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I was hoping to get some guidance. I recently purchased a home. During the inspection process, the inspectors put in their report that there was a hairline horizontal crack in the foundation. It was mentioned in their report, however, they told me verbally it was nothing to worry about(and I trusted them :( ), as there was no signs of shoving or spreading - so the house passed inspection. On the inside, you are not able to stick a dime in the crack, and there are no signs of water seeping in. However, upon closing, I was working around the house, and noticed that the crack is roughly the same height above the floor, and probably goes all the way around the 3 sides of the foundation(4th side is the walk out), the basement is partially finished, so I am not able to see the entire wall to know for 100% sure. On one side, the slope of the ground shows that the crack is visible from the outside. I took a level to the wall, and it SEEMED level, however I am not a contractor. The house was built in 1956, and has a poured basement(as far as I can tell). I am having an SE come look today, however I am curious if any of you have experienced this? I am worried I may have ruined my life financially by buying this house.

Any info will be appreciated. Thanks!

UPDATE: The SE came today, and didn't seem concerned, as the walls showed no signs of shoving, water, and were level. However, I have attached photos. The third photo shows epoxied cracks, and a smaller crack above. From what I understand, this epoxy would have been done 5+ years ago, and has not shown any movement judging by the epoxy. The smaller crack above does not travel any further than that photo, and I plan to epoxy that. The basement is partially finished, so I am not able to see all the way around. If I absolutely had to, I would unfinish the parts needed to make any fixes...I am considering attaching glass to the wall over the crack. That way, If the glass cracks, I know the wall is showing movement. We have got consistent heavy rain in my area recently, and no sign of water seeping through.

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  • Welcome to DIYSE. Unfortunately, your question is too broad for our format. Most of us aren't engineers, we don't have enough information about your home, and you've essentially asked whether we "have experienced this". That's not a great fit for a Q&A site. Please take the tour to learn how we're different from a discussion forum. – isherwood Sep 30 '19 at 12:45
  • I wouldn't worry. You had it inspected, why do you know not trust the professional opinion you were given? What do you expect the SE to say? Houses have foundations made out of many different materials. What problem do you imagine on a concrete foundation with a hairline crack even if it wraps around the entire foundation? – Fresh Codemonger Sep 30 '19 at 15:05
  • If you post some good pictures then people might be able to post better opinions. Do note that opinions are all that you will receive. You've bought the house "as-is" so everything is your problem moving forward. – MonkeyZeus Sep 30 '19 at 16:15
  • @MonkeyZeus It’s their problem, unless the seller did not disclose something about the house or foundation that they knew was a problem. – Lee Sam Sep 30 '19 at 17:31
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    I would agree with the inspector that it is probably not a problem, there is rebar in the foundation both vertically and horizontally. Concrete is prone to cracking and I was taught in my youth that there are 2 kinds of concrete, the type that has cracks and the type that will crack. That was over 50 years ago and today I have seen enough to say the same. – Ed Beal Sep 30 '19 at 21:49
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No, no, no, a horizontal crack COMPLETELY THROUGH your foundation wall on 3 sides of your house is not normal and is not acceptable...especially if you’re able to stick a dime in the crack...this is not just a “hairline” crack.

I’ve designed hundreds and hundreds of concrete walls, slabs, etc. and NONE have cracked. People who have cracked foundations, slabs, etc. do not understand the difference between reinforcing rebar and temperature steel.

I suspect your problem is one of the following issues

  1. lack of vertical rebar for the load
  2. lack of temperature steel due to thickness of wall
  3. contractor pouring a portion of the foundation wall up a ways (usually about half way) and then when they finish the pour they do not vibrate (consolidate) the two pours together by using a vibrator (contractors call it a stinger). This creates a “cold joint” between the two pours.

This allows a small “hairline” crack that can grow due to movement of the building or water penetration into the joint and then freezing and expanding, etc. (if you live in a cold climate, I suspect this is the cause of your problem.)

If the wall is still level, (smart of you to check,) I doubt if it’s a structural problem (lack of vertical rebar). and I’d definitely seal the cracks to prevent bugs, water penetrating the crack...freezing and continuing to crack the wall further.

  • Thanks @lee! I added photos. The SE didn't seem concerned. I am in the midwest, and the area is known to get pretty cold. I also assumed it was a "cold joint" as it stays roughly the same height throughout the house. I considered calling a company to come inspect, and possibly look into epoxy in addition to carbon fiber straps, but I am not sure if that is necessary – testtesttest Oct 1 '19 at 3:45
  • Also - to clarify. Inside of the house, you are unable to stick a dime in the crack, as you can tell from the photos. – testtesttest Oct 1 '19 at 3:51
  • Any suggestion on how remedy these? – testtesttest Oct 1 '19 at 10:30
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I would not be concerned at all a house built in 56 if there were problems they would have shown up long before now. The reason the crack is horizontal , my guess the foundation walls were pumped and this is the change of trucks. If you look close you may see a slight difference in the aggregate above and below the crack line. Normally we use a vibrator but I used to see contractors only use a dowel and shove down through the layers, then a hammer on the forms, a vibrates is better but things were not as automated back in the 50’s. There is rebar in the wall vertically and horizontally, depending on the soil level outside there could be steel into the foundation every 4” , may not be that much on most homes usually 6” between verticals , I just mentioned 4” because the last below grade job I did was 11’ below grade and it required 4” on center for that wall. So I would not worry, I might seal it with a latex caulking so it will be pliable and not chip out if you have extreme frost heave in the winter. But no worries it looks like a good pour.

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