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Cracked foundation repair

 

Cracked foundation repair is a subject of great interest among homeowners because foundation cracks are often viewed as a serious defect despite being a very common occurrence in homes with poured concrete foundations.

Because of the potential seriousness associated with foundation cracks it is generally advised that foundation cracks be repaired whether they are leaking or not. Since many homeowners are concerned with how to repair foundation cracks I've written this blog post to provide relevant and related information such as why foundations crack, as well as the various available methods for properly fixing a cracked foundation.

 

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Why foundations crack

The most common foundation cracks are caused by the shrinkage of concrete during the curing process. Since concrete is composed of water, cement and gravel it shrinks as it cures and dries. While drying, hardened concrete shrinks approximately 1/16 of an inch over a distance of 10 linear feet.

Concrete curing is affected by temperature; if its curing is interrupted by a significant temperature drop, for example overnight, the cured concrete will be affected because it contracts as it cools. On the other hand, when a foundation is poured in intense heat and sun, it can dry too quickly and crack because of thermal expansion.

Basement cracks are also created by the settlement of the soil beneath foundation walls. This can occur when your home’s footings aren’t wide enough or are damaged. Also, if the soil around your home is saturated with water, or if we haven’t had precipitation for quite a while, new problems may develop with the foundation. When the crack width exceeds 1/8 inch it is generally considered to be a “structural” crack.

 

Example of structural foundation crack
Wide cracks are considered to be "structural" cracks

 

When the soil is saturated the groundwater rises and exerts pressure against your basement walls (hydrostatic pressure); the associated soil pressure can cause basement wall cracks and the hydrostatic pressure causes basement leaks. During extended dry periods, the soil around your foundation shrinks as the water evaporates; this can cause your foundation to settle and often results in the development of one or more new basement wall cracks.

Horizontal cracking, usually observed on the upper part of the wall is usually caused by frost damage, and the freeze-thaw cycle. In most cases, water from your downspouts saturates the soil, as the soil freezes it exerts considerable pressure on the basement wall. In some instances horizontal cracking is caused by heavy equipment travelling too close to the foundation wall during backfilling.

How foundation cracks are repaired

In order to repair the types of foundation cracks described above, we employ one of the following three methods. These methods for foundation crack repair are: Epoxy crack injection, Polyurethane crack injection and finally, exterior crack repair.

Epoxy crack injection refers to the method of injecting a two-part glue into the crack from the surface of the crack. The epoxy is injected under pressure directly into the crack through injection ports that are installed at roughly one foot intervals from the bottom to the top of the crack. The material is injected sequentially from the bottom to the top until the crack is full and then begins to cure inside the crack forming a rigid material; essentially gluing the two walls together.

Polyurethane is the other chemical we use when injecting foundation cracks. Typically used in actively leaking cracks or cracks that have been repaired before; polyurethane is a resin that is injected into the crack from ports that are drilled beside the crack intersecting it halfway through the wall. The injection pressure for polyurethane is much higher than that of epoxy and the fact that polyurethane reacts with water makes it the method of choice when dealing with actively leaking or previously repaired foundation cracks.

Alternatively, there is the option of repairing the foundation crack externally. External crack repair is the traditional method of foundation crack repair. This method entails excavation down to the footing, cleaning the wall to expose the crack and applying a rubberized patch to the crack to cover it. While external crack repair is effective at preventing basement leaks it does have limitations, such as: it does not fill-in the crack, it is destructive to landscaping, its high cost relative to other repair methods, it is weather dependent and also takes several weeks to coordinate and have underground utilities located.

What it costs to repair a cracked foundation

The cost to repair a cracked foundation depends on the method of repair. General pricing is as follows:

Foundation crack injection (Epoxy or Polyurethane) price ranges from $350-$575 depending on the company.

When stabilization of a crack is required (ie. Crack is deemed structural and requires reinforcement), carbon fiber reinforcement staples are applied at a cost of $50 each. Most cracks of average length require 3 staples.

The cost of exterior crack repair typically starts at around $1200 per crack but could increase depending on ease of accessibility.

 

 

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Tags: foundation crack repaircracked foundationbasement crack repaircracked foundation repair

Basement foundation wall crack repair

 

Why cracks develop in basement walls

Like death and taxes in life there are also certainties with concrete; one, it will harden and two, it will crack. Fortunately basement wall crack repairs are generally quick and inexpensive.

