How Big of an Issue is a Hairline Crack in a Basement Wall?

- Monday, April 26, 2021

Adam Tracy, aka The CrackDaddy, aka The Engineer on staff, is here with us to share some more of his engineering wisdom with us.  In this episode, Adam discusses a case where a homeowner was prepping his house for sale. He noticed a hairline crack in the basement wall.  It was just a thin, tiny crack.  How big of an issue was it, Adam explains.

Narrator: The topic of today’s podcast: I have a hairline crack in my foundation wall, how big of an issue is it? So, Adam, a homeowner walks down of the basement one day and notices a hairline crack in their foundation wall. It’s just a thin tiny crack, nothing to worry about, right?

Adam: Well that is the common misconception that everyone has, that it’s just a tiny little issue. It’s been there for as long as they know and it’s never going to be an issue, it’s normal part of things. In a lot of ways, it’s concrete, it’s bound to crack at some point but hairline cracks can present the same issues as something that would be as wide as a quarter of an inch.

We often get phone calls from people saying, “I’ve lived in this house for 25 years and it’s never leaked once, and then, lo and behold, it leaked”. It hasn’t changed size, it hasn’t gotten worse, at least to their eyes, and all of a sudden it starts leaking. Well, what happens? Well, usually what happens is that water finds a way, water always does find a way. Because of that it eventually moves all the dirt and soil and mud, that’s stuck into that crack out of the way and so water can come in. But what happens when we have a house that doesn’t have that water issue, why would you want to preventatively repair it?

We start to get into the spring real estate market, we get these questions all the time from homeowners and real estate agents and prospective buyers for homes. Hairline cracks can present an issue beyond just water leaking. Here’s a couple of reasons why: as a homeowner, in looking at a small hairline crack, you may not realize that it does leak, it may dry by the time you get down there and that might be an issue because during a walk-through on the house, it may be a rainy day. And what would they see when they walk down? A nice little puddle right outside the crack, or right inside the crack that you may not recognize because you’re not down in the basement every day.

The other big issue that you have is most cracks will be flagged by a home inspector. Home inspectors are trained and they go through extensive training and education process to make sure that they pick issues out so that homeowners and prospective homeowners can make educated decisions based on what is the current state of the home. So, they’ll see these hairline cracks and they’ll note them as deficiencies in the foundation and they’ll probably tell you to consult a foundation expert, or, depending on the bedside manner of the home inspector they may tell you it’s a big deal or maybe they’ll tell you it’s not a big deal. But the reality is, is that they’ll note it, and once the home inspector does note it, it does become a negotiating point for the buyers. So, an issue that may have cost less than a thousand dollars to repair, can be a ten thousand dollar negotiating point because they have concerns about the structural safety of the home.

So as a homeowner, getting these things repaired before that happens, kind of squashes the fears of prospective buyers. Another thing that usually happens from a house sale perspective is that the bank gets involved, most people have to use their loan or get a loan to purchase a home and so the bank sends out an appraiser and they come through and inspect the home after the purchase and sale to see, well, what are they getting into as the underwriter for the loan. Are they going to basically give you a big fat loan for a house that is going to collapse at some point in time or that is not going to be worth the paper they’re writing it on? So, they’ll go through and look at the issues brought up by the home inspector and then they’ll also flag anything else that they believe has importance for their underwriting process. So, we get this especially with FHA loans and VA loans, they’re very scrutinous of all foundation issues and they will flag every single one.

Now what does this do as a person who’s buying or selling the home? With buying or selling a home, this delays the whole process, or in some cases, it can blow the whole process up. So you spent six weeks, eight weeks getting through the purchase and sale, the open houses, negotiating, you crossed all the T’s, you dotted all the I’s, the bank comes in in the eleventh hour and says, I’m not going to write a loan for this house because of this hairline crack. And even though it doesn’t seem like it’s an issue, they don’t care, they are the ones who’s giving the money out, so they want it fixed. So, to avoid this whole process, getting these hairline cracks fixed, even whether or not they leak, starts to get this process moving along a lot faster. It opens up your buyer pool to a lot more potential buyers, giving you the maximum value that you can return on the sale of your house.

Narrator: Well very informative, Adam. Thanks for clearing out why it’s important to fix those hairline cracks. Great information, Adam. It’s good to know that this can be done without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new foundation.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.        

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A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.

Toll Free: 866-929-3171

Call Us Today at 866-929-3171

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.