Is horizontal crack in concrete basement wall cause for concern?

We recently purchased a home with a horizontal crack in the interior foundation basement wall, the crack is on the wall that is next to our garage and is a little over a foot from the ceiling down. I have read that the crack could
Be caused by the weight of the cars, the weather (we have very cold winters and very hot summers) or foundation settlement. There is no bowing or caving on the wall, it is very straight. It is about 8 ft long. Its right at 1/8inch at its widest in the middle and tapers off to hairline cracks on each end. I was under the impression any crack 1/8in is usually nothing to worry about. The home is over 40 years old and does have a slight slope in the kitchen (about 1/4 inch) and a sag in the kitchen but other than that there are no cracks in tile (not 1 crack in any tile of the house on any floor. Not even hairline), no cracks in drywall, doors and windows operate correctly. I am trying not to worry about it but I am so anxious not knowing. The inspector when we bought it brought it to our attention but said it was not a concern at all to him and didn’t even mention it in the report so I thought nothing of it until I went down there the other day and it threw me off.

. Please give me your professional opinions on if I am worrying about nothing. Thank you!

That’s a lotta CD’s

You got that right.

Is that crack above grade on the outside and do you have a picture of the exterior of the foundation and house elevation?

You cannot see the crack from the exterior wall because it is just below where the concrete for our garage driveway lays. It is probably 5 inches below ground level on the top 1/3 of the wall. I don’t know what house elevation is and the foundation on the exterior that is showing looks great. No cracks just a couple chips off of it in 2 places. I can get a picture tomorrow. I have had a couple people look at it and say it is nothing, I’ve just read that horizontal cracks are ALWAYS bad. I am realizing now that most of the sites that say that are all foundation repair companies though :slight_smile:

Wow that is a lot of cd’s.

Is it an issue, or not. Well, maybe yes, maybe no. I see a lot of these in block walls and read several engineering reports on those, and in five to ten pages they usually boil down to, “maybe”. Your inspector IMO should have at least mentioned it, but that’s what it is. You said it was on the garage side, attached garage? If yes, it could have happened when the pad was prepped and poured. The fact that it’s not bowed or displaced is a good thing. I recommend patching the crack with a non-elastic type of patch (mortar/cement) and monitor over time. If the patch cracks you know it’s still moving. If it is there are repairs for that. Horizontal cracks in a poured wall are less common and that wall should have an entire network of reinforced steal in it. So the likely answer is you should be ok. Of course stackin LL Cool J next to Loverboy is not helping it, the apocalypse could be upon us.

This looks better…

Really need a photo of the exterior, but based on only one photo I am concerned and i would report it no matter what the exterior shows.

I agree, a picture of the whole exterior wall and also a picture of the whole wall inside if possible.
How long is the wall and is the crack the full length of it?
The weakest part of the wall is at the level of those form ties as we see.
It is possible that it was hit with equipment when the back-fill was occurring.

Since it is all guess work as to why it happened, gouge out the crack and fill with hydraulic cement to prevent water intrusion. Since it is within 12" of the top of the wall, I don’t see to much of a problem unless there is no reinforcement in the wall to prevent the lower part from pushing in from the fill pressure.

We really need to see the whole picture. So recommending a foundation contractor to look at it might be prudent.

I have seen a few concrete foundations that had similar cracks that had no obvious shoving, such as bowing or the crack is wider on the inside versus the outside. All of the ones I investigated it was rusted reinforcing steel that was supported by the form ties. In 90% of my cases, the form ties were not broken off and sealed allowing water penetrated through to the reinforcing steel. As the rebar rusted and expanded the expansion forces broke the concrete. Unreinforced 3000 psi concrete can only resist about 10% or 300 psi. To verify or rule out this possibility I would chip out the concrete at the crack to see if there was rusted reinforcing steel at the crack location. I have a Zircon MT6 Metal Scanner that will detect reinforcing steel in a concrete wall I use to verify the steel is there before I chip into a wall.

If this is the case, how much am I looking at for repair? And are the cracks you’ve seen usually on the top 1/3 of the wall shared with an attached garage? No water gets to the exterior of this wall. It is completely covered by cement, no open soil. Also what signs are you all saying that you would need to see the exterior? The exterior wall of this crack is under a fireplace so there is only about 1.5 feet from garage floor to fireplace bottom to see but all of that looks pristine. Thanks!

Post more photos if you can, especially what’s on the other side of the basement photo.

What is happening at the crack in the wall? if you take a level (vertical) is the wall being pushed in or is the wall plumb?

The wall is completely plumb and the crack has been there for as long as the original owners can remember (they said). And they were in the home 27 years.

The crack in the Pic looks relatively equal width its entire length. If I read your post correctly this is the wall between the basement and garage, so its not exposed to exterior weather, rain, snow, soil erosion, etc.

It’s main aggravations would be (1) garage floor settlement putting pressure on it; (2) weight of cars / trucks putting pressure on slab, hence to wall; and (3) snow or rain water run-off from vehicles draining toward the wall.

I’d go with Randy Mayo’s post and I’d probably recommend patching the crack and monitoring it over time. If the patch cracks or opens you know it’s still moving. If so there are simple repairs for that, such as steel wall restraints every 5’-6’ that might cost under $1,600 to install several on the wall.

In my opinion the crack is not something I would be concerned about as long as the wall is straight and not bowed. Since you sat there’s concrete on the exterior of the wall, what i think happened is the concrete exerted some pressure on the wall which caused it to crack. This pressure is more than likely caused by thermal movement of the concrete/ground caused by temperature change. Many times concrete installers do not install expansion joint along the concrete or block wall. This expansion joint material acts like a cushion between the wall and the pavement. It also prevents the concrete from binding to the actual wall. Many times this pressure on the wall is aggravated as the backfill around the foundation starts to settle and causes the weight of the pavement to be placed against the foundation/wall. If you look at the area where the concrete meets the wall, there should be a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of expansion material separating the wall from the pavement. Also, if the pavement looks like it’s settled up against the wall, this can also be causing the problem.
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