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How to Find Basement Wall Cracks in a Finished Basement

Mar 14, 2012 • By Matthew Stock.

How to Find Basement Wall Cracks in a Finished Basement

Bar none, basement wall cracks are the most common source of seepage problems.  If you have a foundation that is constructed of poured concrete, there’s a very high likelihood there is a crack somewhere in your foundation.  If your basement is finished, it can become a challenge to find them, unless you have x-ray vision like Superman. 


While all basement waterproofers like to think of themselves as Supermen, I’m about to share a secret with you.  We can’t see through drywall or paneling.  That’s right, we don’t have special powers!  We just have experience.  And a lot of it!

Before you start ripping down your drywall or paneling, take a walk outside.  Not down the block (as frustrated as you might be!), but around the exterior of your home.  It’s best if there is still daylight.  Otherwise, grab a powerful flashlight.  And make sure to bring your eyeglasses with you. 

The first thing you want to do is locate the top of your foundation wall.  Ideally, it should extend above your grading at least a few inches.  If not, grab a shovel and pull back the soil enough so you can expose the top of the foundation.  It should look something like this:

Basement Wall Cracks 2

Once the foundation is exposed and identified, clean off the surface of the wall.  A wire brush will usually do the trick.  Now, slowly scan the exposed portion of the foundation and look for hairline cracks.  When I say hairline, some cracks are just 1/16 of an inch wide.  Now you know why I said grab your glasses!  Here’s a photo to give you a better idea:

Basement Wall Cracks 3

Spend some extra time on the sections of the wall that correspond with basement seepage.  Say, for instance you noticed the carpeting was wet about ten feet to the left of your chimney inside your basement.  When you go back outside, measure ten feet to the right of the chimney (remember you are now looking at the flipside).  

Don’t expect to find cracks all over the place.  The average house has between two and eight foundation cracks.  Don’t be fooled by form lines in the foundation.  They are superficial and don’t leak because they don’t go all the way through the wall.  Form lines are left in the concrete when the wood forms are pulled.  They are found at fixed intervals.  See the photo below so you know what a form line looks like (look at the back wall):

Basement Wall Cracks 4

So you found a few cracks.  What should you do next?

First, I would suggest reading our recent article on why a basement wall cracks.  After you get a better understanding on what might have caused the crack, learn about the different crack repair methods available.

So there you have it.  You’ve found our kryptonite!  Now you just need to find someone to fix the foundation cracks.  Might I suggest giving U.S. Waterproofing a call?  We offer competitive pricing and a lifetime transferable warranty on residential properties.  We’ve also fixed more cracks than just about anyone in the country - thousands upon many thousands of them since we were founded in 1957. 

If you schedule your consultation online, you can also save an additional 10%.  This isn’t a limited time offer, but I wouldn’t wait too long.  Remember, cracks don’t fix themselves!  Eventually, they will leak.  It’s just a matter of time.  You might as well start enjoying your basement again.  Your drywall and carpeting will thank you. 


Tags: foundation cracks, basement crack, cracks in basement walls, interior foundation crack repair, exterior foundation crack repair

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