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10 Foundation Cracks Every Homeowner Should Understand

Cracked corner of brick house.

Finding cracks in your home’s foundation is unsettling, especially since you’ve invested time and care into maintaining it.

Understanding the type of crack you’re dealing with can guide you toward the right solution.  

Different cracks indicate different problems, from normal settling to serious structural damage. By identifying specific characteristics, you can better assess the urgency of the repair needed.  

Let’s delve into 10 types of foundation cracks to watch out for. 

Common Types of Foundation Cracks 

Horizontal crack in basement wall.

1. Horizontal Crack

Horizontal cracks in your foundation are often caused by pressure from soil or water outside the foundation.

Commonly found in basement walls, they indicate structural problems due to hydrostatic pressure or soil expansion.

Homeowners should consider horizontal cracks a significant concern and consult a professional.

Stair-step crack in basement wall.

2. Stair-Step Cracks

Stair step cracks typically appear in masonry joints of concrete blocks and follow a zigzag pattern.

These cracks may result from differential settlement, meaning parts of the foundation are sinking unevenly.

These cracks are serious and need a professional inspection as soon as you notice them.

3. Hairline Cracks

Hairline cracks are thin and can be found in both new and old homes.

These are usually the result of the concrete curing process and minor settling.

While they are not a sign of structural problems, it’s important to monitor these cracks for changes in size or length. 

4. Vertical Cracks

Vertical cracks run up and down and are most common in poured concrete walls.

They are usually less severe than horizontal cracks and don’t always mean foundation damage.

However, they do allow water to leak in, so having a professional seal them is important.

Diagonal crack in drywall.

5. Diagonal Cracks

Diagonal cracks, running at an angle, indicate settlement.

The uneven settling causes tension in the foundation materials, leading to these types of cracks.

It’s important to have these cracks inspected, especially if they widen over time. 

6. Shrinkage Cracks

Shrinkage cracks occur as concrete dries, shrinks, and hardens, which is a normal part of the curing process.

These cracks are generally thin, do not present structural concerns, and are common in new construction.

Crack on foundation slab.

7. Foundation Slab Cracks

Cracks in the foundation slab can vary in severity.

They may be due to shrinkage, thermal movement, or ground movement beneath the slab.

While small, hairline slab cracks are typical, larger cracks are more troublesome and should be inspected.

Wet, leaking cracks in a basement.

8. Wet Cracks

Wet cracks are just as the name describes, cracks that leak.

They indicate that water from the outside is entering through the foundation and can lead to mold and mildew problems.

These should be addressed quickly to prevent water damage and potential health issues. 

9. Non-Structural Crack

Non-structural cracks, while unsightly, do not affect the structural integrity of the foundation.

They are often caused by normal settling, shrinkage, or thermal movement.

10. Structural Crack

Structural cracks are a significant concern as they affect the integrity of the foundation.

They can be caused by soil pressure, poor construction, or changes in the ground conditions around your home.

These cracks are usually wider than hairline cracks and can grow over time. Schedule an inspection right away.  

By understanding the different types of foundation cracks and their causes, homeowners can take proactive steps.

Contacting foundation repair specialists like our team at Innovative Basement Authority is best. We can determine the severity and if any repairs are necessary.

How Do You Fix Basement Cracks? 

Innovative Basement Authority provides specialized solutions to address foundation cracks using state-of-the-art techniques and products.

We focus on delivering long-lasting results by installing various foundation piers and innovative wall repair options.

Our foundation’s stabilization solutions include: 

  • Helical Piers: These are twisted into the ground, adapting well to varying soil conditions and providing reliable support where the soil is inconsistent. 
  • Push Piers: These piers are driven hydraulically into the soil until they hit a stable soil layer, ensuring solid support for your foundation. 
  • Slab Piers: Designed specifically for concrete slab foundations, they offer targeted support to the directly affected areas. 
Inspector installing foundation piers.

We also use:

  • Wall Anchors: Positioned in the ground outside your home and linked to the walls via steel rods, they are perfect for securing and potentially straightening bowing or leaning walls. 
  • IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair Beams: These adjustable steel I-beams are installed along your basement walls’ interior. They provide a methodical approach to correcting and fortifying walls that show signs of stress but are not accessible from the exterior. 
Wall beams installed on basement wall.

Innovative Basement Authority aims not only to stabilize your home’s foundation but also to restore it as closely as possible to its original position.

Schedule Your Free Foundation Inspection Today 

IBA installation truck ready to help.

While discovering foundation cracks can be concerning, understanding their causes is the first step.

Not all cracks spell disaster, but distinguishing between harmless and potentially dangerous ones is important.

If you’re noticing cracks, don’t wait. Protect your investment by scheduling a free inspection with Innovative Basement Authority.

Our expert team is ready to assess your foundation’s condition and provide you with the best solutions tailored to your home’s specific needs.


The rate at which foundation cracks spread varies based on the underlying cause, the type of soil, and weather conditions. While some may remain stable for years, others can worsen quickly, especially if water infiltration is involved.

Yes, seasonal changes, particularly freeze-thaw cycles and varying moisture levels in the soil, can impact foundation cracks by causing expansion and contraction in the foundation materials.

Active cracks are those that continue to change in width or length over time, indicating ongoing movement. Dormant cracks remain the same size and indicate that there has been no recent movement.

Related Resources

Leah Leitow

Leah Leitow

Content Writer

Leah is a Content Writer for Groundworks with nearly ten years of experience working in the foundation repair industry. Her experience ranges from working with homeowners to find the right solution to training inspectors and staff. In her background as a Michigan journalist, she gained invaluable insight into people's lives throughout our state. Leah lives in metro Detroit with her husband and two sons.

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