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Home » Basement Waterproofing » How to Fix Horizontal Foundation Cracks: Everything You Need to Know

How to Fix Horizontal Foundation Cracks: Everything You Need to Know


Over time, it’s common for a home’s foundation to develop cracks. However, not all cracks are created equally. For instance, vertical cracks usually aren’t a sign of structural problems with your foundation. On the other hand, horizontal foundation cracks are always serious. Whether you find a horizontal crack in a block foundation, a slab foundation, or any other type, your home’s structural integrity is at risk. Horizontal foundation crack repair requires special equipment and professional knowledge, so it’s imperative to reach out to an expert when you detect horizontal cracks in your foundation.

This guide will cover the essential strategies to effectively identify, assess, and address horizontal foundation cracks. By taking these steps, you can keep your home safe, secure, and structurally sound for years to come.


Are Horizontal Foundation Cracks Always Bad?

Foundation cracks are always a problem since they can cause water damage or let pests into your home. However, most foundation cracks are vertical and occur normally during the process of curing the concrete. In most cases, this has no impact on the structural integrity of your home. On the other hand, horizontal cracks in block or brick foundations generally stem from environmental factors that push your foundation walls inward. Left unchecked, the foundation can bow and warp inward. This will shift your foundation and eventually compromise the integrity of your home.

Over time, the floors will become uneven, doors and windows won’t close properly, and walls can begin to crack. If the crack continues to go untreated, the problem will get progressively worse until the home becomes structurally unsound and unsafe to live in. You should always hire an expert to repair horizontal cracks in basement walls as soon as possible. You should also be mindful of the common causes of foundation cracks to prevent future issues.


What Causes Horizontal Cracks in Foundation Walls?

The formation of horizontal foundation cracks results from sustained high pressure over extended periods. They can develop gradually over months or even years and signal significant underlying issues. Fortunately, these problems are often treatable. Key contributors include:

Hydrostatic Pressure

Hydrostatic pressure refers to the force water can exert on your foundation when it pools and settles against it. This issue may arise from clogged or improperly installed gutters, soil not facilitating proper water runoff, and other contributing factors. A horizontal foundation crack stemming from hydrostatic pressure will typically occur halfway between the top and bottom of the foundation wall.

Differential Settlement

If your house finished construction in the last two years and has developed horizontal cracks in the foundation, differential settlement is a likely culprit. All homes have to settle into the soil, a process that usually occurs within two weather cycles. Differential settlement is when the house doesn’t settle evenly, which can put severe pressure on the foundation and create horizontal cracks and bowing. Challenging soil conditions, faulty construction, and unusually extreme weather conditions can all contribute to differential settlement.

Expansive Soil

To some extent, expansive soil goes hand in hand with hydrostatic pressure. If the soil surrounding your home is rich in clay, it will hold more water. This causes a cycle of expansion when the soil becomes wet and shrinks as it dries, which can put pressure on your foundation and contribute to problems like differential settlement.

Freeze/Thaw Cycles

While your home’s foundation should be built with local freeze/thaw cycles in mind, poor construction or unusually severe winters can cause horizontal foundation cracks. If water in the soil freezes, it will expand and pressure your foundation. While poor drainage does not cause seasonal cracks, a higher water content in the soil will worsen the problem.

The telltale sign of foundation cracks in the freeze-thaw cycle is that they emerge after a harsh winter and occur toward the top of the foundation, above the frost line. However, freezing water isn’t the only cause of cracks near the top of the foundation.

Parking a Heavy Vehicle Next to the Foundation

Anything that places an unusually high load on the ground by your home can cause horizontal foundation cracks. In this case, the most likely cause is a heavy vehicle that you’ve parked near the foundation. A large SUV or truck you regularly park within several feet of your home can single-handedly exert enough pressure to cause foundation cracks over time. While this isn’t the most likely scenario, a poorly placed vehicle can work with environmental causes to increase the ground pressure beyond what your foundation can handle.


How to Prevent Horizontal Foundation Cracks From Forming

You can take a handful of steps to prevent horizontal cracks from forming in your foundation in the first place. Groundwater management techniques are the most important, as keeping water away from your foundation will reduce the threat of hydrostatic pressure, freeze/thaw cycles, and expansive soil. Use these tips to protect your home’s structural integrity:

  • Move thirsty plants further from your home – Lines of shrubs and flowers around your home can be beautiful, but they can also be problematic if they need regular watering. Change the layout of your garden so that you’re not watering the area immediately next to your foundation.
  • Check the grade of your yard – Your yard should gently slope away from your foundation to carry water away. If the grade of your yard has shifted, it could begin moving water toward your foundation instead. Check your home’s grade and regrade if necessary.
  • Clean your gutters regularly – Water overflowing from clogged gutters can collect around your foundation. Make sure to keep your gutters clear so your drainage system can work how it should.
  • Park heavy vehicles away from your foundation — If you own a truck or other heavy vehicle, try to park it several yards away from your home.
  • Schedule regular preventative maintenance – The best way to prevent your home from developing structural problems is to schedule routine inspections and maintenance. Have an expert inspect your home and its foundation once a year, and you’ll be able to prevent foundation issues instead of having to wonder how to fix horizontal cracks in walls.


What to Do If You Spot Horizontal Foundation Cracks

The easiest way to find horizontal cracks and other forms of foundation deterioration is a routine visual inspection. However, several warning signs indicate you’re at risk for horizontal foundation cracks or already have them. If you’ve noticed water leaking into your basement and associated issues like mold growth, you should look for cracks in your foundation.

Should the cracks in your foundation advance to a critical stage, you might observe significant structural issues within your home. Such deterioration can lead to your home settling and shifting well beyond the expected two-year post-construction period, leading to malfunctioning doors and windows. Once the damage reaches this level of severity, immediate repair becomes imperative to prevent further compromise to your home’s safety and integrity.


How To Fix Horizontal Cracks in Foundation Walls

If you’re wondering how to fix horizontal cracks in concrete block walls and other foundations, there are three options. Depending on your situation, a professional will repair your horizontal foundation cracks using:

  • 16”x16” buttress – Installing a 16”x16” buttress provides significant structural support to counteract the forces pushing against the foundation wall. This method involves constructing a reinforced concrete or masonry support at strategic points along the wall, effectively redistributing the pressure, and stabilizing the area to prevent further cracking or bowing.
  • Carbon fiber straps – The strength of carbon fiber makes it ideal for bracing the walls and adding extra support. This can counter the pressure against your foundation and prevent the problem from worsening.
  • I-beams – Constructing I-beams inside the wall is another way to brace and support your foundation. Like carbon fiber straps, these prevent cracks from worsening and don’t require excavation, unlike the installation of wall plate anchors.


Expert Foundation Repair from Basement Waterproofing Solutions

If you detect horizontal foundation cracks, it’s crucial to acknowledge the potential risk to your home’s structural integrity. At Basement Waterproofing Solutions, our commitment lies in fortifying your foundation against environmental challenges. Turn to us for your foundation crack repair needs. We’re here to address the cracks, tackle the root causes, and ensure your home stands strong. Contact us today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation!

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