Stair-Step Foundation Crack

All You Need to Know About Foundation Cracks

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

Causes of a Cracked Foundation

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

Soil Settlement

If your soil is sinking or settling, this can result in cracks forming 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 common 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. Whether it is plumbing leaks, poor drainage systems, or ineffective soil grading, water is a serious enemy.

Types of Foundation Cracks and Common Fixes

Many different types of cracks can develop in your foundation, with varying levels of severity. The kind of crack and seriousness of it 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 generally be repaired with ease.

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

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

Hairline foundation crack
hairline crack

Horizontal and stair-step foundation cracks are much more serious as they are generally signs of significant foundation damage. Repairs to these types of cracks are quite extensive and require professional expertise to prevent serious 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 the installation of 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 full gutter will result in an overflow that will eventually reach the ground that surrounds 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 are adding to the soil near your foundation, the better.

Install and Maintain a Sump Pump

Simply put, a sump pump removes water that accumulates in the sump basin of a basement 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 in place, perimeter drains will funnel the water to the basin and eliminate the chance of water damage to your foundation.

Hire A Professional

Do not ignore the signs! Even the smallest of foundation cracks can reveal some of the biggest 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 ensure that it does not happen again. Contact our Toronto-based experts at Waterproofing PD to set up your free inspection and estimate.

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