The most common foundation cracks are caused by concrete shrinkage. Since concrete is composed of water, cement and gravel it shrinks as it cures and dries. While drying, hardened concrete shrinks approximately 1/16 of an inch over a distance of 10 linear feet.

Concrete curing is affected by temperature; if its curing is interrupted by a significant temperature drop, for example an overnight cold snap, the cured concrete will be affected because it contracts as it cools. Conversely, when a foundation is poured in intense heat and sun, it can dry too quickly and crack due to thermal expansion.

Basement cracks also develop due to the settlement of the soil beneath your foundation walls. This can occur when your home’s footings aren’t wide enough or are damaged. Also, if the soil around your home is saturated with water, or if we haven’t had precipitation for quite a while, new problems may develop with the foundation. When the crack width exceeds 1/8 inch it is generally considered to be a “structural” crack.

When the soil is saturated the groundwater rises and exerts pressure against your basement walls (hydrostatic pressure); the associated soil pressure can cause basement wall cracks and the hydrostatic pressure causes basement leaks. During extended dry periods, the soil around your foundation shrinks as the water evaporates; this can cause your foundation to settle and often results in the development of one or more new basement wall cracks.

Horizontal cracking, usually observed on the upper part of the wall is usually caused by frost damage, and the freeze-thaw cycle. In most cases, water from your downspouts saturates the soil, as the soil freezes it exerts considerable pressure on the basement wall. In some instances horizontal cracking is caused by heavy equipment travelling too close to the foundation wall during backfilling.

Typical shrinkage crack Wide structural foundation crack
 A typical crack caused by concrete shrinkage  Wide structural foundation wall crack

Should you worry about a basement wall crack?

 

Maybe.

As we discussed above, there are several different types of cracks in basement walls. Depending on crack width and orientation (vertical, horizontal, diagonal), it may or may not be something to be concerned about.

Basement wall cracks can be unsightly when they leak; however, many homeowners feel that if a crack develops in their foundation it is due to poor quality or workmanship. While this could be true, with respect to basement walls, if a crack is not structural, is not too wide (what is acceptable depends on who you ask but any crack <1/8 inch), and is not leaking water, it should be considered to be normal and therefore acceptable – unless you are concerned about a basement leak in the future.

information on the cost of basement wall crack repairs.

Concrete shrinkage cracks are seldom a problem because there are no associated structural concerns. However, these basement wall cracks commonly leak and they often allow insects to get into your home; it just makes sense to deal with them.

There are times when you should be concerned about a basement wall crack, such as a horizontal crack. A horizontal crack indicates that the foundation wall’s structural integrity has been undermined and requires professional attention (and usually reinforcement).

Diagonal cracks are typically the result of foundation settlement and should be assessed by an experienced professional as footing support may be required.

Cracks originating from the corner of windows and other openings are usually the result of stress build-up at the window corner and probably account for 40% of the cracks that we repair; in general, these cracks should not cause undue concern.

At the end of the day, all cracks mean something and it is important to take action where warranted. Here a couple of images of cracks that you should be concerned about:

diagonal basement wall cracks very wide foundation crack
Crisscrossing cracks are a sign of foundation failure Cracks wider than 6mm are a structural concern

 

 

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How basement wall cracks are repaired

Based on what we have discussed so far, some basement wall crack repairs are simple while some are more complicated. In general, cracks in poured concrete foundations are repaired quickly and inexpensively - typically using a crack repair process referred to as "crack injection". 99.9% of leaking poured concrete basement walls are repaired using this process; of course another option is to excavate the foundation at the crack location and apply a waterproof barrier over the crack. (see exterior crack repair)

Cinder block foundations crack as well; however, the repair of cracks in block walls is handled completely differently. For more information check out our introduction to concrete block foundation waterproofing.

 

 

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Foundation crack repair - What doesn't work

 

Some foundation cracks allow water to leak into your basement while others do not. Still, most homeowners hate having cracks in their foundation, and/or a leaky basement; both of these situations will often motivate homeowners to fix a crack in their foundation.

In this article we'll explain how not to repair a foundation crack and why.

Common fears about foundation crack repairs

Today, many people know how quickly and inexpensive it is to have a foundation crack professionally repaired - by crack injection. Unfortunately, many people (both homeowners and contractors) still believe that a foundation has to be excavated in order to repair a basement crack properly.

