Level of concern for cracking and spalling

Structural issues is an area I’m definitely in need of further education and training.

On a minor, major, or material level, how concerned would you be with the cracking and other signs of water intrusion issues in this crawl space?

The grounds have definite grading and water management issues in the form of negative grading near some of the worst efflorescence in the foundation and there are places that definitely need gutters.

Most of my training on foundations says that horizontal cracks are more likely to be structural than vertical but struggling to know what level of warning to assign to these, especially with the prior patching.

Jesse, From what I can see in the first photo, the horizontal patch was probably an area with what is called “popcorn” that was filled with grout. “Popcorn” is an area where the concrete did not get consolidated properly within the forms and it left holes in the surface. Typically it’s not much of an issue unless it is in a cold joint. In picture #1, if you look to the right of the patch, there is a distinct line that travels from the patch to the right. This is typically what happens when the concrete is poured at slightly different times and from different trucks. There is a possibility that it reached "cold joint’ status but after seeing the water marks in the other pictures, I would guess it is OK.
As far as the rest of it… yep it’s messed up and needs attention…


Your efflorescence is from water wicking up from that dirt floor. That vapor barrier is in need of attention.
The patching you see is from rats nest in the concrete AKA honeycombs caused by lack of vibrating when poured. Where the water intrusion is from the honeycomb in the wall is because it goes all the way through the wall and not water-sealed or waterproofed on the outside and coming straight in.
That insulation is upside down also.
Interior and exterior drainage control would be a good recommendation to repair at this point.


Sure looks like the soil is high alkaline to wick up that much efflorescence. That too can be bad for the concrete if the wrong mix was used…

Also with that much moisture in the basement, the insulation is most likely damp, and potential floor joist damage from moisture.


Well the vapor retarder on the insulation might have help prevent that a little, but sure would not hurt to inspect.


There is a crack in the inside corner that seems to indicate a slight form of settlement. You don’t typically see shrinkage cracks in the corners, but always possible this foundation was poured with weak or low PSI concrete.
If anything, that is a bad looking job for a foundation. Lack of consolidation by vibration seems to have been unacceptable when poured. That is why all the patching to conceal all that honeycombing.

And what were those pipes I see near the outside corner?

Wonder why they had a 240 v receptacle down there.

I do not see a structural concern. The pour line that has been cosmetically patched and the moisture migration through it is more ugly than defective. The corner crack is typical of differential shrinkage at the two wall planes. Efflorescence on the bottom of the wall is again typical. You’ve already called out the negative drainage on the outside. A possible concern regarding drainage and water is if the soil under the vapor barrier is excessively wet. Dampness is common under a vapor barrier, but muddy goop or soup, is bad. Sometimes improving surface drainage is not sufficient.

Mark A has good reference for those repairs :wink:.

I guess we will have to disagree on that statement. It is not typical for a wall to shrink in the inside corner. Here is the top of the wall.

And here is the bottom where it disappears.

Well it is a crawlspace so… I would point out the grading issue. Even structural engineers like to argue between themselves on cracks. Many times they do their calculations and say the crack will stop at so an so point. Meanwhile you’re paying him or her 80 bucks an hour

Yep, we disagree.
That’s ok.

Additional things to look for are any bowing that accompanies cracks and depth of cracks, as in are they surface cracks, through-wall cracks or through-wall cracks with displacement (surface on one side of the crack not flush with the surface on the other side).