How to Identify and Repair Horizontal Foundation Cracks

Horizontal cracks could seriously threaten your home’s stability. Here’s how to quickly identify and repair them.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Horizontal foundation cracks are a very serious structural problem caused by earth movements or poor installation. You can identify cracks when inspecting the foundation, walls, and floors. Some cracks can be repaired yourself, but horizontal cracks usually require professional assistance.
Causes vary for horizontal and vertical foundation cracks, as do the repair methods needed. Horizontal cracks are typically the more serious variety. 
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Causes of foundation cracks

The two main causes of foundation cracks are normal earth movement and poor installation.
Mother Nature is responsible for many foundation cracks. More than 50% of American homes are built on unstable soil like clay, and in this type of soil, a foundation could move two to three inches every season due to regular shifting.
A poorly installed foundation could also be to blame. An installation requires appropriate drainage. It also needs a certain cure time to avoid swelling and cracking. If your foundation was not installed correctly—or if it is extremely old—it could crack.

Vertical vs. horizontal foundation cracks

Some cracks are more dangerous than others. Let’s learn about the two basic types, vertical and horizontal foundation cracks, and review diagonal cracks, map cracks, and spalling cracks.

Vertical cracks

These cracks run up and down relative to your walls and foundation. They are also called shrinkage cracks because vertical cracks are most often caused by concrete shrinkage. Vertical cracks usually appear in the middle of walls with a width less than ⅛ inch. 
Here’s the good news: vertical cracks are less serious and easier to fix than horizontal ones. You may even be able to patch the crack yourself! However, more than one crack is bad news. Hire a professional if you see more than one vertical crack.

Horizontal cracks

Horizontal cracks run parallel to the floor and are normally caused by water pressure or soil movement. Unfortunately, horizontal cracks are the worst type of foundation crack. 
If you see horizontal cracks, it could be a sign that your foundation’s integrity has been compromised and your home is becoming unstable. Horizontal cracks could expose your slab to even more damage, possibly triggering a collapse. 
You should get horizontal cracks examined and repaired ASAP by a trained professional.

Foundation crack repair

Not all cracks should send you running to the phone to call in a professional. 
Tiny vertical cracks can be patched at home, for instance. You can find an
epoxy crack injection kit
for about $75 a cartridge at most home and hardware shops. Textured acrylic caulk is a good solution for cosmetic vertical cracks.
How do you repair a horizontal foundation crack? Fixing a horizontal crack in the foundation may require more extensive repairs. You should bring in a foundation crack repair specialist. Professionals may charge about $400 to administer a crack injection. 
Large cracks may require a structural engineer to assess the foundation’s integrity and make a plan for repairing it.

Do you need to repair your crack?

The simplest test to see if your crack is large enough to require repair is to try to fit a dime into the crack, whether it’s vertical or horizontal. If you can fit the coin in, then it needs to be repaired. 
Cracks can be cosmetic or structural. You can repair cosmetic cracks quickly and relatively cheaply yourself. Structural cracks are more troublesome since they threaten the stability of your home. 
Step one is to mark the cracked spots and monitor them for several months to see if the cracks grow. If you notice cracks growing larger over time, this is a strong indication of underlying structural problems. These should be repaired immediately.
If you’re not sure how serious your situation is, it’s best to hire a professional to make an assessment. 

Repair methods for horizontal foundation cracks

Carbon fiber crack repair is a common type of repair process for small horizontal foundation cracks. With this method, epoxy and polyurethane are bonded to the wall to stabilize the area. 
Hands-on homeowners can buy a DIY kit at their local hardware store, but there’s no shame in hiring a professional.
Some types of damage require more extreme measures—like lifting the house to repair the foundation. This will cost $3,000 at a minimum, and larger houses may cost upwards of $20,000 to lift.
But whatever the price, foundation repairs are absolutely worth it to protect the integrity of your home. 

Does home insurance cover foundation cracks?

In some cases, home insurance could cover foundation cracks. 
To be covered by your policy, the crack must have been directly caused by a named peril. 
Named perils
usually include incidents like fires, windstorms, and airplane crashes. Earth movements are not typically a named peril in most homeowners policies.

Home insurance options

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