Because excavation is costly and destructive, many homeowners dread the thought of having to deal with a waterproofing contractor to have a foundation crack repaired. For this reason it is common for homeowners to undertake foundation crack repairs on their own, or to hire general contractors or handymen to either save money or avoid digging around their foundation. In most cases these savings end up costing homeowners more money in the long run.

A common unprofessional foundation crack repair

The most common way by which cracks are fixed unprofessionally is by applying a concrete patch over the crack, as shown in the image below.

 

Patched foundation crack with mineral staining
 The crack was patched over to stop it from leaking

Repairing a foundation crack in this way is relatively simple and very cheap, making it a very attractive way to fix a crack in the foundation or to stop a basement leak. Unfortunately, this type of patch repair is actually bad for a foundation and doesn't last. Let's have a look at the picture below:

Foundation crack with patch repair
 The patch over the crack has also cracked

The patch that was supposed to repair the crack or conceal it has cracked as well, rendering the repair useless. In the picture below you can see that the crack is leaking through the patch repair; the white staining is mineral that came through the foundation along with ground water.

 

Patched foundation crack still leaking
 Mineral stains are visible because the crack has leaked

The reason why this type of foundation crack repair is bad for a foundation is because the patch will cause ground water to be trapped within the crack. Since poured concrete is porous, the concrete will absorb the trapped water. When the concrete is saturated, the concrete begins to deteriorate as it begins to return to its original sandy state. Therefore, the foundation gets weaker and there is no way to reverse this type of deterioration.

The Top 5 Reasons to avoid this type of foundation crack repair

  1. Money spent fixing the crack by patching over it is usually wasted; in the end, you end up spending more money because you need to pay yet more money to have it properly repaired;
  2. By trapping water behind the patch within the foundation crack, the foundation weakens and cracks can widen as the trapped water freezes within it;
  3. If you finish your basement or close up the wall after repairing the crack in this way you may well end up having to open up the wall once again to repair it properly;
  4. If the patched crack leaks you may end up with mold, ruined drywall, warped laminate flooring, water damaged furniture, etc; and
  5. You simply cannot be confident that the repair will hold.

The good news is that foundation cracks can be repaired for a few hundred dollars, not thousands, by having them professionally injected.

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Image of question mark

 

 

Wondering just how expensive it is to have a crack professionally filled? Click on this hyperlink to find out how much it costs for a crack injection.

How to fill foundation cracks

 

First of all, you should know that foundation cracks are absolutely normal. Virtually every home has them; and having a foundation crack does not necessarily mean that your home has structural issues or is poorly constructed. However harmless, foundation cracks should be professionally repaired to protect you against potential basement leaks and concrete foundation deterioration.

Foundation crack
 Typical foundation crack to be injected

 

How do you fill cracks in a foundation?

The professional foundation crack repair methods involve the pressurized injection of epoxy and polyurethane resins to fill cracks from the inside to the outside. Given the specialization associated with filling foundation cracks, homeowners do not have access to the required tools or materials to perform pressurized professional foundation crack repairs.

Exclamation markIt is important to note that only cracks in poured concrete foundation cracks can be filled. Cracks in concrete block foundations have to be repaired using other methods, simply because cinder block foundations are hollow and thus cannot be filled with resins, unlike poured concrete foundations. 

The professional methods used to fill foundation cracks

The process of filling foundation cracks professionally is referred to as crack injection. Crack injection involves the pressurization of epoxy and polyurethane resins to fill cracks in basement walls through their entire thickness. By using this method, the entire crack is filled; in the end, it is as if there was never a crack in the first place.

Not only can injection fill a crack and also waterproof a foundation, but using epoxy resins can also provide a structural repair as well, if applicable.

Foundation crack injection requires specialized equipment, materials and techniques in order to be successful and long lasting; which is why filling cracks is best left to professionals. This is not meant to discredit the do-it-yourself kits sold at some stores as they can be quite effective under very specific conditions.

It is important to note that no two foundation cracks are the same and conditions at the time of repair are seldom ideal. Because of this, do-it-yourself foundation crack filling repairs could become an exercise in frustration as do-it-yourself crack injection kits are designed for textbook cases which are certainly not the norm. In such instances it just makes sense to call in a professional with the right tools, materials and skill. 

 

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A foundation crack repair method you should avoid

A common foundation crack repair that we encounter is a patch of hydraulic cement applied over the crack surface; in some instances the crack has been V-ed out to allow the crack to be filled.

