Perhaps nothing creates that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach faster than the sight of a bowing basement wall. After all, we understand from childhood that walls should be straight - and when they are not, we instinctively know that something is wrong... very wrong.
Basement walls fail in different ways, depending on whether they are of the poured or block variety, but they fail for the same reason: increased pressure from the soil surrounding your home's foundation.
Your home rests on a foundation, which rests on the ground beneath it. That means, your home's foundation is only as stable as that ground. You might think that "solid" ground is just that - solid. But, the ground beneath your home is made up of many different layers of soil, each with its own properties, such as moisture content, density and material type (silt, clay, sand, gravel, etc.). Over time, these layers can shrink and consolidate, causing your home's foundation to settle and crack. In fact, depending on your home's exact geographic location, competent load-bearing soil or solid bedrock may be anywhere from a few inches to hundreds of feet below the surface. Clay soils have a tendency to absorb and retain water. When this happens, they increase in volume and weight. This expansion exerts additional pressure on your home's foundation, which can cause it to fail inward
If your basement wall is constructed from concrete blocks, you may see signs of wall failure that include:
These cracks typically start out small and increase in size over time as the soil on the other side continues to exert pressure on the wall.
As with horizontal cracks, stair-step cracks will get worse over time. These differ, however, in that they typically start at the horizontal crack and propagate out to the corners.
Top of Wall Leaning In
When the top of a basement block wall leans in, it means it has become disconnected to your home's framing. This is a serious problem that needs to be stabilized as soon as possible.
Bottom of Wall Pushing In
This happens when the bottom row of blocks remains braced by your basement's concrete floor, but the rest of the wall pushes inward. This is also known as "shearing."
If your basement wall was constructed from poured concrete, wall failure symptoms can include:
Top of Wall Leaning In
Poured foundation walls tend to be more rigid than block walls, so instead of cracking and bowing in at the middle, they more often tend to push in from the top. As mentioned above, this also indicates that the wall has lost its connection with your home's framing.
Diagonal Cracking at the Corners
Because a poured concrete wall will tend to remain supported by adjacent walls, cracks typically extend from the upper corners diagonally down towards the middle, away from that adjacent support.
This is why it is so important to repair foundation issues as soon as they become evident. Not only do they affect other parts of the structure, but they often get worse and more expensive to fix over time. In other words, your foundation issues will never be cheaper to fix than they are today.
Diagnosing and Fixing the Problem
So, you're experiencing that sinking feeling because you've discovered that one of your basement walls is cracked and bowing inward. Now what do you do? Fortunately, though bowing walls are a serious issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, ABC Foundation Services offers several solutions that will permanently fix and protect bowing walls, including:
Our installations are carried out by fully trained staff to the highest professional standards. Always on time and on budget. When you work with The Basement Pros you can expect us to live up to our name though every step of the process.
The Pros have proven results for setting exceptional standards in cost control, planning, scheduling, and project safety. We have experience that gives us a competitive advantage over others in our field.
The Basement Pros have been making homes whole and restoring their owners’ peace of mind for more than 57 years Combined experience. We’re a member of the Supportworks network — the largest collective of contractors across the United States and Canada that is committed to redefining the industry by proving that more is possible when it comes to the homeowner-contractor experience. Honesty. Transparency. Courtesy. Respect. These are the values that drive us, from the person who first takes your call to the person who shakes your hand when the job is completed to your satisfaction.
With over 57 combined years of experience and a real focus on customer satisfaction, you can rely on us for your next project. We provide a professional renovation and installation services with a real focus on customer satisfaction. Thousands of permanently stabilized Foundations designed and installed by our Pros.