Q.: What causes cracks near the ends of basement walls? These cracks start at the top, about a foot from each end, and run down at an angle all the way to the bottom. I say this happened in backfilling, because there is also a vertical crack at the center of the wall. This crack is wider on the inside face of the wall, but the others are wider on the outside.

A.: These are typical backfilling cracks. After the forms are stripped the walls should be braced when they are 3 to 5 days old. On walls 24 to 30 feet long the brace should be a piece of 2- by 8-inch or larger plank well-secured against the center of the wall. Walls 30 to 50 feet long would require two such braces located at the third-points, and 60-foot walls, three such braces at the quarter-points. In addition, backfill operators must use good judgment and operate their equipment with caution.