Originally Posted by slownsteady
pics almost always help....
Is this an exterior wall? Is your basement fully underground or just partially. Any signs or scents of moisture down there? And quite importantly, are the cracks near seams in the drywall or do they appear in the middle of sheets (hint: most drywall is 4' x 8' sheets)?
Most of the cracks are on exterior walls. A few are on interior/on the support beam.
The basement is mostly underground but not completely. Mercifully, no signs of moisture yet.
Now that you have pointed it out, a lot of the horizontal crack runs about 4' off the ground - a bit higher in some places and a bit lower in others. I can't really see any rhyme or reason on the vertical splits, though. Some are quite close together, others are very far away. Some of the cracks look like they are perfectly following seams, others aren't as clean.
Originally Posted by mudmixer
You are just renting, so tell the owner about your observations. He may appreciate a comment.
Actually, a basement wall carries very little vertical load (even when fully occupied with a few feet of snow on the roof) is terms of stress. It is there to provide support for flooring and walls, and keep out the soil, but still not significant.
Any heavy soil loads would cause horizontal cracks in a wall (usually in the lower 1/2 or 2/3's of the wall). These are called shear cracks.
I've informed the homeowners, but they don't sound like they're in a big hurry to investigate. I took some photos of where things are currently for liability purposes - I will try to figure out sharing a few here to see if that helps.
It sounds like you may be on to something, but I then wonder why some of the interior walls are cracking as well - wouldn't that affect only exterior walls?