Stair-Step Foundation Crack Types

All You Need to Know About Foundation Crack Types

Let’s discuss everything you need to know about foundation cracks: causes, types, how to repair a crack, and what you can do to prevent cracks in the future.

Causes of a Cracked Foundation

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to the formation of cracks in your foundation. The two most likely culprits are:

Soil Settlement

If your soil is sinking or settling, cracks can form in your home’s foundation. Unstable or shifted soil around the base of your home can cause the unit to lean or become unbalanced. Soil settlement is typically near the perimeter of the foundation since the soil dries the quickest in this area.


The most common reason for cracks in your foundation is your home’s exposure to water. Water is a grave enemy, whether plumbing leaks, poor drainage systems, or ineffective soil grading.

Foundation Crack Types and Common Fixes

Many different types of cracks can develop in your foundation, with varying levels of severity. The kind of crack and its seriousness will determine the options for repair.

Hairline cracks can be found on foundation walls or floors. They are usually only cosmetic and not cause for concern.

Vertical cracks (or within 30 degrees of vertical) and diagonal cracks (between 30 and 75 degrees) are two other common foundation cracks and are most likely a result of foundation settling.

Again, they are not usually a serious issue. If the cracks show no signs of moisture, they can be easily repaired.

Thin, non-structural cracks can be sealed with urethane caulking, like putting on a band-aid.

If there are deeper issues, many homeowners and contractors use urethane or epoxy crack injections to repair larger (somewhere between 1/16 and ¼ inch) non-serious cracks.

Hairline foundation crack
hairline crack

Horizontal and stair-step cracks are much more severe as they are generally signs of significant foundation damage. Repairs to these cracks are extensive and require professional expertise to prevent severe structural damage. These repairs might include substantial interventions such as excavation or underpinning.

Stair-step foundation crack
stair-step crack

How to Prevent Cracked Foundation

Install Drains Where Needed

Sometimes, you may not have control of the landscape around your home. There may be areas that cause water to pool when there is precipitation. If you witness this problem, one option is to install underground drains that will catch the water and carry it to the edge of your property and away from your foundation.

Clean Your Gutters

A complete gutter will eventually result in an overflow reaching the ground surrounding the foundation. Gutter overflow is easy to alleviate and equally as easy to prevent—not to mention that it will save you a lot of money in the long run. The less water you add to the soil near your foundation, the better.

Install and Maintain a Sump Pump

Simply put, a sump pump removes water accumulating in a basement’s sump basin and pumps it away from your house. If your foundation is installed below the water table, it is particularly susceptible to water damage. With a proper basement waterproofing system, perimeter drains funnel the water to the basin, eliminating the chance of water damage to your foundation.

Hire A Professional

Do not ignore the signs! Even minor foundation cracks can reveal some of the most significant issues. Source a professional basement waterproofing company to come and evaluate the situation. Ensure that the soil around the home is looked at and take necessary steps to prevent it from happening again. Contact our Toronto-based experts at Waterproofing PD to set up your free inspection and estimate.

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