Why filling a crack with hydraulic cement is a bad idea

Applying hydraulic cement (whether covering the crack surface or forcing  it into the crack) simply provides a temporary obstruction to water penetration of your foundation. It does not fill the crack throughout the entire thickness of the wall, as foundations are typically 20cm thick; thus allowing water to enter the unfilled part of the crack. Water that sits within a crack will saturate the concrete and lead to premature foundation deterioration.  Saturated concrete often results in seepage of moisture/water as well as staining, and a weakening of some of the concrete where the crack is located.

Another negative of this crack repair method is that hydraulic cement does not have a strong chemical bond with the foundation; when you have movement in the foundation due to changes in temperature, or soil movement, the hydraulic cement patch usually disbonds from the foundation wall, rendering the repair useless.

Also, in cold weather, when water penetrates the exterior side of the partially obstructed crack, the water can freeze. This freezing causes the volume of the water to increase 9% which could result in expansion of the crack and ongoing basement leaks.

 

To summarize: there is only one universally accepted method of filling a foundation crack - crack injection. While the do-it-yourself kits and hydraulic cement repair methods are inexpensive and tempting, and may stop water from leaking into your basement, they are seldom the best solution. Call a professional and have it done right the first time.

Image of question mark

 

 

Wondering just how expensive it is to have a crack professionally filled? Click on this hyperlink to find out how much it costs for a crack injection.

Interior basement perimeter drain systems - A low cost alternative

 

Interior Waterproofing

AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing® specializes in the installation of interior perimeter drainage systems which completely resolve foundation leaks and water infiltration into your basement.

Almost all basement leaks can be repaired from either inside a basement, or from the outside by excavating and waterproofing the foundation walls. While you generally have the choice of either approach, there are times when the installation of an internal perimeter drain system is either the most logical or the most appropriate choice.

 

When an Interior Waterproofing System is The Best Choice

  1. External excavation and waterproofing cannot be accomplished due to limited accessibility for equipment and soil placement;
  2. External excavation is undesirable because patios, decks, landscaping, etc., would have to be destroyed in order to permit excavation of the foundation;
  3. When it is suspected that water in the basement originates, not from leaking foundation walls exclusively but, from a rising water table beneath the basement floor slab;
  4. For financial reasons because internal waterproofing systems typically cost ½ of what it costs to externally excavate and waterproof a foundation; and
  5. When mouldy finished basement walls need to be removed and disposed of and basement waterproofing is required.

 

How an Interior Perimeter Drain System is Installed

The installation of an internal waterproofing system is accomplished as follows:

  1. If the basement wall requiring waterproofing is finished, the finished wall is completely removed and disposed of;
  2. The basement floor slab is opened to expose the footing;
  3. Specialized drain pipe is installed in order to capture and channel the water that is leaking into the basement;
  4. The cinder blocks (or concrete blocks) are setup to drain;
  5. A membrane is installed on the wall to grade or higher;
  6. A sump pump with a perforated sump liner is installed if a sump pump is not available;
  7. The floor slab is returned to its original condition; and
  8. The job site is cleaned up.

 

Illustration of an Installed Interior Perimeter Drainage System - With a Sump Pump

The following illustration is representative of a typical internal waterproofing system installation.

 Interior Perimeter Drainage System

 

Question mark

 

 

Want to learn more about interior perimeter drain systems? Click on the following hyperlink: Detailed steps on how an interior perimeter drainage system is installed.

 

 

 

Note: We do not recommend the installation of internal waterproofing systems to fix leaks from poured concrete foundations.

 

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Selling a home with a wet, leaky basement

 

Planning on buying a home in need of basement leak repairs or selling a home with a wet or leaky basement? Then this must read article is for you.

Buying or selling a home with a leaky basement has legal implications

This blog was inspired by an article published in the Business section of the Toronto Star on June 10th, 2013 by Mark Weisleder a Toronto real estate lawyer, on the subject of repair clauses in home sale deals.

In the article, Mr. Weisleder discusses the importance of properly wording repair clauses in an Agreement of Purchase and Sale. Such repair clauses are very relevant in the context of selling a home with a leaky basement as almost every real estate deal contains a clause that the sale is conditional on the buyer being satisfied with the results of a home inspection; evidence of basement leaks is commonly discovered or suspected during these inspections. In many cases, home inspectors check behind the walls of a finished basement for signs of high levels of humidity by using a moisture meter.

