Photograph of a bowed concrete block foundation wall, probably from frost cracking. Drop a plumb line to measure total inwards bulging of this block foundation wall.Foundation Crack FAQs
Foundation Crack Definitions, Questions, Answers

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Questions & answers about all types of foundation cracks, movement, damage in buildings:

FAQs help explain how to interpret or diagnose different sorts of cracks that may appear in the masonry foundationa of a building: crack types and causes in brick, stone, concrete foundations, walls, footings, floor slabs.

This article series provides a guide to identifying & evaluating different types of concrete or masonry foundation, wall or floor cracks in buildings: this article series describes how to recognize and diagnose various types of foundation failure or damage, such as foundation cracks, masonry foundation crack patterns, and moving, leaning, bulging, or bowing building foundation walls.

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QUA on How to Evaluate Building Foundation Cracks & Movement & Foundation Crack Patterns

Photograph of a substantial settlement crack in poured concrete.Foundation cracks, which are signs of foundation damage, can mean very different things depending on the material from which a foundation is made, the location, size, and shape of the foundation crack, and other site observations.

The size, shape, pattern, location of foundation cracks on a building, along with correlation with other site and construction conditions helps distinguish among probable causes.

These questions & answers about types of foundation cracks & damage were posted originally at FOUNDATION CRACK DICTIONARY

On 2017-05-17 by (mod) re: evaluate the seriousness of cracks in a new home floor slab


When a slab crack extends into the footings and walls then it is by definition a structural crack (where a slab-only crack might be "non-structural" if the slab doesn't include integral footings as part of the slab).

A crack that's enough to separate finish flooring is not trivial.

But before doing anything by way of repair we really need to know
- the extent of damage that's been caused
- the cause of the cracking
- and thus what additional cracking or movement we might expect (minor initial settlement may be trivial while poor site prep or building over garbage might be quite serious)

I have no idea what "puddy the situation" means - do let me know what the heck that is

You'll want to see


to be better armed to understand what you see and what you're told.

I'd be careful not to allow a band-aid repair to close the possibility of future repair work under warranty should that be needed.

Keep me posted.

On 2017-05-17 by Brian

Closed on a newly constructed home in 2015 that is built on a concert slab. Several months ago noticed that floorboards (wood floor) are separating and lifting in 2 areas. Looked outside our home, and there are visible cracks in the foundation that align with the separating floor boards inside our home.

Floor company came to inspect and told us foundation was cracked and needed to be repaired. Suggested removing floorboards, pouring concert, and putting down new wood boards. Builder came to inspect, told us this is common, that their trade warranty people speak out of turn, and wants to "puddy" the separation.

We requested that the builder have an engineer come out to inspect, they said no. Where do we go from here, our home does have a structural warranty, but builder said they would need to be able to put their hand inside a crack for it to be of concern structurally. As a side note, there have been several homes in our neighborhood that have had the same issue, and have had to be repaired. Your help and direction would be greatly appreciated!

On 2017-05-15 by (mod) re: how serious are two vertical hairline cracks in the wall


At the More Reading links at the end of FOUNDATION CRACK DICTIONARY


should to be helpful preparation, but perhaps best is for you to get an on-site expert opinion from an experienced Foundation contractor or structural or civil engineer.

On 2017-05-15 by Richard

I added a new 2-car garage next to my old house. Above the garage is a new bedroom. The project started in July 2016 and finished in April 2017.

A week ago, I noticed two vertical hair-line cracks on the garage concrete footing wall. The cracks are 6 foot apart on the same wall. They cracked across the wall, so they are visible inside and outside the garage. I read that vertical hair-line crack is less of a concern. But I'm worried that there are two cracks only 6 foot apart. Is this common? Should I be worried? Thanks for your advice.

On 2017-04-28 by (mod) re: how bad are the cracks on walls of my building


this sounds serious but it's not something that I can understand and evaluate - you need an onsite expert, perhaps a civil engineer or a structural engineer.

IF you see buckling bulging masonry walls in any building that area is dangerous - risking collapse - keep people away.

On 2017-04-28 by ghassem Takmil

I have 2 story bulding with a lot in front of it, there are two walls on both side of the bulding with the lot in between there are two vertical cerackes on both sides on walls at the border of bulding where the lot starts. I do not know if the sattlement rate of the bulding is higher or lower than the lot area. but I know that the foundation of the lot area on both side walls at the vertical cerckes have not been joined inittially to the bulding foundation.

