Basement Wall Cracks


I have a problem with horizontal and step cracking in my concrete block basement walls. The step cracking looks relatively minor, but there is a nasty looking horizontal crack most of the length of one wall. It is close to a quarter inch wide in some places and located in the fourth joint from the top which is about two blocks below the soil line.
The cracks have never leaked. I did do a quick job of repairing the largest crack two years ago but they recracked. I'm guessing from the location this is due to freezing/thawing.The walls are slightly bowed - if i am measuring properly, there is about a half inch of displacement. I believe the displacement has increased only slightly since 2002 when I had an expert evaluate my basement before i installed a rec room. (The large crack was discovered at that time under some wood paneling - that's why i called the foundation expert)
We are now getting the house ready for sale. I am considering having the crack tuckpointed and disclosing the repair as well as the existence of the crack behind the finised part of the basement. I am pretty sure the cracks will reappear after the next freeze/thaw and I do not want a future lawsuit. I'm going to have some contractors in this week, and i'm wondering if they will try to talk me into steel posts or excavating.
The walls without the large crack also show some displacement. Would anyone know what amount of wall displacement is considered accepable? Also, i get the geneal idea of determining displacement by dropping a plumb and measuring distance to the wall. But at what levels would I measure? The top, middle and very bottom measurements are all different. Is it the greatest dufference?
Thanks in advance for your advice/opinions.
Rob
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Use a string from one end of the wall to the other end. If the wall is bowing out into the basement in the middle, the string will not stretch out straight from one end to the other, but will hit on the max point of the bowing. Do this near the top of the wall and also a few inches off the basement floor.
I am guessing that the wall near the floor will be straight and the upper wall will be bowed into the room. If so, get thee hence to a bank to get some $$$ and then to a contractor to reinforce the wall, either on the inside or on the outside, before the entire wall falls into the basement. Talk to neighbors to see how they have addressed the problem, it is usually an area-wide ground water/ground composition problem.
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Rob Kiz wrote:

By any chance, is there a patio or porch outside the bowed area? And if so, does it slope toward the house or away like it originally did? I passed on an otherwise ideal house when I was house shopping, that had the same problem. It was clear what happened- front porch (a patio, really) frost-heaved, and was ponding water against the foundation. It would run down outside of basement wall, freeze, and shove wall inward. Must have been $100 worth of tar and silicone at the joint, futilely trying to stop the leak. House has changed hands several times since I passed on it, and no sign that anyone has bit down on the bullet and fixed it correctly. (Demo front porch, excavate, add drains, rebuild wall with reinforcements, etc.)
But like the others said- there is no cheap long- term fix for this.
--
aem sends...

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Purchased a house with a similar problem, horizontal cracking near the midline about two feet down from the soil line. The first part of the fix was to replace gutters and to insure that any potential water problems were addressed. The second (and more painful) was to open the wall up at four ft. intervals and to create a continuous reinforced concrete column. (not as bad as it sounds) basically I had a civil engineer create a plan for repair, documented to the local authority, stating the rebar size, placement and frequency. He also specified the concrete mix and the locations in the wall requiring the reinforcement. This ended up requiring the four ft. intervals and 1/2" rebar continuous from top to bottom.
The repair was done about four years ago and there has been no opening of cracks or any leakage of water in that period of time. Total cost for gutters and refit was around 5K using licensed contractors. (I wanted to be sure that I could respond to any buyer concerns when selling the house)
There are a couple of other strategies that can also be used in this situation. The first is the one suggested above, excavate the outside and pour a ground beam to direct the force of soil towards the corners after installation of drains. The other is to epoxy carbon fiber strips on the interior of the wall vertically. This places a tensile member with great strength on the part of the wall to resist the thrust.
All of these solutions assume that you are addressing any water problems by regrading the outside soil away from the house and/ or ensuring that gutters are working properly and are discharging the water away from the foundation.
Good luck with the fix.
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