How you handle a wet basement during a home sale can be complicated

We've published this article because many buyers and sellers have difficulty dealing with wet basements encountered during real estate transactions. In many instances the cause and magnitude of the problem are not known or understood by either party.

The discovery of basement leaks or excessive basement dampness generates alot of business for us so we are very familiar with many of the issues that arise when it comes to the handling of basement leaks during home sales. Most of these issues come to light:

  1. When a seller decides to rectify the problem prior to listing their home;
  2. When home inspectors report foundation cracks, signs of water damage, or high humidity; and
  3. When purchasers move into their new home and find a puddle on the basement floor not long after they have moved in.

 

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Being able to handle the issues having to do with known basement leaks is important mainly because fixing a wet basement can be quite costly proposition. While it is true that the majority of basement leak repairs for poured concrete foundations often cost less than $1000, extensive excavation and waterproofing could well cost tens of $1000s.

The cost of waterproofing a home is arguably one of the most expensive repairs that a purchaser or seller will ever have to face. Given the amount of money involved, the wise handling of leaky basement repair obligations during a real estate transaction is of crucial importance.

What happens when a house with a wet basement is being sold

The good news is that, in many cases, homeowners who are aware that they have a wet or leaking basement will often have the repairs carried out prior to listing their home for sale. However, some homeowners are unwilling to spend money on waterproofing their basement since they would be doing so primarily for the benefit of prospective purchasers, and therefore leave their basement "as is", introducing risk for both parties. All too often, sellers have concealed foundation cracks and leaks by painting the basement walls or placing household items against the walls so that an inspector is unable to carry out a thorough visual inspection.

When a seller carries out basement leak repairs prior to listing their home for sale, the basement inspection is usually satisfactory and there is typically a transferable written warranty available for the purchasers. This is a sound argument for carrying out the basement repairs prior to listing a home.

When a home inspector reports a foundation crack or other related problem, the deal takes on additional complexity because buyers typically will demand that the repairs be carried out by the vendor prior to closing, making the sale conditional on the repair(s) being carried out. In our experience, most conditions in real estate deals, such as financing and satisfactory home inspections, must be waived within 5 days. Depending on the type of basement waterproofing work that has to be carried out, it may not be possible to complete the work in such a short timeframe. It is at times like this that properly worded repair clauses are of crucial importance. In practice, these repair clauses are usually drafted by the real estate agents involved in the transaction and not a lawyer.

You may want to consult a lawyer

Repairing a few hairline cracks in a foundation is not costly; therefore, incurring legal expenses to draft a repair clause in an Agreement of Purchase and Sale probably doesn't make sense. When the waterproofing of the wet basement is expected to be costly, it probably makes sense to get your lawyer involved in writing a repair clause. As Mr. Weisleder points out in his article, if the repair clause in a home sale contract is not properly worded you might end up in court. Here is a summary of Mr. Weisleder’s recommendations:

  1. When it comes to repair obligations, his recommendation is for the seller to get an estimate and give the buyer a credit for the cost of waterproofing repairs on closing;
  2. It is a mistake to think that money can be held back on closing if repairs are not completed as promised. In most cases, the purchaser is obligated to close the deal and sue for the cost of repairs later; and
  3. To be able to hold back money, a clause must be inserted into the Agreement of Purchase and Sale specifically stating that money will be held back until both parties, acting reasonably, determine that the repairs have been completed adequately.

Food for thought

Regrettably, very little in life is black or white so there is no simple checklist to follow when dealing with wet basement waterproofing repair obligations.

While it may seem simple to provide a repair credit to a purchaser on closing, the amount of the credit can easily be a contentious issue because a vendor will obtain the lowest possible quote for leaky basement repairs while the purchaser would typically demand the most professional repairs which never cost the least amount of money. If both parties agree that the seller is to repair the problem prior to closing, there is the potential for a dispute concerning the quality of work actually performed; so it is probably beneficial to specify the name of the waterproofing company that is to carry out any repairs.

Time has proven that some purchasers will not put an offer on a property that they know has a wet basement problem; even a very minor one. Sellers can avoid such situations by carrying out any needed repairs prior to listing their property.

 

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How to fix a leaking cinder block foundation wall

 

Water seepage from concrete block foundations is a common occurrence and a problem that tends to worsen over time. In this post I will cover the reasons why block foundations leak and the how this leaking can be stopped.

