Cracks around the basement walls

OK. I thought I should add a better title to this query, then just “Syd”!

I am interested in purchasing a fixer-upper. The property is located in a very good and settled neighborhood in a quiet middle-class suburb. However, I just found out about the cracks around the basement walls. Can anyone give me advice as to how serious this problem could be, and how much it would cost me to fix it. Thanks.

Please click on the link below to view the pictures of the issue.

how old is the house. does not look too old since it has a cinder block foundation which is going to leak. Obviously, you got water coming in, but probably a result of poor drainage outside (root cause of water coming). Could be as simple as downspouts draining right next to the foundation, but probably the gradeis wrong right next to the house.

Very fixable; if you are willing to do some digging yourself, it can be fixed for very cheap.

The house was built in 1951. The owners bought it then and never left. They both died in this house. The mother passed away recently. The son, who grew up in this house, is trying to sell it it as an estate. The son claims, in writing, that these cracks appeared two years after the house was built.

It looks as if the wall is bowing a bit. That large block like item (in picture below) appears to be a buttress that was put in to shore up the foundation. This appears to be an issue that has had to be addressed a number of times.

I would try to bring a foundation guy in to see what they can do. Even with the ‘buttress’, the pressure still cracked that. I would be a little scared of this one.

You might even want to see what the cost is to correct the issue by replacing that wall. I was surprised to see 2 guys in a friends neighborhood that had this job done. In both cases, they were finished in 2 days with a good crew.


The pictures sure look scary. It seems like you have a drainage problem and water is getting in through the window and working its way through the whole foundation. Does the grade go away from the house. Maybe that may be an easy fix. Looks like water has been coming in for years.

If the water is seeping in then there seems to be no waterproof barrier. Was the foundation waterproofed in anyway? Can you dig outside down into the dirt and see if it was ever waterproofed or just block against dirt.

My childhood house was built in 1953 and always had water in the basement after a hard rain and was built like this one. We never had the water stains like this or the cracking, but had 5" of water on the floor in a good rain. The water seeped through the cinderblock somehow.

The cracking scares me more than the leaking. I’d hire a foundation guy to check this out. He would be your best resource. You’ll need to hire someone to fix this so call him for an opinion and estimate.

Good luck and keep us posted.

you need to have someone look at it however, here’s a few things to consider.

it is not uncommon for a foundation to crack; particular one made of cinder block and depnmding on the soil type in your area and how much grading what done on the lot prior to construction. Usually most of this movement occurs in the first few years so the current owners explaination is possible.

concrete and esp. cinder block is porous. water will come thru especially if the dirt around the foundation is hard packed. Most likely the foundation needs to be dug out, sealed and/or heavy plastic applied to the foundation and then properly backfill with a proper mixture of sand and gravel to allow proper drainage.

get someone who knows what they are doing do have a look, get a frim estimate and then go back the seller and try and get some money out of them to cover it.

I know a guy who just started his own business fixing problems like this from the inside. I can’t remember the details but I think it involved some sort of resin. So I think there is a fix from the inside, but I have no idea how well these work. Maybe someone else here has experience with coatings?

It looks like that cracking is at about the same level (slightly below) as the ground level outside the building. Assuming that’s true, and the cracking is uniform around the whole basement, it is probably the result of unequal pressure, with the top part bowing somewhat outward or inward. This could be caused by a lot of things, including frost heave, water ingress, etc etc. The cracking appearing shortly after construction makes sense, as it would only happen once to relieve the stresses involved.

If the cracking is uniform, and is not significantly bowed, I’d bet you could just grind out a shallow trough in the crack and fill it with an epoxy that was formulated for concrete, and had some flexibility to it. You could then seal the whole wall (below grade) with epoxy resin from the inside to prevent seep, and if there is a concrete slab floor, you could do that as well. And you would want to put in a stand pipe for the drain (if there is one) that reached up to grade.

Definitely get two concrete guys in to evaluate it for you, I’d say.