Are you searching for information about a horizontal crack in your basement wall? If so, don’t hit that back button because you’ve landed on the right page. In this article, we’re going to talk about the two different types of foundation cracks, whether or not a horizontal crack in a basement wall is serious, what causes horizontal cracks in a basement wall, repair options, and more.
Types Of Foundation Cracks
There are two types of foundation cracks, structural and non-structural. Structural cracks are those that affect your home’s structural integrity. Non-structural cracks are, for the most part, just unsightly. Unfortunately, a horizontal crack in a basement wall is undoubtedly structural. In other words, it’s serious.
Here are some characteristics of both structural and non-structural cracks:
A structural crack may be:
Wider than 1/10 inch
Wider at one end
Stair step-shaped (if in brick or masonry)
On a bowed wall
A series of vertical cracks next to each other
Diagonal across a wall
Diagonal from the corners of windows and doors
A crack that runs across a ceiling and down a wall
If you see any of the above cracks, contact an experienced foundation repair contractor right away for an inspection. Whatever you do, don’t delay. Structural cracks get worse over time, and if you wait, you’ll pay more for the repair.
A non-structural crack may be:
Less than 1/10 inch wide
Limited to one concrete block (probably caused during transport to the construction site)
While non-structural cracks don’t affect your home’s structural integrity, that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Non-structural hairline cracks in a basement wall, for example, can allow water to enter the basement, especially if poor drainage has caused hydrostatic pressure to build up. Therefore, they should be sealed by a professional.
You should also monitor cracks that appear to be non-structural to make sure they’re not growing. If they start to get bigger, they’re probably structural.
Is A Horizontal Crack In A Basement Wall Serious?
Yes, a horizontal crack in a basement wall is serious because it’s almost certainly a structural crack and a sign your home’s structural integrity has already been compromised. You need to contact an experienced foundation repair contractor right away and ask for an inspection.
What Causes Horizontal Cracks In Basement Walls?
Structural horizontal cracks in a basement wall can be caused by various things, including the following:
Hydrostatic pressure – Excess moisture in the ground around the foundation can cause hydrostatic pressure to build up and push against the foundation. Hydrostatic pressure is strong enough to cause a basement wall to bow inward and even crack.
Expansive soil – Expansive soil contains a high amount of clay, and because of this, it expands as it soaks up moisture. If it pushes against a basement wall, it could eventually cause the wall to crack.
Freeze-thaw cycle – Soil expands when it freezes. If it pushes hard enough against a basement wall, it could cause it to crack.
Something heavy parked next to the house – Even something heavy parked next to the house (large truck or dumpster) can create enough lateral pressure to cause a crack in a basement wall.
Non-structural horizontal cracks in a basement wall are mainly caused by shrinkage during the concrete curing process.
How Are Horizontal Foundation Cracks Repaired?
Horizontal cracks in a basement wall are usually repaired in one of the following ways:
Carbon fiber straps – Carbon fiber is an extremely strong material used to build commercial aircraft. They’re often used on horizontal cracks in basement walls to stop inward bowing.
Wall plate anchors – A plate attached to the inside of the basement wall connects to a buried anchor outside the wall. This pulls the bowing wall outward.
I-Beams – I-beams also stop inward movement of a basement wall and don’t require excavation.
Preventing Horizontal Foundation Cracks
Many homeowners are surprised to learn that most foundation problems are caused by excess moisture in the ground around the foundation. Therefore, the best way to help prevent trouble is to make sure the soil around the foundation isn’t soggy. Here are some ways to do that:
Regrade your yard, if necessary – The yard around your home should slope away from the foundation to prevent groundwater from draining toward the foundation.
Consider relocating water-hungry vegetation – If you have water-hungry flowers and shrubs planted next to your house, consider relocating them farther away from the foundation.
Use downspout extensions – Downspout extensions are inexpensive and easy to install. They will carry runoff away from the foundation before releasing it.
Clean your gutters regularly – If your gutters are clogged with dead leaves and other debris, water could spill over the side of your home and soak the ground around the foundation.
Drain tile – When it comes to foundation waterproofing, a drain tile system is a gold standard. Drain tile systems don’t merely put up a barrier to keep water out. They actually prevent it from building up in the ground in the first place.