These cerackes have also has happened on several buldings belonging to the neibors with the simmilar situation on the same block who have adjusent walls to my lot and bulding exactly on the same place.

All of these buldings have been constructed in series by one person do not know how to repair . The soil in that area is very water sensative and it sattles very fast by even moderate amount of water used for washing the lot .pls advise

On 2017-01-25 by Andrew

Have a 40 year old house and recently I have noticed cracks in the ceiling following what I presume to be the edges of the plaster board, however tile in the bathroom has cracked with a corosponding crack in the mason art under it. Have a ceiling crack that wraps down onto the wall and travels through the plaster to the top of a window inside.

Cracks internally where walls meet and horizontal cracks that run rom top of window cut out to corners of the room about two blocks down from the ceiling. I put a straight edge over the horizontal crack and so far there seems to have been about 3mm of movement. Bath room is on opposite side of the house from these horizontal cracks. Wall construction is 4" blocks with void in the middle that has recently been drilled and pumped with foam ball insulation. Can't see any evidence of any new cracks on outside wall in the general area of these internal wall cracks. How worried should I be?

On 2016-12-31 by (mod) re: why are blocks on the ground in front of our foundation wall?

Sounds like an odd foundation repair job. Inspect the interior of the foundation with care.

On 2016-12-31 by NH

I'm considering buying an old house built in 1936. Home has a lot of character. However, I noticed there is is a row of foundation blocks in front of the original foundation throughout the house. This row of concrete blocks seem to have been there a long time because they appear to be acting like the original foundation. Why is that? Was this a way to repair the foundation?

On 2016-10-24 by Anonymous

I'm not sure who's tolerance your contractor is considering other than your own for their advice. I wanted your tackle diameter crack in a brick wall occurring over year sounds serious to me. I suggest that you need a separate neutral party expert on site to tell you the cause of the crash and its impact on the structure. Significant repair costs may be involved.

On 2016-10-23 by R. Barney

I have a vertical crack in the exterior brick wall that goes from top to bottom of the wall. A few years ago we had the foundation worked on in the front of the house and the crack was pretty much closed up. It has now opened up again and is about an inch wide. The foundation company came out and said the foundation is still within tolerance. We had a leak test done and nothing is leaking under the house. We also had a tree removed that was next to the house and just to the right of the crack. What else can we do to repair the crack and should we have a structural engineer look at it?

On 2016-10-04 by Lynn Silver

How long does it usually take for a home to develop foundation problems. If a house is at least 13 years old and there appear to be no foundation cracks or sliding, is it safe to assume that the foundation is stong and secure?

On 2016-09-13 by (mod) re: warranty on foundation work

Warranties are more marketing tools than protection for you. YOu need an onsite expert to determine the size, impact on structure, rate of change, and most important cause of the cracks you see. Shrinkage cracks in a slab or in a concrete wall aren't structurally important but settlement or movement may be important.

On 2016-09-13 by Chris Miller

Can someone please shed light on this for me. We are about to sign on a new house(new build) in a couple of days. In the basement(full underground basement) middle exposed wall. Has cracks that weren't there not even 2 weeks ago. They are offering a structural warranty. But shouldn't this be fixed by them and me not filing a claim later. The neighborhood we are in has had radon issues.

On 2016-08-04 by (mod) re: what to do about missing footings and water entry

Thanks Dan, I'm really happy when you find our information useful;

Footing defects are discussed at FOUNDATION MISSING INCOMPLETE
and you'll also want to see

I don't like leaving dirt exposed, especially when it gets wet: it pumps moisture up through the building where it can cause surprising trouble even in the attic or roof space.

I would start by addressing roof runoff, gutters, leaders, site slope outdoors before doing anything expensive inside;

More detailed procedures for drying out the space start at BASEMENT LEAKS, INSPECT FOR -

Indeed if water is flowing under the slab it'd be no surprise that it might find its way out where the slab stops and dirt starts.

If the above procedures don't stop the problem you might need, in rainy Seattle, to install a sump system or battery-backup sump to lower the water level under the slab;

IN any case I'd first look for a reason that the slab was not completed, then provided that answer lets me do so, I'd either continue the slab over the dirt or at the very least install 6 mil poly to stop pumping moisture into the home.

