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Beam & Column Replacement
Foundation Repairs FAQ

If Your Home Has a Basement, You Probably Have a Crack in the Foundation

Most cracks won’t cause a leak right away. But eventually, water will travel into the cracks into your basement. The combination of thermal movement, drying shrinkage, and other environmental stresses affect all foundations. If Reliable Basement Services treats your foundation cracks, you won’t have to worry about this happening.


A crack might seem small and insignificant, but over time it will become much larger and problematic. The crack could cause water to leak into your basement or even cause a structural problem in your house’s foundation. To prevent this, you need to look into foundation crack repair companies.


Reliable Basement Services is a Chicago foundation repair company that has successfully repaired thousands of basement cracks for satisfied customers. Our employees are skilled professionals at repairing cracked foundations. We can permanently fix your cracks by using a high-pressure injection of polyurethane foam repair materials or a low-pressure injection of epoxy resin. With these injections, there’s no need for a disruptive excavation. Our crack injections have resulted in many successful Chicago foundation repairs.

Epoxy or Polyurethane Injection?

Epoxy and polyurethane are two types of injections that Reliable Basement Services use to fix basement cracks. Often when we are repairing a cracked foundation, either option would work. But there are some general guidelines that help us decide which type of injection to use. If your crack needs to be structurally repaired, and the area needs to be strong or at least stronger than the concrete around it, epoxy is the right choice. But if you need to repair the crack solely to prevent water leakage or to prevent the crack from actively leaking, a polyurethane injection is the best choice. Consider these benefits of both materials.


Epoxies have an incredible compressive strength of 12,000 psi or more—that’s even stronger than most concrete! This makes epoxies a great choice for cracks that require structural repair. However, epoxies cure very slowly. It usually takes them hours to harden, which means it’s possible for the epoxy to flow out of the backside of the crack before it has hardened. This will probably only happen if the backfill outside the wall has separated from the foundation.


If the main concern with your basement is a water leak, polyurethane foams are the best choice. Polyurethane foams are elastomeric and set quickly, which makes them the most effective solution for waterproofing when there is no need for a structural repair. Because of its expansive properties, this material will get into even the smallest crevices. The elastomeric nature also allows polyurethane to accommodate slight concrete movements. Even with age, this seal will stay intact.


Polyurethane begins to cure in just minutes! This means there are fewer chances for the material to flow out of an injected crack when it’s still in its liquid form. Even if some of the polyurethane does leak, it will foam and expand to fill the void. Urethane is perfect for basic foundation crack filling. It adds almost zero compression strength, but this isn’t needed when repairing a cracked foundation in most residential applications.

Superficial Repairs Vs. Foundation Crack Repair Companies

Many homeowners may be tempted to use caulk or hydraulic cement to patch concrete cracks. But caulk is only a temporary solution for repairing a cracked foundation. It’s superficial and won’t prevent water from seeping behind the material. The result of this is efflorescence. Eventually, the caulk will crack and peel off, which will expose a crack that has enlarged from freezing and erosion. Hydraulic cement does not bond well. It also leads to efflorescence. Eventually, all of the seeping water will dislodge the cement plug.


Reliable Basement Services has a success rate of nearly 100% when it comes to Chicago foundation repair. We are so confident in our manufacturers and our staff that we offer a lifetime warranty on all our injection repairs. We are dedicated to your satisfaction.


By using an injection product, Reliable Basement Services is able to fix any major inconvenience you’re dealing with. We’ll save you thousands of dollars, and you won’t ever have to deal with an exterior excavation disrupting your daily life.


A do-it-yourself basement crack repair kit is never a good substitute for hiring a Chicago foundation repair company. These kits won’t provide you with the money back guarantee or the professional high-quality service you’ll get with Reliable Basement Services. If you are looking to sell your home, the buyer will most likely require you to give them warranties of the work you’ve had done. If you opt to use the do-it-yourself kit, you won’t be able to provide that.

How to Evaluate and Diagnose Foundation Cracks


Usually, shrinkage cracks are uniform in width. They are sometimes v-shaped—wider and then diminishing or stopping before reaching the bottom of the foundation wall, but this is less common. If you have a wall crack that goes all the way into the floor, it will most likely involve the building footings and may be a settlement crack that is damaging the structural integrity of the building.


While it is curing, concrete shrinks. With poured concrete, this shrinkage causes cracks that may be non-uniform if the wall components are held by footings/framing. It’s common for there to be minor shrinkage cracks that are hairline, random, intermittent, multiple and meandering in the concrete. If the concrete was not properly mixed, or if control joints were omitted, the shrinkage cracks will be larger and appear more frequently. Sometimes cracks form because of the omission of or the placement of steel reinforcements.


Most of the time shrinkage cracking is a result of a poor mix, rapid curing process, or other factors with the original construction. It’s less likely that shrinkage cracks will require structural maintenance or repairs if they are in the concrete because these cracks aren’t expected to continue after the initial curing.



Concrete block foundation walls also shrink as they cure. They rarely expand very much when exposed to moisture and temperature changes. With concrete block walls, you’ll probably see uniform shrinkage cracks that occur towards the center of a concrete masonry unit (CMU) wall. The wall is stronger at the building corners. CMU walls can’t be injected like poured concrete walls. They require different repair methods.