Leaking cinder block foundation wall
Cinder block foundation wall leaking at the bottom and through mortar joints

 

Why block foundations are prone to leaking

Concrete block (sometimes referred to as cinderblock) foundation leakage is quite common for two main reasons:

  1. The blocks are hollow, permitting water to pool within the walls (the source of the water that is seeping); and
  2. Cracking of the mortar joints between the blocks is inevitable given our normal climatic conditions such as: high levels of precipitation and the frequency and extent of daily and seasonal temperature changes.

Unfortunately, problems with seeping concrete block foundation walls don’t go away on their own.

How leaking cinder block basement walls are fixed

There are two waterproofing industry recognized repair methods to address leakage; one is done from inside and the other from outside:

  1. Traditional excavation and waterproofing of the foundation; and
  2. The installation of an interior perimeter drainage system.

 

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How the two approaches differ

While the two approaches used to fix leaking block walls work well and will keep your basement dry, the repair methods have important differences.

Waterproofing foundation walls by excavating them and applying a waterproof coating, and replacing the weeping tile is arguably the best, yet the most destructive, dangerous and expensive way to keep water out of your basement. On the other hand, the internal perimeter drain system is an interior water management approach that allows water trapped in the walls to drain beneath the basement floor into a drain pipe system; the water is then pumped outside using a sump pump. Typically, an interior system is 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of an exterior system because there is no expensive excavation involved.

Related articles to check out:

Introduction to block foundation waterproofing
You have cracks in your block foundation - should you be worried?

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Foundation crack repair cost

 

What it costs to have a foundation crack repaired is a common question among homeowners. In this post we provide typical pricing for repairing cracks in both poured concrete and cinder block foundations.

crack in poured concrete foundation
Typical poured concrete foundation crack

 

What poured concrete foundation crack repairs cost

Quoting the price to repair a typical crack in a poured concrete foundation is a simple matter - in general, crack injections done from inside the home cost between $350 and $525, depending on the company. If the crack must be repaired on the outside the cost to waterproof the crack is generally $900 - $1500, depending on the company and other factors such as space available to dig, etc. 

 

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When poured concrete foundation crack repairs are more complicated

Most foundation cracks in poured concrete are 1/8" wide or less; because such cracks are not usually structurally significant, they can be repaired via the simplest method - crack injection. Wider cracks may also be injectable but may require stabilization, especially if there is reason to believe that crack might widen slightly at some point in the future. The cost to stabilize a crack while it is being repaired is generally $150 - $200, in addition to the crack repair cost.

Click for more information on crack stabilization.

When there are concerns about the structural integrity of a foundation (significant settlement, cracks 1/4" wide or more, etc.) the cost to repair a foundation crack and the underlying cause of foundation movement is usually upwards of $2000. This relatively high cost is due to the fact that it may be necessary to support the foundation from beneath the base of the wall. This type of repair is referred to as a structural foundation repair.

Wide crack in poured concrete foundation abnormal foundation cracking
 A wide, structural foundation crack  Abnormal crack pattern

 

Concrete block foundation crack repairs

Fixing cracks in concrete block, or cinder block, foundation walls is completely different from a technical and cost perspective than for poured concrete foundations. It is beyond the scope of this post to get into the technical issues associated with block foundation crack repairs; however, minor cracks usually don't require anything more than simple waterproofing.

Waterproofing a cinder block foundation will typically cost $1500 and up. The cost of this type of repair is dictated by how much waterproofing is required as well as associated technical factors.

Cracked block foundation Reinforced cracked block foundation 
 Badly cracked block foundation wall falling apart  Block wall crack repaired and wall reinforced

Expect to pay about $1750 for this type of block foundation crack repair.

 

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How to fix a basement leak from the inside

 

The traditional way to fix basement leaks involves digging up around the foundation or some part of it; however, that approach to fixing basement leaks is widely considered excessive and has some notable drawbacks:

  1. Digging soil may not be an option because of the presence of patios, walkways, decks and other landscape related restrictions;
  2. Excavation requires cooperative weather (both temperature and precipitation), which is totally outside of anybody’s control;
  3. Digging and waterproofing is labour intensive and therefore expensive; and
  4. Excavation always results in landscape damage.

Fortunately, regardless of the type of foundation that you have, it is possible to fix just about any basement leak from inside a home.

