How to repair a crumbling concrete wall?

Owning a house comes with the responsibility of taking care of it. Buildings, especially older ones tend to develop cracks here and there, the basement walls crumbling and the driveway all falling apart; all which needs immediate attention.

Jump to the step by step guides for fixing:

Crumbling basement walls solution

Hard cracks and chips

Spalling concrete walls

Vertical cracks in retaining walls

Crumbling concrete driveway

Do-It-Yourself building repairs and modifications can be a very daunting task and not one of the most pleasant ways to spend a weekend but the transformation is always worth the effort and time. Here we’ve provided you with a simple to follow guide on how to repair your crumbling basement walls, driveways, concrete spalls as well as how to fix vertical cracks in your retaining wall.

So, go get your hands dirty this weekend, making changes and repairs to your crumbling basement or driveway and you’ll be glad you did once the work is done.

Crumbling basement walls solution

old basement walls

Having cracks, flakes or chipping on your basement walls is a lot more than mere cosmetic damages. They are most often the infant stages of potential crumbling basement walls.

As such, once these signs appear on your basement walls, you may want to start taking steps to prevent the total collapse of your basement walls.

A crumbling basement wall is not only dangerous to your family but also bad for the market if you intend to sell the house later on.

How you fix your crumbling basement wall depends on what causes the problem in the first place. There are many things that can cause your basement walls to crumble. Identifying the cause is your best solution to the problem as well as preventing future occurrences.


If you observe white flaky substances oozing out of the crumbling walls in your basement, the most likely cause of the problem is efflorescence. This often occurs as a result of poor moisture control around or within the walls of the basement.

Most times, you’ll want to create drainage to move water away from your basement after a heavy downpour as constant moisture contact with the basement walls often allow seeping and the precipitation of salts from within the walls to the surface, thereby compromising the integrity of the entire structure.

Since this problem has to do with the salts in the concrete themselves, adding another layer of concrete will not prevent the problem as the water will just seep through the extra layer again. Also repainting the walls will not help as pressure from the salt will most often peel off the paints.

Your best bet is to control moisture around your basement and then use a band-aid solution.

Step by step:

  • First off, brush off any loose material from the basement walls.
  • Wash the walls with an acidic solution (check on Amazon) to neutralize the salt completely and allow to dry for a few hours.
  • Mist the wall with water and then apply a coat of Thoroseal with a latex additive (check on Amazon). This, of course, should only be done after making repairs to the damaged part of your walls with concrete(check on Amazon).

Hard cracks and chips

cracked and cheeped wall

For crumbling basement walls which results from hard cracks and chips, there’s every chance that the underlying cause may be due to rust of the steel bars used within the walls. If these cracks occur in a very small area, you can fix the problem easily:

Step by step:

  • Locate the affected area and to dig deep with a hammer (check on Amazon) and cold chisel until the rusted steel bars are all exposed.
  • Scrape the rusts off the steel bars with a wire brush
  • Reseal the hole with new concrete. By doing this, you’ll not only end up taking care of the visible cracks but will have also prevented others from occurring in the future.

However, if the cracks and chips occur in large chunks and over the entire walls, there’s every chance that a few repairs here and there won’t save the walls. So your best option will be to replace the entire basement walls with new materials for which you can call a professional to assist you.

Concrete spalling repair methods

concrete parts broken

Spalling is a condition wherein your concrete walls begin to crack and chip off sometimes in chunks and at other times in line bits. But the cracks are definitely going to be there.

Spalling is most common in older buildings. Fortunately for you, fixing a spalling concrete basement won’t be very difficult and most times will not cost much if detected early.

The common cause of spalling is carbonation. Carbonation is the reaction of carbon(iv)oxide (found in the air) with other chemicals in the concrete. As the carbonation process goes on, the steel bars buried deep within the walls of your basement will begin to rust and expand. With no room to further expand, the steel bars crack the concrete walls for further space.

How to repair spalling concrete walls

When it comes to repairing a spalling concrete wall, early detection will go a long way to save you expensive repairs and lots of hard work.

If the cracked area is very large, you may want to consider going for a complete concrete replacement as the integrity of the structure may have already been compromised and as such repairing a single area may not be very effective.

If detected earlier and the damaged area is relatively small, you may want to work the following tips to completely repair the cracking areas as well as prevent others from occurring in the nearest future.

Step by step:

  • First off, remove any loose concrete from the affected area. You can make use of a hammer (check on Amazon) and a cold chisel to do this. Ensure all loosed concrete is removed completely and only let off when your chisel strikes a hard surface.
  • With a circular saw (check on Amazon) , make a square around the affected area. This square should enclose all the areas chipped off with the chisel and hammer. Any other area included in the square should also be chipped off and left completely bare.

Continue chipping of the loose concrete until the steel bars using in reinforcing the concrete walls are exposed.

