Basement Wall Crack Repair

What is basement wall crack repair?

When a house is built, a builder pours a footing (base) upon which he builds a foundation, which is a wall that raises the house off the ground for plumbing and ventilation. These foundations started out as a crawl space about 2 feet tall.  Eventually people began to consider creating useful space below the house.  They came up with a space they called a Michigan basement, which was about 4 or 5 feet tall. A regular 7-foot basement popped up in the 1940s, and by the 1950s, basements changed from cinder blocks to concrete. Right from the beginning, though in some cases, the pressure of the water in the soil which pressed against the blocks, stones, or cement created problems, and there were foundation or basement wall crack repair involved.

When did the actual walls start being made?

As the basement walls started getting taller, there started to be cracks running up to the top from the bottom, just to due to the fact that the wall had so many more pounds of pressure to keep back. The taller the wall, the more often basement wall crack repair was necessary. Today, walls are still getting taller–we’ve seen a lot of them now in the 8-foot range, and several of them in 9- and 10-foot range. When builders changed over from cinder blocks to poured concrete, the art of constructing foundation walls changed to the point where habitation in the basement was possible. Poured concrete walls do not leak water like a cinder block wall. (You can find out what that is all about in other sections of this web page.) Nevertheless, poured concrete walls are subject to vertical cracks all the way around. Since concrete walls don’t leak until they get a crack in them, basement wall crack repair was born.

How do these basement wall cracks happened?

In order to crack something as thick and that strong as a concrete wall, there has to be a lot of weight and pressure. Imagine the pressure of soil against a concrete wall 8-feet tall and 30-feet long. Then add the weight of water that is in that soil. That creates unbelievable pressure. With heavy rainfall, the pressure multiplies.  Concrete itself shrinks as it dries.  Shrinkage and pressure can result in cracks. Shrinkage shows up usually at the corner windows, the corner of beam pockets, and the inside corners of the basement. If it is a long wall, it might just randomly pick one or two spots to crack, after a lot of shrinkage and pressure make it impossible not to. Another  way to get a crack, especially in a long wall, is to have dirt pushed up against your basement for an exterior patio. If the house is built on a sinking type of soil, or the backfill was too soft, these things will cause a shearing affect that also adds thousand of pounds of pressure.

How do we do a basement wall crack repair?

First, I can tell you not how to do a basement wall crack. Most amateurs like to use hydraulic cement. Rubbing on hydraulic cement doesn’t work any better than rubbing anything else over the surface. That includes paint, caulking, silicone or that rubber stuff that they advertise on television. Water comes in these cracks under great pressure from the outside. They call this hydrostatic pressure. This forces water over the surface mounted material like paint or hydraulic cement. Professionals like us believe it’s better to fill the crack up from front to back, top to bottom, with something that sticks in the crack, and takes the place of the concrete. All the surface-mounted products do not do that. Back in the 50s, they started using a special type of epoxy liquid. This worked fine until the crack got worse, which can happen. In the last several years however, we have switched over to a foam that expands as it dries, and fills the crack. The foam actually acts as glue, and glues the two pieces of concrete together, making it extra sticky and extra strong. This way basement wall crack repair can last for a good long time. We know this works well because we get almost no callbacks. The only time we have a problem with this is when an amateur tried a basement wall crack repair with one of those surface mounted products, and we cannot reliably inject the foam into the crack without missing certain amount of voids. It takes quite a while to learn how to do basement wall crack repair well.  We do it well.