Horizontal cracks or cracks in the shape of stair steps in basement walls are typically the result of issues that are creating lateral pressure on a basement wall. Common causes of these types of basement wall cracks include backfilling soil too soon after the concrete foundation was poured, hydrostatic pressure which can be identified by a powdery substance on the walls known as efflorescence which is a sign that there’s a moisture issue, ground freeze-thaw cycles known as frost heaving, and pressure from vehicles parked too close to the foundation.
It’s important to get horizontal and stair-step cracks, as well as vertical and diagonal cracks, inspected and addressed as soon as possible by a professional. These cracks can impact the structural integrity of a home’s foundation and can leak if waterproofing isn’t installed. Learn more about cracks in basement walls and what can be done to remediate the causes.