Why was the slab left incomplete?
With nobody to ask you might look at the location of pipes, site slope, drainage, and guess at what might have been the objective: such as a plan to add an interior trench and drain or sump system.

On 2016-08-04 by DanS

Your site is fantastic. I want to go through and read everything. Thank you!

My questions is specific to foundation footings. I did not see a section on it and had been reading about foundation cracks for reasons I'm sure you can figure out. Our circa 1930 Cellar had a concrete slab poured at the footings. The concrete slab does not join with one side of the foundation wall, an exterior wall, and slopes to the earth, or base of the footing along that side and around one corner. There is slightly damp dirt in the small open space. About once a year in heavy rain (Seattle) the cellar will flood about 4 inches and drain off in a matter of 12 hours.

Is there a reason, ie. Hydrostatic pressure, the floor slab and the footings do not meet/seal? Can you think of a reason this section would have an opening and access for water?

On 2016-06-04 by (mod)

I don't think that can be done by an e-text; you'll need an experienced inspector on-site. But if you search for WATER ENTRY you'll find a series of diagnostic and repair articles that might give you some ideas of where to look first.

On 2016-06-04 by Anonymous

But how to find the problem area,, nothing is visible, and source of entrence of the water,, it's like mystery for us,, is any special equipment or specialist can deal this matter,, pl suggest

On 2016-06-03 by (mod) re: pavers slope towards building

If the pavers direct water towards the foundation wall that's asking for trouble; the paved surface should slope away.

On 2016-06-03 by Lee

Our house built 10 years ago, so far everything is ok, but recently 6 months ago we did the paving around house with concrete( pavers did the job)., than recently 2 weeks ago we noticed our baseboard and drywall getting wet and peeling off, no leaks in the house, no bathroom or kitchen near by that area, but there is a window, but no cracks or leaks on that window also,

our doubt is ... Is there anything wrong happened while doing the paving job like foundation croak are something else. We don't have any knowledge about this,, pl someone help us to find the problem

On 2016-05-25 by psmith32

I have a lot of cracks in my basement, some of which have been repaired with injection epoxy but most have not. It has been recommended by more than 1 contractor that the foundation should be repaired from the outside.

My question is, if the foundation is repaired from the exterior will the current cracks continue to widen and/new ones appear?

On 2016-03-21 by (mod) re: builder says the wall cracks are normal


I do not know what's in your builder's mind, but indeed some cracks are normal, such as concrete shrinkage, and many are harmless. I SPECULATE that your builer meant watch for

- leaning, bulging bowing
- horizontal displacement in the foundation wall - one section moves past another - the surface on the two ides of the crack are not flush with one another.

in my OPINION these are not the only possible faults that could be important. For example, a crack into which you could stick a pencil is large and almost certainly significant even if there is no horizontal displacement

Technically, a foundation engineer might say that *any* crack in a masonry structure is a "failure" of a sort.

On 2016-03-21 by MDC

My new build has cracks on each wall as well as base of foundation. Builder response is 'normal, but watch for displacement.' What does displacement mean here?

On 2015-11-04 by (mod) re: where to inspect to diagnose a sinking wall


Inspect outside and below the wall such as in the basement or crawl area: first to determine where the movement is occurring and second to see its extent. For example, severe rot and insect damage could explain the movement you describe as could foundation settlement.

On 2015-11-04 by Arlinda

Kitchen wall sinking due to water which we found leaking in from the drain. The wall has a large crack , the door and ceiling have on that side have come away from the wall.

On 2015-10-01 by Gord

I have an attached garage that has cracked from the foundation up both walls and across entire slab, clay base soil, how can I repair and prevent more movement of clay base? Also I live in a cold climate area

On 2015-07-29 by (mod) re: how serious are hairline cracks

An engineer will consider *any* crack a *failure* - but hairline cracks in un-bowed walls do not typically threaten imminent collapse.

Get the water and thus frost away from the wall outside. Check gutters and surface runoff. Then seal and monitor the crack.

On 2015-07-28 by Bob

in addition there is no other visual evidence going on of any damages

My foundation is block and just noticed a horizontal crack 1/8 inch just below the frost line. The wall is perfectly straight and i put a 6 foot level on it and there are no bows within the wall. is this structural or just a crack which is cosmetic and what is the remedy to fix?

