fixing a crack in the basement wall

Basement Wall Repair: Professional Advice For The Handy Homeowner

Your home is your sanctuary, and maintaining its structural integrity is crucial for your peace of mind. One area that often gets overlooked is the basement, especially during a remodel. Basement walls, if not properly maintained, can develop issues ranging from minor cosmetic concerns to serious structural problems. So, how can you tackle these basement wall issues head-on? By understanding the different types of cracks, water damage, and structural concerns and learning about the various repair techniques, you can keep your basement walls in top shape. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the essentials of basement wall repair and preventive measures to help you protect your home and investment.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding basement wall issues and their causes is essential for preserving a home’s structural integrity.

  • Professional assistance is recommended to address bowing walls, hairline cracks, vertical/diagonal cracks, and horizontal cracks.

  • Researching contractors with proven track records of successful repairs will ensure quality service and protect property during repair process.

Understanding Basement Wall Issues

Basement wall issues can range from minor cosmetic concerns to serious structural problems. Grasping the nature of different types of cracks, water damage, and bowing walls plays a key role in their appropriate repair. Knowing when to fix a crack yourself and when to consult a professional is crucial to maintaining your home’s structural integrity and avoiding costly repairs down the line.

So let’s explore the intricate world of basement walls and learn to identify as well as manage these issues.

Types of Cracks and Their Causes

Different types of cracks can appear in your basement walls for various reasons. Common types of cracks include:

  • Horizontal cracks

  • Stair-step cracks

  • Hairline cracks

  • Vertical cracks

Settling of the foundation, soil pressure, and water damage are some of the primary causes of these cracks. Hairline cracks, for instance, measure approximately the width of a sewing thread and can often be attributed to the settling of the foundation. Cracks typically occur due to these factors.

On the other hand, vertical and horizontal cracks in concrete walls might also result from settling of the foundation, soil pressure, and water damage. Stair-step cracks, which typically appear in a stair-step pattern along the mortar joints of the concrete wall, share similar causes.

Bear in mind that the severity of these foundation cracks can vary and they may point to a deeper issue with the foundation, necessitating an entire crack repair.

Signs of Water Damage

basement wall that needs repair from wall damage

Water damage can wreak havoc on your basement walls if left unaddressed. Some common indications of water damage in basement walls may include:

  • Puddles or standing water

  • A damp atmosphere and musty odors

  • Mold or mildew

  • Cracks or crumbling

  • Efflorescence

  • Flaking or peeling paint

  • Wall discoloration

  • Water stains

  • A musty smell

Identifying these signs of water damage early on can help prevent further deterioration of your basement walls.

To prevent water from coming in contact with the foundation wall, it is recommended to remove any foundation plantings, install guttering and downspouts, and create a slope of 2 percent or more away from the house by adding soil to the yard.

If you notice water seeping through a foundation crack, it is important to seal the crack and divert the water to prevent further damage. In some cases, you may need to install injection ports to repair these types of cracks.

Bowing Walls and Structural Concerns

Bowing walls and structural concerns in your basement can result from various factors, such as soil pressure, water damage, or poor construction. Clay soil, for instance, can swell when it becomes wet, resulting in hydrostatic pressure on the wall that can push it inward and cause structural cracks. If you notice a bulge accompanied by a crack, even if it is slight, it is advisable to seek professional assistance.

The low-pressure crack injection method is a process designed to bond loose concrete together and prevent water infiltration. However, this method should be executed by foundation repair technicians and not attempted as a DIY project. Early detection and intervention are essential in addressing bowing walls and structural concerns before they escalate into more significant issues.

Basement Wall Repair Techniques

Various repair techniques can be used for different types of basement wall cracks, including hairline cracks, vertical and diagonal cracks, and horizontal cracks or bowing walls.

We’ll cover various repair methods for different crack types in this section and assist you in determining the most suitable approach for resolving your basement wall problems.

Repairing Hairline Cracks

Hairline cracks are thin cracks in concrete walls resulting from the slight shrinkage of concrete during the curing process. While these cracks may not seem concerning, addressing them is crucial to prevent additional damage. Masonry paint or a crack filler are both suitable solutions for addressing hairline cracks in concrete walls.

To repair hairline cracks, you’ll need a foundation crack repair kit that includes INSL-X TuffCrete Acrylic Concrete Paint and Sashco Gray Mor-Flexx Grout Repair, as well as a putty knife to smooth out the crack. The estimated cost for the repair is typically between $15 and $25, and the time frame is usually 20 minutes to apply and 1 or 2 days total working time.

