Diagnosing Foundation Wall Cracks

Thursday, November 14th, 2019 by Amanda Waldmann

As we begin the pre-winter wild temperature fluctuations, you may notice new cracks in your foundation walls, or that existing cracks seem a little more prevalent. Any wall crack is something that warrants bringing in a professional, but it’s true that there are some that are less dangerous than others. Let’s talk about common wall cracks and what they mean.




Good news - if you have a vertical crack in your wall, you are the least likely to have major wall problems. When homes are built, there’s a natural settling process. This initial settling can cause hairline vertical cracks in a poured foundation wall. These generally aren’t a cause for concern. However, if you have new cracks appearing in a house that's now brand new, it can be an indication of a new problem.



Diagnosing Wall Cracks - Image 1

A horizontal crack is, unfortunately, an early sign of wall failure. Now, this isn’t fear mongering - I’m not saying your wall is going to collapse tomorrow. But a horizontal crack, in a block or poured wall, appears due to inward pressure on the foundation walls. This can happen because of frost heave (soil expansion based on freezing and thawing as winter turns to spring) or even encroaching tree roots. But it does need to be looked at. Wall crack repairs and wall stabilization are easier, and less expensive, the earlier they’re caught.


Stair Step

Diagnosing Wall Cracks - Image 2

A stair step crack occurs in a block wall and is the next evolution from a horizontal crack. These cracks follow the mortar lines in a block wall as pressure on the wall increases. These cracks are dangerous because a wide swath of the wall is affected; in general, the more of the wall that is unstable, the more likely it is to collapse.




Wall cracks are scary, whether they’re emergently dangerous or not. But even if a crack seems small, or doesn’t seem to be growing, it can be a problem - we've gotten many calls from people with wall cracks who wake up one day to see their basement wall full collapsed. Wall cracks don’t resolve on their own, and problems only get worse; early intervention means less money, less time, and less worry. Call today to schedule your free inspection.


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Our Locations:

Ayers Basement Systems
2505 S. Waverly Hwy
Lansing, MI 48911
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