Photograph of the author pointing to leak points in a concrete foundation wall. How to Inspect, Diagnose, & Repair Concrete Foundation Cracks
Cold Pour Joints, Movement, Settlement, Leaks

  • CONCRETE FOUNDATION, WALL, SLAB DEFECTS - CONTENTS: How to diagnose, evaluate, & fix concrete foundation cracks, leaks, or damage.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to identify cold pour joints in building foundations, how to distinguish a cold pour joint or leak from other types of concrete foundation cracks and leaks, how to assess their impact or importance, and what to do about leaky cold pour joints.

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Concrete foundation crack types:

Cold pour joints, shrinkage cracks, holes, structural cracks: detection, diagnosis, repairs.

Page top photo shows the author inspecting a foundation in a New York home in 1985.

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Examples of structural & other failures in Poured Concrete Foundations: Cold Pour Joints, Cracks, Leaks, Movement, & Other Defects

Photograph of contraditory diagonal "cracks" in a poured concrete foundation wall (C) InspectAPedia & C.C.

This article explains how to identify and diagnose poured concrete foundation walls, movement, settlement, leaks, & other defects involving reinforced or un-reinforced concrete foundations and concrete walls, such as damage due to shrinkage, impact, settlement, frost or water damage, and other causes.

Here you will find Types of Poured Concrete Foundation Defects listed, described & explained, How to identify and evaluate cold pour joints, shrinkage cracks, holes, settlement cracks in foundations; How to identify and diagnose Poured Concrete Foundation Wall & Slab Cracks, Movement, Settlement, Foundation Leaks, & Leans, Bulges, & Other Foundation Defects.

Photographs of cold pour joints in foundations and related leaks or damage patterns and types & Visual clues of cold pour joints give a history of construction sequence, timing, even concrete delivery location points; Concrete cold pour joints in a hand-mixed hand-poured concrete wall.

Article series contents

How to Identify Cold Pour Joints in Concrete Foundation Walls

Cold Pour Joints in concrete foundations which leave visible lines in the concrete foundation wall (photo above) are not usually a structural problem but may in some cases form a dry joint which permits water leakage through the foundation wall.

Cold pour joints occur because of the time delay between subsequent "pours" into the foundation forms.

An astute inspector, by noting the position, pattern, and slope of the cold pour joint, can probably determine the position from which the concrete was poured into the forms (the high end of the sloping lines) and the extent of delay between pours (evidence of water leaks through the joints indicates that enough time passed for the lower pour to solidify).

Water leaks into buildings at cold pour foundation joints are discussed at Basement Foundation Leak Points - Leaks at Cold Pour Joints.

And nearly all cold pour joints will appear as diagonals such as those shown in three of the four photos below.

Details about cold pour joints in concrete are found at CONCRETE COLD POUR JOINTS.

Photograph of contraditory diagonal "cracks" in a poured concrete foundation wall (C) InspectAPedia & C.C.

How to Identify Concrete Shrinkage Cracks in Concrete Foundation Walls

Photograph of shrinkage cracks in poured concrete (C) Daniel Friedman

Concrete shrinkage cracks are not usually a structural problem but may permit water leaks through the foundation wall.

Shrinkage cracks are often mistaken by owners and inspectors who, failing to observe the characteristic discontinuous path of the crack and its meandering path, mistake shrinkage cracks for structural damage.

We discuss shrinkage cracks in great detail and provide diagnostic photographs of shrinkage and other types of concrete cracking in poured concrete floors and slabs at SHRINKAGE CRACKS in SLABS.

We provide further diagnostic guidance for concrete cracking at SHRINKAGE vs EXPANSION vs SETTLEMENT.

The repair of shrinkage cracks (if repair is even needed) is discussed at FOUNDATION REPAIR METHODS for shrinkage cracks .

How to Identify Recognize and Repair Holes and Penetrations in Concrete Foundation Walls

Photograph of holes in poured concrete (C) Daniel Friedman

Holes and penetrations in concrete foundations such as poorly-sealed openings left for piping for water or electrical lines or where form ties were broken off may form points of water entry into the structure but are not normally a structural concern.

The "patched" holes shown in this photograph had been a source of chronic leakage and basement water entry since this home had been constructed about two years before this photograph was taken.

While several unsuccessful attempts had been made to seal and patch this leak point in the concrete foundation wall, none of the repairs had tried using a suitable product sold for that purpose and the wall was still leaking.

Of course the root problem was that surface water was not being directed away from the building outside.

These holes were high enough on the foundation wall that it would be reasonable (and perhaps preferable) to seal the wall from outside before also re-grading to drain surface water away from the building.

How to Identify Settlement Cracks in Concrete Foundation Walls

Photograph of settlement cracks in a concrete foundation wall (C) Daniel Friedman

Concrete foundation settlement cracking such as from footing settlement, absence of or poorly prepared footings, water leading to settlement or actual loss of soils, thus undermining the footings (this can occur and can damage most foundation types), or movement of the foundation due to nearby blasting or excavation work.

Shrinkage cracks in concrete occur only during curing and will appear mostly in the first 28 days after a wall or floor is poured. If cracks noted and documented after this time continue to increase in length or width, some other cause is at work and further investigation is needed.

The concrete settlement crack shown here appeared initially in this wall as a hairline fracture of less than 1/16" in width.

The homeowner monitored the crack and watched it increase in width to nearly 1/2" over the following 12 months, leading to the correct inference that there was structural movement going on.

In this case we traced the movement to uneven footing settlement which was aggravated by the combination of having placed the footing partly on bedrock, water from roof and surface spillage and runoff causing soil settlement (the contractor had not compacted the backfill under the footings), and by ongoing foundation blasting at a neighboring lot.


How to Identify Form Tie Marks and Leak Points in Concrete Foundation Walls

Photograph of water entry leaks at concrete form ties

Concrete Foundation Form Tie leaks: Leaks at the location of concrete form ties used during construction of a poured concrete foundation are not normally a structural problem but they can be blamed for basement water entry.

Form tie leaks occur in a poured concrete foundation wall where the form ties used to construct the foundation have left penetrations in the concrete walls.

Form ties are wire or steel connections between the two vertical sides of the wood or steel concrete form.

Concrete form ties are needed to prevent the forms from separating and bulging from the weight of the concrete poured into the form.

Iron suffide pyrrhotite cracks in a Connecticut Founation  (C) CCAB & Inspectapedia.comThe best solution to concrete wall form tie leaks is to keep water away from the foundation from outside.

Other Types of Foundation Damage to Concrete Foundations, Slabs, Walls or Floors


Continue reading at CONCRETE SLAB CRACK EVALUATION which discusses in detail the process of evaluating cracks, settlement, leaks, shrinkage, or other damage in poured concrete slabs, monolithic slab foundations, and concrete floors, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Or see FOUNDATION CRACK DICTIONARY discusses evaluating foundation damage by examining concrete crack size, shape, pattern, and location.


Or see these

Concrete Crack Diagnosis & Repair Articles

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