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When Should You Worry About Basement Wall Cracks?

Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant

Interior Basement Wall Cracks

If you’re in search of accurate costs to correct basement wall cracks, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s what you’ll learn by the end of this article:

  • How to tell if a basement wall crack is serious
  • How to fix foundation cracks temporarily
  • How to fix concrete cracks permanently
  • How to save money when fixing basement wall cracks

Most homeowners find in time that cracks form in their crawlspace or basement walls. It’s easy to worry about this kind of damage because of how integral your concrete block walls are to your house’s structural stability.

However, cracks in your basement walls can develop for a few different reasons, and not all concrete foundation cracks mean trouble. Some cracks don’t present a problem at all depending on their orientation and size, while others can mean your home has lost its structural integrity.

In this article, we will go over how to tell the difference between problematic cracks and those that can safely just be sealed, how to fix basement wall cracks, and how to save money on basement wall crack solutions.

When Are Basement Wall Cracks A Problem?

All homeowners should know at least how to self-diagnose minor cracks as opposed to potentially dangerous ones. Knowing how to tell the difference can save you time and money when carrying out the concrete repair.

Concrete is fragile and prone to shrinkage during settling, so it would help if you knew the difference between settling cracks and those that may be from issues around your home.

Hairline cracks that run vertically up your concrete wall or on your basement floor are most often from typical settling during the curing process. These cracks should be sealed to stop water from leaking in but don’t indicate structural damage.

Diagonal cracks are often from settling too but could be caused by differential settling in the soil around your foundation. These should be inspected by a professional and may just need to be sealed to stop water seepage.

Horizontal cracks, stair-step cracks, or any gaps that bridge corners of your foundation often mean you have serious damage. These structural cracks should be inspected immediately and corrected by a concrete repair specialist.

These usually need underpinning or some other reinforcement.

Exterior Wall Cracks vs Interior Basement Wall Cracks

You may notice foundation cracks on the inside or outside of your basement wall. There are just a few key differences between the two.

The severity of the problem is about the same. Still, you will find that the solution to fix exterior cracks is usually much more expensive. While you may need to remove drywall inside, exterior repair requires expensive excavation is commonly needed.

Vertical and diagonal cracks in either placement usually mean the same thing. Horizontal cracks lower on your interior basement wall can mean there is an issue with your groundwater. This is more common in areas with a high water table.

Horizontal cracks visible from your home’s exterior mean that they are high up on the wall. These usually form because of drainage problems or excessive runoff from rainfall.

What Are Temporary Solutions for Basement Wall Cracks?

Foundation wall cracks should be repaired to some extent, regardless of their orientation or the width of the gap.

Temporary and even DIY solutions are possible if cracking is minor and is determined by a structural engineer not to be related to structural damage.

Below are some of the temporary fixes for foundation cracks.

Caulk Crack Repair

Applying a waterproof caulk is one of the fastest and most effective ways to fix hairlines vertical or diagonal cracks.

This fix should cost you around $15-25 and can be carried out without professional help. A caulking gun is used to seal any minor damage and stop water from seeping in through the gap.

Hydraulic Cement Crack Repair

Some homeowners and even professionals choose a hydraulic cement. This solution is spread into and over cracks and bonds with both sides of the gap. This temporary solution usually costs around $30, including the cost of a trowel or putty knife for application. All of the materials typically are available at your nearest home improvement store.

We usually recommend this fix be done by a waterproofing contractor because a v-shaped cement cutter needs to be used to prep the concrete before application.

This filler can help keep the crack from getting wider, but it should never be used to treat horizontal or stair-step cracks. The bond it creates isn’t strong enough to add stability to your concrete wall.

Epoxy Crack Injection Repair

An epoxy sealant can be applied to cracks to create a more robust seal than hydraulic cement. The crack is first covered to develop a well-defined channel for the epoxy. Epoxy is then pumped into injection ports and expands to fill the entire gap.

Epoxy injections can add some stability to your wall and help prevent cracks from worsening. However, they do have some limitations, just like other repair methods. They can’t be applied to wet or damp walls, and the injection can disconnect with additional foundation movement.

They’re just a touch more expensive and can be DIYed for about $40-50 in materials. They should only be applied by handy homeowners because they are more complicated and need the surface to be prepped and the initial seal to be applied correctly.

What Are Permanent Solutions For Basement Wall Cracks?

We usually recommend all homeowners choose permanent repair solutions over temporary ones. Foundation issues tend to get worse over time because they are under so much stress from your house and the hydrostatic pressure in the soil. Temporary fixes always fail in time and need to be replaced with better solutions.

We’ll describe the solutions that can permanently fix your basement wall crack problem below.

Polyurethane Polymer Repair

Polyurethane polymer bonds very strongly to your concrete. It can add some structural integrity to your basement wall and stop the crack from widening.

Polyurethane polymer’s viscosity makes it easier to apply than other sealants and can be applied to wet concrete. It can withstand some foundation movement because it can spring and stretch while maintaining strength.

This fix can be a good DIY project and will only cost about $40-50 total.

Urethane Sealing Repair

Urethane sealing is another cheap but effective solution for foundation cracks. It holds good strength after it cures and can flex like polyurethane polymer.

It isn’t recommended for casual DIYers because it needs a similar application to epoxy crack injections. The concrete is prepped and sealed on the surface before being filled with urethane sealant through injection ports. It fills cracks near the surface but doesn’t seep far into the gap.

Any water that does get in through the wall crack will be kept behind your inner wall surface or re-routed.

A urethane sealant is the most expensive of the repair materials and usually costs around $100 for supplies.

This is a perfect example of why it’s best to connect with one of our seasoned professionals to evaluate your unique situation and prevent any costly mistakes.

When Should You Repair Your Basement Wall Crack?

We recommend that any foundation crack be repaired to whatever extent is needed as soon as it is found. Vertical cracks should be sealed as quickly as possible before they lead to basement leaks.

Horizontal, diagonal, and stair-step cracks must be serviced by a concrete repair specialist or engineer immediately.

Hairline cracks that run vertically or on a slight angle usually aren’t a cause for concern and can be monitored for leaking or widening. Any gap that reaches ⅛” wide needs sealing, but we suggest sealing even smaller cracks once you notice them.

How To Save Money When Fixing Basement Wall Cracks?

Basement wall cracks can be tricky to repair and sometimes need expensive professionals to come in and seal or reinforce them. Many homeowners look for money-saving options, especially for smaller cracks that don’t present much of a problem other than leaking. There are some ways to save money when fixing your foundation cracks.

The best way to save money over time is to treat the root cause of the leaking cracks you work to prevent with basement waterproofing. Poor drainage in your yard usually is what leads to leaks in your basement.

Using other techniques to keep your concrete dry in combination with the foundation crack repair will save you money on more repairs in the future.

We also recommend doing some of the above repairs yourself with a crack repair kit if you are handy because it can save you hundreds of dollars on the cost of labor. Crack repair is usually straightforward and can be just as permanent if you do it yourself.

You may need a structural engineer to confirm there is no structural damage, but the actual fix can be done for under $50 in most cases.

Lastly, you can save money by doing your wall crack repair as soon as the crack is found. Cracks widen over time and become more likely to let water in.

Fixing cracks as they appear and form can stop them from becoming bigger problems.

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Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant
SHORT BIO: Hey, I'm Sam Smith. I'm one of our service techs here at Regional Foundation Repair. I'm here to help you learn more about your home's foundation. I've been doing this for a while, so I have a few insider tips and tricks to share!

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