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I have some cracks in the foundation of the house I am about to buy. The house is 100 years old, there doesn't seem to be water leaks. The cracks don't look to be offset. Attached is the picture (sorry for the quality, I got it from inspector). This is townhouse and there are two houses on the sides which I believe are touching my foundation on the outside.

enter image description here

The question is - how hard is it to fix the cracks? Can I do it myself and if I can - what literature would you recommend? The guy who inspected the house said the cracks don't seem to be dangerous since they are not too wide and there is no staggering.

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Really what you should be concerned about is water. No water is a really good sign! –  Steven Dec 24 '12 at 4:43
    
Well, I know it is good, but I want to finish the basement and I don't want cracks to be there under the walls, so need to stabilize and fix them. Hence the question. –  Roman Goyenko Dec 27 '12 at 16:58
    
imgur.com/gallery/f88d2 (couldn't help it, please be kind mods). That said (and that's not a serious recommendation). The first answer seems to be the best one. The one caveat that I would add is cracks in the walls may extend to the foundation, and if you experience seepage from ground water, you should be concerned with a cracked / leaky foudation, which is a whole other can of worms. I'd check for residual moisture if you can, that may be a sign of ground water seeping up. –  Paul Hazen Dec 27 '12 at 19:07

3 Answers 3

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+50

If the cracks aren't new, then there's really nothing to 'stabilize' as that's already happened over the past 100 years.

If they are new, then you have bigger problems and need a structural engineer out there to figure out why your footers are sinking.

Assuming they are old cracks, if you don't have water problems, you don't really need to do anything with them. But if you do want to seal them, and you're going to cover them (so not overly worried about aesthetics) then a hydraulic cement product is what you are looking for such as

enter image description here

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I have no idea on the age of the cracks, inspector said it's pretty common and should not be a problem. I just want to avoid potential problems and fix it as good as possible. Inspector was talking about epoxy based solutions - anyone knows about those? –  Roman Goyenko Dec 28 '12 at 16:46

You have cracks. Which everyone is telling you is not a problem. You can repoint the brick and the surface cracks will disappear at least until the wall shifts again, at which point they'll telegraph back out. You can decide what you want to do but the consensus seems to be that you don't need to do anything to them. The consensus also seems to be that you may have water concerns, but based on the photos I would say you probably don't.

Put up the furring, and hang the drywall. Cracks disappear like magic.

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As these walls appear to be load bering, I'd probably call a proper mason if your really looking to repair the cracks.

On the cheap and easy side, you could probably use this:

Waterproofing

image

If you really, want to try to repair the crack yourself, I found this:

How to do brick / concrete repairs

I edited the content, here is the jist:

Begin by cleaning all crumbling brick and mortar from the crack with a cold chisel and sledgehammer. Where the crack runs through a brick or a concrete block, use a brick chisel, angled into the crack, to widen and undercut the break.

Enlarge the crack to a consistent width and clean the inside of the crack to its full depth, or as far in as you can reach. Wire-brush the crack, inside and out, to remove debris, then flush it thoroughly with water from a garden hose. Cracks that affect only a single layer of brick can be filled with mortar. Mix a small amount of mortar according to the directions on the package. Spread a little mortar on a scrap of corrugated cardboard, where it will dry quickly and reveal its true color.

Mix enough mortar to fill the crack. Spray the crack thoroughly with the garden hose. Fill the crack with mortar using a small, sharp trowel to force the mortar into the full depth of the crack. Treat the crack as one long joint, filling cleaned-out joints and the gaps in broken bricks or concrete block evenly all along the crack.

When the crack is solidly packed with mortar, finish the surface with a jointer and the trowel. Match the old joints where the crack follows a joint: trowel the mortar to match the surface where the mended surface is block or brick.

Let the crack cure thoroughly for at least 1 week. Spray the patched area lightly with the garden hose several times a day during the curing period.

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Redgard is really designed for shower surrounds and the like. It won't add any structural stability to a foundation. An interior waterproof membrane on a foundation also isn't terribly useful (as the water pressure is coming from the outside) but probably won't hurt, either. –  DA01 Dec 27 '12 at 19:41

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