find elsewhere, and thus applying a single patch to the leak you’ve found may be enough to resolve the issue.
When patching a leak does not make sense
Over time, even the sturdiest foundation can begin to experience age-related wear and tear. And if the original foundation was not so sturdy or well-constructed, this is going to intensify the degradation once it begins.
A foundation that is settling incrementally due to age, wear and tear, changing soil conditions or other comprehensive factors will probably need more than a band-aid leak patch to resolve the issue.
What to Do When You Discover a Foundation Leak
If the word “panic” springs to mind here, you are definitely not alone! It is only natural to panic when you discover the underlying structure you rely on to support the rest of your home is no longer in perfect working order!
What you really need is to know the extent of the issue so you can make some decisions about what to do now, what to do later and how to budget for the essential repairs.
So the best first step is to contact a professional to do a leak assessment. With today’s modern moisture detection tools, we can identify the scope of the moisture issue and assess the existing and potential impact to your home.
Once you know what is wrong, you can make decisions about next steps. We can talk through options for repairs, including leak patches and waterproofing options.
Fix Your Foundation Leak from the Inside with Waterproofing
If you are an experienced homeowner, you may have heard about different types of foundation waterproofing services. There are two main foundation waterproofing methods: exterior waterproofing and interior waterproofing.
Exterior waterproofing can be a great option as a preventative treatment for new construction or during a major renovation.
At other times, interior waterproofing is generally regarded as the better option. Interior waterproofing doesn’t require displacement of surrounding soil, lawn and landscaping, and it can typically be done in such a way to preserve a basement space (if applicable) as a useable part of your home.
Plus (and this is the part most homeowners like the best!) interior foundation waterproofing is cheaper than exterior waterproofing.
Foundation waterproofing can fix a foundation leak from the inside either as a standalone solution or in conjunction with other repairs that may be needed (for example, mould or moisture remediation, bowed or cracked walls, walls separating, foundation settling).
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect your foundation may have a leak! We can help.
Even the most solid house construction will develop cracks at some point in time. But there are different types and sizes of cracks, and some are more concerning than others.
Basement cracks can be tough to diagnose. Warning signs may initially be slight—the kind where you shake your head and think that maybe you’re imagining that musty odour or increasing humidity.
In this post, we teach you what you need to know about how to diagnose and fix a crack in your basement wall.
Types of Basement Wall Cracks
The first thing you need to know is that your basement walls can develop different types of cracks.
You may have just one type of crack in your basement wall or you may have all different types of cracks. Which types of cracks you'll see depends on the types of pressures your basement is experiencing and how it is constructed.
The basic types of cracks are horizontal, vertical, diagonal and stair-step.
Horizontal cracks are commonly caused by the natural shrinkage of drying concrete. These cracks can be the toughest to spot because they are often quite tiny!
The biggest risk with horizontal cracks is moisture seepage. Because they can be so difficult to spot, it is important to know other warning signs to look for. Increasing humidity, a grassy or musty odour, allergy symptoms, and formation of mildew or mould are the most common warning signs.
Vertical cracks are commonly caused when a basement wall begins to bow during or after construction. There are many reasons a wall may bow inward, including pressure from surrounding earth, especially if the crack is midway up the wall where pressure is greatest.
These cracks are typically easier to spot—they tend to be larger and will continue to spread over time. The biggest risk with vertical cracks is structural damage to your home.
Diagonal cracks can develop in several ways. Sometimes the crack will be wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. The reverse is also possible. Diagonal cracks can also develop around structures like windows and doors. If your basement is missing anchor bolts or the surrounding earth is causing pressure, these cracks may start to appear.
These cracks are typically pretty easy to spot except when they form around windows or doors and are quite small or hidden by door jambs or window sills. The biggest risk with diagonal cracks is that the structural integrity of your basement can decrease.
Stair-step cracks form for similar reasons as for diagonal cracks. But these types of cracks will only form in basements constructed using concrete blocks rather than poured concrete. As their name suggests, stair-step cracks follow the structure of the blocks, leading to a "stair-step" crack pattern.
The biggest risk with these types of cracks is, again, the structural integrity of the basement being compromised.
What to Do If You Suspect Basement Cracks
Home ownership comes with an ongoing steep learning curve. Most of us don't go into home ownership knowing exactly what steps to take when our basement wall develops a crack.
So there can be a very natural moment of panic followed by lots of questions! This is quite normal and we get these types of calls every day.
Whenever you suspect or visibly see cracks forming in your basement walls, the first step is always to do more research. You want to find out what is causing the crack. You also want to know if there are other cracks. And you want to know whether the cracks you are seeing are the type where a "watch and wait" approach is recommended or if you need to take action right now.
Have a professional come out and do this research and make a diagnosis. This way you are not wondering and worrying. You know what you are dealing with and what your options are, and you can make practical decisions.
How to Fix a Crack in Your Basement Wall
You now know that there are several types of basement cracks that can form. Some may form right away due to the natural process of drying concrete. Others may form later due to structural changes in the earth surrounding your basement. Still others may form for other reasons relating to how well your basement was constructed or the types of materials used.