Prompt action on hairline cracks can stop them from expanding and inflicting more severe damage to your basement walls.

Addressing Vertical and Diagonal Cracks

Vertical and diagonal cracks, unlike hairline cracks, may require more specialized repair techniques. Epoxy or polyurethane injections may be employed to address vertical and diagonal cracks, depending on the size and moisture level of the crack. LCR epoxy is utilized for concrete crack repair in concrete walls.

Epoxy injections or high-viscosity polyurethane polymer injections are the most effective methods for sealing and stabilizing the cracks in basement walls. If the crack is damp and unable to be dried, it is advised to consult a professional. They may be able to use a polyurethane injection as a form of sealing. This is similar to an epoxy injection.

Fixing Horizontal Cracks and Bowing Walls

Horizontal cracks and bowing walls are more severe issues that may require professional intervention. These types of structural problems are often caused by increased soil pressure and water damage on the basement walls. The intent of structural repairs is to structurally bond the concrete to a condition comparable to its original state and to prevent water infiltration.

The estimated cost range for structural repairs is between $500 and $1,000, and the time frame is usually 1-3 hours to apply the repairs, with several days of total working time.

Professional assistance becomes necessary when dealing with horizontal cracks and bowing walls, as DIY repairs may fall short of addressing the underlying issues, potentially leading to more serious problems in the future.

Preventive Measures for Basement Wall Problems

As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Preventive measures for basement wall problems include proper drainage and waterproofing, soil management and grading, and regular inspections and maintenance.

Implementing these measures can shield your basement walls from severe issues, saving you time, money, and stress in the future.

Proper Drainage and Waterproofing

Ensuring proper drainage and waterproofing can help prevent water damage and related basement wall issues. Proper drainage and waterproofing involve the installation of a waterproof membrane on the walls and floor of the basement, in addition to the installation of a sump pump to remove any accumulated water.

Some common waterproofing methods include:

  • Employing a high-grade dehumidifier

  • Applying waterproofing products

  • Patching cracks

  • Exploring exterior solutions

  • Installing gutters and drainage systems

  • Evaluating full-scale exterior waterproofing

Investing in appropriate drainage and waterproofing can protect your basement walls from the harmful effects of water damage.

Soil Management and Grading

soil grading for preventing basement wall repair

Soil management and grading play a crucial role in reducing soil pressure on basement walls and preventing water from pooling near the foundation. For optimal soil management surrounding basement walls, it is recommended to:

  • Use dense soil for proper grading

  • Slope the soil away from the foundation

  • Install drainage materials and systems

  • Abstain from using sand and mulch.

Curtain drains, downspouts, and gutters are recommended to redirect water away from the foundation. Implementing effective soil management and grading techniques can aid in preventing basement wall issues caused by soil pressure and water accumulation.

Regular Inspections and Maintenance

Regular inspections and maintenance are vital for early detection and repair of basement wall issues. Periodic inspections and upkeep can detect and address minor issues before they become more serious problems. Some recommended procedures for basement wall inspections include:

  • Assessing the foundation walls, support beams, columns, and floor joists for signs of shifting, settling, or damage

  • Looking for any cracks on the foundation walls

  • Checking for evidence of asbestos, lead paint, bulk water penetration, moisture, or pest damage

  • Consulting with a building inspector before beginning any repair work

Conducting regular inspections and maintenance helps maintain the structural integrity of your basement walls and helps you avoid costly future repairs.

When to Consult a Professional

Knowing when to consult a professional for basement wall repair is crucial, especially when dealing with signs of structural damage, persistent water issues, or reaching the limits of DIY repairs.

This section will cover the various situations where professional help is warranted to ensure effective repair and durable results, such as when using a wire brush might not be enough.

Signs of Structural Damage

Signs of structural damage, such as large cracks, bulging walls, or stair-step patterns, warrant professional inspection and repair. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to refrain from trying to resolve these conditions independently, as they may signify a more severe structural issue.

Instead, it is recommended to enlist the services of a structural engineer for an extensive evaluation of your basement walls. Timely intervention and professional expertise can help address the root cause of structural damage and prevent further deterioration of your basement walls.