  • Once the steel bars are exposed, brush away every concrete attached to them using a wire brush. Also, take a look at the ends of the steel bars disappearing into the walls and see if the rust runs in as well. If the rust runs in, you may want to chip the walls to the point where the rust stops.this will help prevent future spalling.
  • After brushing away the attached concrete and rush from the steel bars, you should coat them with two different anti-rust paints.
  • It’s recommended that you coat each steel bars with both paints with at least 10 minutes interval between the first and second application.
  • Time for sealing the hole! Once you’ve finished applying the second layer of coating, you should give it enough time to dry up. Then brush the exposed concrete surface with an epoxy adhesive (check on Amazon). The epoxy adhesive will help the new concrete to merge perfectly with the old one without leaving any gap for compromise.
  • You can now mix your concrete in a bucket and use a hand trowel to seal the hole with the new concrete (check on Amazon). Ensure there’s no gap between the new and old wall. You can do this by smoothing the new concrete on to the old one with the hand trowel.

You may want to keep the new surface covered with a plastic sheet for at least 48 hours to prevent the moisture from drying out too quickly. After 48 hours, spray the surface with little water to reinforce the concrete and then cover with the plastic again for a week for better hold.

Vertical cracks in a concrete retaining wall

Vertical cracked wall

A retaining wall is a structure put in place to hold the earth beneath a building from drifting away. This type of walls is mostly constructed for buildings located on hills or high-level grounds.

Most times the retaining wall will be the major part of the building’s basement and at other times, mostly the cement. It is important that cracks in the retaining walls be checked and repaired in time. When left alone, such cracks can compromise the integrity of the walls and endanger lives and properties.

The causes of cracks in retaining walls are quite numerous. Some major causes are extreme temperature fluctuations, expansive soil, non-uniform footing supports and overload.

Though not all vertical cracks in a retaining wall are dangerous, it best to repair them or call an expert to have a look at the problem especially when they suddenly occur in large chunks.

It is normal for newly built walls to have small vertical cracks. This often occurs due to shrinkage in the volume of the wall as the moisture dries out. This can be prevented by regulating the rate of evaporation by cooling the concrete with mist from time to time.

How to repair vertical cracks in retaining walls

In a long weekend, you can easily repair any vertical cracks in your retaining walls yourself. This can easily become a more tasking work if the crack runs right from the bottom of the wall to the top. We hope your case won’t be such.

While repairing vertical cracks running the height of the walls yourself won’t be impossible, its a task you may want to leave in the hands of professionals. They will need to check and ensure the crack could easily be salvaged without affecting the entire structure or if it would be more effective to break down and raise up an entirely new structure.

To fix the vertical cracks in your retaining wall, the first step is to clean the cracks and ensure there’s no loose concrete in-between the opening.

Step by step:

  • Use a wire brush (check on Amazon) to brush both ends of the walls and then try a vacuum pump to suck out all debris in between the crack.
  • Once that has been done, you may want to start mixing your mortar (check on Amazon).
  • Fill a bucket with the mortar and then use a hand trowel to apply it.
  • Do not just seal the opened sides with the mortar; ensure you fill the hole in-between the cracks and then you can smoothen the outer parts with the hand trowel.

How to fix a crumbling concrete driveway

cracked driveway

Has it been 3,5 or 10 years since you first constructed your asphalt driveway? Time tells on all things and nothing manmade lasts forever.

As a proud owner of your asphalt driveway, the responsibility of maintenance and repairs falls to you. While the repair of a driveway can prove to be a very daunting task and not one of the most pleasant ways to spend the weekend, it’s something of a necessity, something we need to get out of the way so we can enjoy the rest of the new week.

So if you’re up for the task this week, here is a quick guide on how to fix your crumbling driveway:

Step by step:

  • First off, clean the driveway properly with either a broom or a handheld vacuum cleaner to provide you with a clear working environment.
  • The next step is to clean all loose asphalt from the crumbling areas. Make use of a wire brush to brush off all loose materials. You may want to make use of the handheld vacuum cleaner again to ensure all debris is gone from the damaged area.
  • Getting rid of the loose material is very important because that will ensure the new surface you’re about applying will adhere to the old layer.
  • Once you’ve gotten rid of the loosed material, you can then apply your filler(check on Amazon).

While it’s fairly easy to repair small crumbles in your driveway, you may want to leave larger repairs for experts. This is because asphalt needs heavy machinery so it can set properly once it has been applied.

Smaller repairs can be made the same as you can patch up a pothole yourself using just a tamper and a filler.


Making home repairs is a necessity. Our homes provide us with comfort and privacy as such keeping it safe is very important. A good number of faults such as cracks in the walls of the basement or flakes on the walls are often signals of bigger problems.

As such taking care of them, the moment they appear is very important.




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