Factors that determine how a basement leak gets fixed from inside

There are several repair options available to stop basement leaks from inside. These options are dictated by a few factors:

  1. The type of foundation upon which your home is built (poured concrete, cinder block, brick and stone);
  2. How the water gets into the basement (foundation crack, seeping block walls, etc); and
  3. How easy it is to access the repair area inside the home.

Fixing poured concrete foundation leaks from inside

Typical leaking foundation crack
 Many leaky basements are caused by foundation cracks

Leaks in poured concrete foundations, the most common type of foundation constructed since the late 1970s, are normally repaired from inside using pressurized crack injection because it is inexpensive and completed within a couple of hours, at any time of the year.

Check out this link for more information on injection waterproofing.

 

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What should not be done to repair basement leaks internally

In waterproofing, as with any technical solution, there is no such thing as a “perfect” solution; nevertheless, some basement leak repairs are professional and some are not. Here are a few internal leak repair solutions that we commonly see and do not recommend:

  1. The patching over of the crack surface with a material such as hydraulic cement is not an effective way to fix basement leaks because a patch repair approach causes ground water to be trapped within the wall. Trapping water within the foundation wall will saturate the concrete and cause it to weaken over time. These repairs fail most of the time;
  2. Another approach to dealing with leaks in poured concrete foundations is the installation of an internal perimeter drainage system. While this basement leak repair method will keep your basement dry, I don’t recommend it because it is far more expensive than injection repairs and promotes concrete saturation, as do the surface repairs mentioned in the point above; and
  3. One heavily promoted approach involves sealing the crack surface and creating a dry well under the basement floor. While this approach seems sound, a significant drawback is that the water from the crack adds to the height of the water table under the basement floor, which increases the likelihood that water will enter your basement from beneath your basement floor.

Check out this link to learn about high water tables and basement leaks.

Fixing cinder block foundation leaks from inside

Wet block wall with paint peeling
 A wet block wall causes paint to peel and the concrete to weaken

When it comes to waterproofing a block foundation from the inside there is only one professional method: installing a perimeter drainage system. In a nutshell, the system manages and evacuates the water that penetrates the block foundation walls.

This type of system can be installed at any time during the year without limitation.

Click out this hyperlink for greater detail about the internal perimeter drainage system.

Block foundation waterproofing repairs that are a bad idea

Block foundations are very different from poured concrete foundations because block foundations are largely hollow; therefore, applying coatings onto interior block foundation walls will effectively trap potentially significant amounts of water within the walls. Again, this is undesirable because the trapped water will cause a rapid deterioration of the blocks.

Similar repairs, such as building up concrete against the base of the foundation walls which are leaking, will also trap water in the walls.

Basement wall crack and leak repair – the essentials

 

So, you’ve noticed a crack or a leak in your basement and naturally you’re concerned. Whether it is leaking or not, you are likely considering what your options are to have the problem permanently fixed. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place; in this post I’ve outlined for you the available options for repairing a basement wall crack or leak.

It starts with the foundation type –

The type of foundation you have is of critical importance as it determines the type of leak repair you will require. To identify the type, look at an unfinished part of the foundation (usually a cold cellar, furnace room, exterior wall, etc.). We need to identify whether you have a poured concrete, cinder/concrete block, stone or brick foundation. If you don’t have access to any exposed part of your foundation, you can usually get a good idea by the year the house was built. Houses built before 1950 usually feature stone or double brick foundations; houses built between 1950 and 1978 are typically block while more recently constructed homes are likely to be poured concrete.

 

 

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What are the options for repairing a basement wall? –

Regardless of foundation type, basement cracks and leaks can be fixed from the inside or the outside of the home. However, the actual methods of basement crack and leak repair will vary by foundation type.

Stone/brick/cinder block foundation wall repair:

These foundations can be repaired by excavating and waterproofing externally or internally via an internal perimeter drainage system. While both repair methods can be fairly costly, the external method is the more expensive of the two and is much more destructive while offering a very similar end-result as the internal perimeter drainage system.

Poured concrete foundation repair:

With a poured concrete foundation the options are simple: we can repair internally via injection or externally by the traditional method of excavating and waterproofing. While both have their merits, external excavation is always far more expensive, destructive and typically “overkill” for issues in poured concrete foundations. On the other hand, foundation crack injection is significantly less invasive, more cost effective and can be done year-round within just a few hours.

 

 

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