Persistent Water Issues

Persistent water issues, such as dampness, mold, or efflorescence, may require professional waterproofing solutions. If you notice any of these issues in your basement walls, it is important to address them promptly to prevent further damage.

If the crack is damp and unable to be dried, it would be prudent to consult a professional. They may be able to use a polyurethane injection as a form of sealing. This is similar to an epoxy injection.

Seeking professional help for persistent water issues can secure long-term protection for your basement walls and help you avoid expensive repairs down the line.

DIY Limitations

As a handy homeowner, it’s essential to recognize your limitations when it comes to basement wall repair. While some minor issues can be addressed with DIY repairs, there are situations in which professional intervention is necessary for the safety and structural integrity of your home.

It is advisable for homeowners to seek professional assistance if they observe indications of structural damage, recurrent water problems, or if they feel their DIY capabilities are insufficient. When in doubt, it’s always better to consult a professional to ensure the proper repair of your basement walls and the continued safety of your home.

Choosing the Right Basement Wall Repair Contractor

basement wall repair contractor

Selecting the right basement wall repair contractor is a crucial step in ensuring the successful repair of your basement walls. This section will cover the various factors to consider when selecting a reputable and experienced contractor, such as:

  • Researching and reading reviews

  • Verifying licensing and insurance

  • Considering the contractor’s experience and expertise.

Research and Reviews

Research and read reviews to find a reputable contractor with a proven track record of successful basement wall repairs. Online reviews, personal referrals, and references provided by the contractor are all viable sources of information when searching for the right contractor.

When reviewing the contractor, consider their quality of work, customer service, and overall experience. By taking the time to research and read reviews, you can ensure that you are choosing a highly qualified and reliable basement wall repair contractor to address your home’s needs.

Licensing and Insurance

Ensure the contractor is licensed and insured to protect yourself and your property during the repair process. You can reach out to your state’s licensing board or insurance commission in order to confirm the contractor’s credentials.

Request proof of insurance from the contractor, specifically liability insurance, which covers any potential damages that may occur during the repair process. By verifying the contractor’s licensing and insurance, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home and investment are protected during the basement wall repair process.

Experience and Expertise

Consider the following factors when choosing a contractor for basement wall repair:

  • Experience and expertise in basement wall repair

  • Familiarity with local soil conditions and building codes

  • Ability to assess the type of damage and determine the most suitable repair method

  • Execution of the repair using appropriate materials

Make sure the contractor meets these criteria to ensure a successful and reliable repair.

You may inquire with the contractor for references or seek out reviews online to gain insight into their experience and expertise. By ensuring the contractor has the necessary experience and expertise, you can trust that your basement wall repair will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism.


In conclusion, addressing basement wall issues is an essential aspect of maintaining your home’s structural integrity. By understanding the different types of cracks, water damage, and structural concerns, implementing preventive measures, and knowing when to consult a professional, you can effectively tackle basement wall problems and protect your home and investment.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With the right knowledge, repair techniques, and professional guidance, you can ensure the continued safety and stability of your basement walls, giving you peace of mind and a solid foundation for your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you fix a deteriorating basement wall?

To repair a deteriorating basement wall, scrape away any loose material, apply a concrete bonding agent to the old concrete, and then fill in the cracks with mortar or a masonry/concrete repair mix.

Additionally, waterproofing the walls and soil around the foundation and installing retaining walls can help prevent further damage.

How do I know if my basement wall cracks are serious?

Horizontal cracks wider than a 1/4 inch, as well as any structural foundation cracks, are an indication of a serious issue and should be addressed with epoxy repair material.

Epoxy repair material is a strong and durable solution for foundation cracks. It is designed to fill and seal the crack, preventing further damage and providing a long-term solution. It is also easy to apply and can be done by a homeowner with minimal effort.

How can I prevent water damage in my basement walls?

Maintain proper drainage and waterproofing, manage soil grade and quality, and conduct regular inspections to prevent water damage in your basement walls.

Regular inspections are essential to ensure that your basement walls are not exposed to water damage. Taking the necessary steps to protect your basement walls from water damage can save you time and money in the long run.

What are some DIY repair techniques for minor basement wall cracks?

Minor basement wall cracks can be easily fixed with masonry paint, crack filler, epoxy or polyurethane injection.

What should I look for in a basement wall repair contractor?

When selecting a basement wall repair contractor, be sure to check their reviews, licensing, insurance, experience, expertise and local knowledge.

This will ensure a successful project.