How To Fix A Crack In Your Basement? Washington DC Metro Area

by | Apr 15, 2021 | Blog

Have you seen a crack in your house? If yes, know that this is not uncommon in our Washington DC metro area region. In fact, many houses in PG county, MD and certain areas of Washington DC have cracks in their foundation. About 60% of houses are constructed on clay soil and out of these, about 60% experience foundation issues. This means a large number of houses have cracks.
You already know that most of your home’s foundation is below the surface. But you may not realize just how much pressure it’s under. The weight of the soil, after heavy rains, is enormous and that’s why concrete is reinforced with rebar during construction. Usually, this reinforcement is enough to maintain a solid foundation, but occasionally, the concrete succumbs to the pressure of soil pressing in against it. When this happens, and the pressure is too great and it can create a bowing effect in the walls of your foundation resulting in horizontal cracks. The look of a bowed wall is very impressive and scary.
Bowed Wall
You may wonder, is it dangerous? Can it be fixed? How can it be repaired? How much will that cost? Those are very legitimate questions and need to be addressed.

Signs Of Cracks In Your Foundation

Let’s start by examining the signs of potential cracks in the foundation. You can look for them around your house and take pictures.

Have you seen:

  • Any type of wall cracks? Horizontal or stair-step cracks are common when a foundation wall tilts or bows. If your foundation wall is made from concrete blocks, you might notice diagonal cracking between individual blocks.
  • Tilting? A foundation wall will lean in when the top of the wall is being pushed inward by soil pressure.
  • Bowing ? This happens when part of the wall has weakened and is being pushed inward.

Causes Of Cracked And Bowing Basement Wall


Bowing and cracked foundation walls are usually caused by the expansion of soils and hydrostatic pressure. When the clay soil around the foundation absorbs water, it expands and pushes against your foundation – this is referred to as hydrostatic pressure. When the force exceeds the strength of the wall, after a few years eventually the wall cracks or breaks. As the soil dries, it pulls away from your foundation walls, creating weak areas. When the soil around the foundation swells with moisture again, this causes further weakening and inward movement.

This pressure can be increased by heavy rain, poor drainage, inadequate grading and expansion due to frost, and large tree roots.This is especially true for our Washington DC metro area where we get heavy rains and some frost. Other structures, such as a driveway or porch can also put pressure on your foundation walls and cause damage.

Horizontal cracks, or water leaking through the foundation walls are early signs of increased hydrostatic pressure on your basement walls. If these problems are ignored, your walls will eventually fail.

Horizontal cracks

How To Repair A Cracked And Bowing Basement Walls?

A Bowed basement or foundation wall can be straightened but often requires excavating the foundation, lifting the weight of the structure off the wall, and reinforcing the wall inside.

The pressure from the soil or porch surrounding the cracked wall needs to be removed in order to assure an effective repair. The excavation process is lengthy and costly but will expose the exterior wall of the foundation so it can be waterproofed after the cracks are repaired.

Bowed Wall

The bowed wall inside the house in the basement will also be repaired. Cracks need to be filled and walls will be waterproofed with a scellant to keep humidity out. The degree of the bowing will dictate the extent of fixing needed. If a concrete wall is still within tolerance in its current condition it can be reinforced without straightening and beams will be erected in a fashion that provides lateral concrete support.

Repairing the foundation of a house can cost as little as $350 for an individual crack to $1,350 for multiple cracks. However, the total cost can be as high as $20,000 or more if you’re also dealing with major structural problems. Foundation repair cost depends on the type of foundation as well as the type, extent, and severity of the problem.

Leaving it untouched or ignoring it might be tempting, remember that untreated, these cracks will continue to worsen, leak, and affect negatively both the structural integrity and the resale value of your home.

Addressing any of these issues early-on will save costly repairs down the road. For this important reason, you must have someone help you assess your foundations issues. Give us a call us, we are more than happy to assist in helping you discover some options.

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