Instead of shrinking, brick walls usually grow indefinitely. Bricks are not often used for below-grade foundations, but instead for above-grade supporting the first floor of older buildings. Entire buildings can also be constructed using structural brick walls. If you see a crack in a brick wall, it’s probably due to movement in the structure, a support problem, or thermal expansion. Cracks in structural brick walls can be serious if the bond courses are broken because there is the risk of sudden catastrophic wall collapse. If you have cracks or bulged cracked brick walls, you need immediate professional attention.


The interlace stone layout of a stone foundation wall usually bulges and crack from frost damage rather than cracking through individual stones. Sometimes driving a vehicle near the wall can cause damage. Removing stones to pass piping or make a doorway can also cause damage. We’ll need a diagnosis of the cause, the amount of movement, and the effects on structure, so we can determine what repair is needed.


There are many clues that help diagnose the probable cause of diagonal foundation cracks in buildings. Here are some of the most common.


Some cracks extend from the corner towards an adjacent opening and open wider at the top than the bottom. Usually, these are caused by a foundation settlement, expansive clay soil, frost damage, or damage from a shrug or tree close to the wall.


Some cracks originate under a ground floor window and extend from the sill to ground with the sill bowed up. These cracks are often due to foundation heave, clay soil, frost, shallow or absent footings.


At any place in the foundation wall, the crack might be wider at the bottom than the top. This is probably caused by the settlement of the ground under the building.


If you live in a colder climate, you may have a crack in a corner of your home. Frost heave, frost lensing, shallow footings, water problems, or insufficient backfill could have caused these.


Vertical or diagonal cracks that open suddenly after rain are serious problems. They are usually caused by the settlement of the structure over sinkholes.


Sometimes straight or diagonal cracks appear over windows or doors. They could appear as horizontal along the top or bottom of the header and vertical at the ends of the header. This may be due to differences in thermal expansion between the header materials and the wall materials. These cracks could also be either vertical or diagonal at the center of the header or the corners, which is a loading failure. If the cracks are vertical or diagonal at the corners, this could be a point-load failure.



Another type of crack is a horizontal foundation crack located high on a foundation wall. These cracks can be located in the upper third of a concrete block wall if the wall is below grade. Vehicles loading usually causes these cracks. In freezing climates, they can also be caused by a combination of surface or subsurface water and frost. In northern climates, if there are cracked mortar joints in the top third of a block wall at about the same depth as the frost line in the area, frost has most likely caused the damage. We usually see evidence of this outside such as drip lines below the building eaves. This shows that there is a history of roof spillage against the building. Back inside, we might also see that the foundation damage is occurring only at the building walls below roof eaves and not at the gable ends of the home. In cold climates, frost or vehicle loading can cause these cracks.


Horizontal foundation cracks that are located at mid-wall height on a foundation masonry block or stone walls that are cracked and/or bulging inwards at middle height on the wall have probably been caused by vehicle traffic or earth loading. If there’s a driveway near the wall or if the site’s history includes the movement of heavy equipment near the wall, vehicle loading is the likely cause. Backfill damage, such as excessive height or premature backfill before the first-floor framing was in place, is another potential cause of this type of crack. If the home is located on a hillside, earth loading or earth loading exacerbated by water or frost could have caused the cracks. If your home is in an area with wet soil, earth loading or earth loading exacerbated by water or frost could still be the cause.


Next, there are horizontal foundation cracks that are located low on a foundation wall. These are caused because the forces exerted by soils against a foundation wall increase exponentially as you go from the surface level of the soil against the wall to the areas near the bottom of the wall. Essentially, earth pressure is greatest at the bottom of the wall. Because of this, we are able to distinguish between frost or water-related cracking and simple earth loading. A wall that has been laterally dislocated at or near its bottom has probably been damaged by earth loading. Horizontal dislocation of a masonry lock or brick wall may appear first as a crack and then later as a horizontal movement, as the wall is pushed inwards by earth or wet soil pressure.


In a typical raised ranch with a garage that is located in part of the basement, and with the garage entering at one end of a home, we commonly find step cracks in the front and rear foundation walls only on the garage end of the home. These cracks may correspond to some related observations:

  • There may be less backfill against the front and rear foundation walls where a garage entry is located between them.
  • The reduction in backfill combined with an unheated garage may expose these building corners to more frost damage.
  • If a building downspout or gutter defect spills roof drainage against the building wall, these forces will often combine to make more severe frost cracks appear on the garage entry end of the home.

Cracks that are poured in the concrete foundation which are diagonal or vertical are another common type of crack that we see. These cracks are generally uniform in width, or taper to an irregular hairline form and stop entirely. They are usually discontinuous in the crack’s finest or hairline area. In other words, the crack starts and stops in the same area. These are usually shrinkage cracks and are usually not ongoing or structurally significant. However, they may still cause water to enter through the wall.


For any of these cracks, the only way you can be sure of the causes or the solution is by hiring one of the foundation crack repair companies. Reliable Basement Services is your best choice for a Chicago foundation repair company with years of experience and thousands of satisfied customers! Call us today at 630-777-0539 to schedule your foundation repair.

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