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My house is cracked

I live in a split-level house built in the '70s. After moving in a few years ago we discovered a leaking crack in one of the basement walls. The walls are concrete. The crack is diagonal/vertical, extending down from the corner of the foundation where the fourth level of the house steps down into the fifth (lowest) level. The top of the crack is a little wider and slightly laterally displaced.

Coinciding with the foundation crack are vertical drywall cracks on the fourth and third levels of the house. The cracks are parallel to one another and to the foundation crack (if I measured they would all be 20 feet or whatever from the corner of the house).

The drywall cracks have recurred after re-mudding. We had the basement crack repaired by injection but it has cracked again in the exact same pattern.

Any ideas on what is going on here? Soil expansion? We live in the Edmonton area of Alberta, Canada. Is this going to be a super expensive kind of thing to fix?



Re: My house is cracked

I have the same problem with my house in the boston, ma us area,have had the cracks filled with epoxy, have had the foundation stucco redone, cracks again and again, finally had an engineer look at it a couple of years ago, and they stated from his report that it was expansion and contraction of the ground during seasonal changes, we have a 100 degree tempeture swing here in the north east us,so you should have an engineer look into it it cost me $1,000 and at least I know what is happenning officially, the engineer said short of replacing the foundation there was no way to stop this, I just had the corner that was the worst cracks to date re-epoxied and they mud jacked the slab under the house corner which was built directly on top of blue stone ledge, so far it has been 2 years and no more cracks. Good Luck!

Re: My house is cracked


Well, this is obviously no laughing matter!

Over the years I've heard of so many people who are victimized by shoddy, sloppy workmanship, and it's the homeowner who pays the price; it's hard to visualize exactly the nature of your problem without several photos, but I can pretty well surmise that the cracks are due to careless workmanship on the part of the concrete contractor and the backhoe operator who perhaps didn't even bother to do anything about the condition of the ground when they originally excavated the trenches for the poured foundation.

On my own property that I bought on the same time frame I noticed wall cracks very similar to what you describe in the cinder block garage; since it was a thin concrete floor, I was able to dig down in the vicinity of the crack and discovered to my chagrin that the jerks had poured the foundation DIRECTLY OVER an intersecting concrete foundation that had been poured 40 years previously at a lower level when the property was a dairy farm.

Naturally, the foundation settled on the old wall and cracked the garage foundation as well as the cinder block wall-----in MY case I was able to remove part of the original wall with a demolition hammer to relieve the pressure & to allow the garage foundation to settle at its own pace.

jled96 mentions that his foundation was poured RIGHT OVER a blue ledge, and I suspect, Sky, that you may have the same problem----there's a good chance there's a stone ledge, an old concrete foundation, or simply a very large boulder that the foundation contractors negligently failed to remove before they made the pour that eventually became your house!

jled 96 also recommends involving an engineer---and this is good advice; in the U.S. they are called CIVIL ENGINEERS (see Yellow Pages under Engineers, Civil); not sure the title is the same in Canada; a CE is highly trained in concrete structures, and are familiar with the intricacies of concrete foundation settling, and the particular stressors that cause poured foundations to crack; if you simply call a general contractor, or foundation contractor, they may not know some of the particulars of why a foundation cracks, or some of the techniques used to make the repair----in fact, there's no guarantee that the ENGINEER you hire will know his stuff!

The best of luck on this, I know you will be successful!


Re: My house is cracked

Thanks for the advice and encouragement jled96 and al! I am going to make some phone calls on Tuesday and see if I can get someone to come and have a look at these cracks. I will post again in case anyone else is going through this and wants to know what happens.

Re: My house is cracked

Asking a civil engineer for his opinion is a good start, but you should contact foundation contractors as well. These are the guys who do the work and who face these problems hands on day in and day out. You'll need an experienced contractor - ask for recommendations and check them out. Sometimes you can tell if a contractor has been around by checking with the board and by his license number.
Ask questions and press for accurate answers, and if you don't get them, move on to the next contractor. You have a serious situation, but not something that can't be fixed. It will not be cheap, so spend your money wisely.

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