The good news here is that regardless of the types of cracks you are seeing or how mild or severe they may be, they absolutely can be fixed!
The most common fixes we recommend include these:
Providing more support to your basement walls is always a good idea when there are changes due to the surrounding earth. For this reason, we often recommend installation of additional wall anchors to prevent further movement of basement walls due to outside pressures.
Basement waterproofing is the most effective tool we have found to fix cracks that may not be causing severe structural concerns but nevertheless present their own significant risks if left unaddressed.
For example, basement waterproofing can be a particularly important step to take if you have the types of hairline cracks that are permitting moisture to seep in. This can lead to mildew and mould that will literally rot your home from the inside out.
These fixes are sometimes recommended in tandem when your basement structure has developed multiple types of wall cracks.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect your basement may have a crack!
If you were asked what part of your home is the most important structure, what would your answer be? Many homeowners would say it is their home’s foundation.
The foundation of a home isn’t glamorous. It doesn’t get any attention at open houses or holiday parties. No one decorates it with lights or gushes to friends and neighbours about how awesome it looks.
But we sure do notice when it starts to crack, bow, sag, slope or leak! This is also typically when our phone starts ringing here at Omni Basement Systems.
Discovering a foundation repair need is stressful from a time, cost and resale value level. In this timely post, we take you on a quick tour of your home’s foundation, talking about how structural issues such as cracks, leaks and shifting can develop and then outlining our recommended solutions.
What Causes Foundation Problems
Foundation troubles are an incredibly common issue many homeowners are facing today. This especially holds true for owners of older homes.
The unpleasant truth is that no foundation will last indefinitely. As with sump pumps, HVAC systems and other essential home structures that work constantly, foundations are also likely to face leaks, cracks, degradation and other issues over time.
However, aside from simple old age, there are also other known issues that can cause your foundation to start to crack even if it is still well within the boundaries of its useful life. Here are examples of some of the most common issues we encounter:
Compromised crawl spaces
Crawl spaces, as their name suggests, provide access points to important interior home structures. They are also useful to provide extra ventilation underneath and around your home to guard against the growth of mould and mildew.
Over time, the crawl spaces themselves can begin to sag, tilt, slope or sink for a variety of reasons. This can then cause a ripple effect that leads to foundation cracks and other issues at higher levels.
It is natural for a home’s foundation to begin to settle as the years pass. However, when this settling process happens unevenly, it can cause sufficient pressure that the foundation itself begins to sag and/or crack.
What is happening with the soil that surrounds your home’s foundation will always impact your foundation in some way. Moisture-saturated soil can in time place pressure on the foundation and basement walls causing structural issues.
Warning Signs of Foundation Repair Issues
How do you know when your foundation has developed an issue? Figuring out when your foundation needs extra attention can feel like a particularly challenging game of hide and seek as you look for the telltale signs of foundation disrepair.
No foundation is free from cracks. Just the process of laying the foundation, drying and curing it can cause small cracks to form.
However, not all cracks appear conveniently in highly visible locations where you can point right to them when your service technician arrives for a diagnostic check. Sometimes cracks are hidden away under cosmetic flooring or even appear only on the outside.
It is also important to look up and out—at times, cracks caused by foundation settling or shifting will actually begin at the top of the home and work their way down toward the foundation.
Bulging, bowing, sagging, sinking or sloping
When walls or floors start bowing, sagging, bulging or sinking, this can be another warning sign the foundation needs attention. This is especially the case if walls start bowing inward (from the pressure of moisture-saturated soil outside) or if there is movement in the lowest floor in your home.
Floors that seem to slope downward toward one side of the home can be another signal from your foundation that something is wrong.
Windows and/or doors don’t fit in their frames
Whether the issue is that doors or windows no longer close easily or they won’t stay closed at all but swing right back open after you shut them, the foundation may be at least partly or fully to blame.
Whether you are seeing white powdery residue, black or brown powder, greenish slime, rusty discolouration, dark patches or some other unusual colour changes, these changes may indicate the foundation has developed leaks that are seeping through to affect your interior.
Issues like mould and mildew can be tough to spot, but their odour often gives their presence away. Dank, damp, grassy or simply malodorous—some liken the smell of a growing mould colony to a pile of sweaty socks—new unpleasant scents are another potential warning sign of foundation repair needs.
How to Fix Foundation Cracks
Once your foundation becomes compromised through leaks, cracks, mould or mildew, moisture and other causes, it isn’t going to fix itself over time. Whatever foundation issues have arisen are likely to worsen the longer you wait to tackle the repairs.
Here are some of the foundation solutions we frequently recommend for repairing a compromised foundation:
These handy anchors reinforce existing walls against exterior pressure from surrounding soil.
Interior wall braces
Interior wall braces are an alternative to wall anchors that may work better in certain circumstances.
Wall reinforcing straps
This fix is designed to prevent further foundation damage in the future by stabilizing your existing walls with carbon fiber straps.
We use two types of piers: slab piers and foundation piers. Both kinds of piers provide reinforcing stabilization in different ways from deep below your home.
Crawl space jacks can lend extra support to the beams of your crawl spaces to help stabilize sagging, sloping or bowed floors.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect foundation issues!