Finishing your basement? Which cracks to fix?
People ask us all the time when they’re finishing the basement which cracks are the most important to be fixed. Should we just fix the big ones? What about the cracks that have never leaked?
The simplest answer: repair all of them. We can’t predict which cracks are going to be an issue in the future and which ones are not. In our experience, there is no correlation between the size of crack and how much water it will let in. We have repaired hairline cracks that have let in so much water that a shop vac had a hard time keeping up. Conversely, we have had cracks wide enough to see daylight through that have never leaked.
When dealing with concrete in our climate, there is also the freeze/thaw cycle to consider – just ask the City of Edmonton about this cycle’s impact on our roads! Even with no signs of leaking, a foundation crack can hold moisture. When this moisture freezes, it expands, forcing the crack slightly wider. Over time, if water is allowed to continually freeze and thaw inside the crack, the possibility of water intrusion will increase as the crack widens.
Any crack has the potential for water intrusion. The most cost-effective and least disruptive time to repair a crack is prior to covering it with studs, insulation and drywall. The best approach in this situation is to be proactive and save yourself any chance of future headaches.