On 2015-07-27 by (mod) re: do the cement walls have to extend to the footings?

Interesting question, Sister,

The idea that we might bind a column to an existing poured concrete wall that itself would distribute the column's load across a large area is an interesting one. (If that's what you are saying).

but we are missing too much information to give a sure answer to what should be addressed by your architect or engineer. We don't know: the loads involved on the present structure, the purpose of nor loads on the new column (pillar) you are adding, whether or not there is steel re-bar or mesh reinforcement in the existing concrete slab, the conditions of soils below the slab or site drainage that may affect such soils, nor what your local building department will approve.

While low-load columns are sometimes permitted to bear on a 6-inch reinforced steel slab, given how little we know about your situation, a "safe" answer would be to cut open the slab in an area large enough to excavate and install a footing suitable for the soils in your area.

On 2015-07-27 by Sister cement walls need to go down o the footings?

I have a fairly wide crack, larger than 1/4"(happened about 40 years ago when house was being built) right outside my exterior cement poured foundation wall. The crack starts at about 4 feet from the ground and travels slightly diagonal but verical right to the bottom of the first brick. My question is i want to build an interior 1 foot by 1 foot by 7 foot tall sister cement pillar (this pillar being right behind the crack) reinforced with rebar. I will then drill holes from the outside where the crack is to then pin the cracked part into this new cement pillar which is subsequently pinned to an adjacent cement wall that is not cracked and then fill whole crack with epoxy to solidify. This pillar is basically being poured in the corner of a garage. Does the pillar need to go down to the footing or can it just rest on the garage slab which is about 5 to 6 inches thick?


PS Does not look like there has been any additional movement since the crack formed

On 2015-04-13 by (mod) re: where can one purchase Polyurethene polymer injection material?


see POLYURETHANE FOAM INJECTION where we discuss polyurethane foam injection, products, methods, sources

On 2015-04-10 by Anonymous

where can one purchase Polyurethene polymer injection material?

Question: cracks caused by power washing the structure?

4/7/14 Becky said:

My question is this: Are hairline cracks (with water staining) that are in line with the mortar in a cinder block wall in a basement considered evidence of "STRUCTURAL COMPROMISE"?

Here's why I ask:

1. From 2002 when my husband bought the house to Feb 2014, we had NO water in the basement (80 yr old house w/ French drain and sump pump).

2. In early Feb 2014, our tenant informed us of a small amount of water coming in through these hairline cracks and sent the picture. He cleaned it up and the water never returned.

3. When we were preparing the house for sale, I had two contractors look at the the water-stained cracks, along with several other items to be addressed -- both said the cracks (now bone-dry, in a bone-dry basement) were "not a big deal" and could be readily addressed with caulking, priming, painting (actually only one mentioned caulking) -- which I've learned is regarded as routine maintenance.

4. The same day the contractor came to work in the basement, I had another service person cleaning windows -- his assistant was power-washing the exterior of the house.

Although I had asked them to avoid that side of the house where the cracks were until we were sure what was going on (the one contractor was concerned about the window above the cracks, turned out not to be a problem),

(A) the seal was not secure between the faucet and hose to the power-washer (spraying water in all directions),

(B) the faucet was about 1.5' from the window/wall in question, and

(C) the power-washer seemed to be going at it full-force 6 hours+ -- a 1100 sq foot house.

(I've since learned this should have taken about 1.5 hours, also that it's not the best idea to do it when the ground is frozen -- we live in Maryland, where we've been hit with a lot of very cold weather, snow, etc.) I called a waterproofing company (with GREAT reviews, A+ BBB rating) who said immediate cause of the damage was the sudden, rapid influx of HUGE amount of water. They also updated our drainage system. Never mentioned structural compromise in that wall.


"Structural compromise" is an undefined term.

A structural engineer will typically aver that masonry structures are not supposed to crack, and that any crack is a "failure". But an experienced foundation engineer, mason, or someone with similar expertise will usually make a distinction between cracks and movement that are an urgent threat to the structure, those that need monitoring, and those that need prompt repair to prevent a catastrophe.

And no such prescription would ge complete without understanding the cause.

It is possible that water under, against, and around a foundation combined with freezing would cause cracks; but just "cracks" is far too vague to reach such a conclusion. The size, shape, location, pattern, and site history and other factors need to be understood before one can ascribe a cause to a masonry crack.


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