Basement Wall Failure: Causes & Issues
How Moisture & Soil Composition Contribute To Foundation Failure
Foundation walls that fail can lead to a wide variety of issues for your home. The open pathways in the walls can be a pathway for flooding water, pests, odors, and humidity. Bowing walls can lead to cracks in drywall, loss of property value, and the potential collapse of the structure.
If your home is experiencing foundation damage or failure of any type, we can help!
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What Causes Basement Wall Failure?
When external pressure on your foundation walls exceeds their capacity to resist it, they will begin to bow in the middle, tilt in along the top, and/or slide in along the bottom.
Foundation walls most commonly fail for two reasons:
Water flooding on muddy clay soils
Poor slope or drainage around a building causes surface water to drain away slowly, thereby increasing water infiltration next to the foundation.
Increased soil moisture conditions increase hydrostatic (water) pressures on basement walls.
If the combined hydrostatic pressure and earth pressure (exerted by the surrounding soil) on the wall exceed the wall's design capacity, the wall will crack, bow, lean, or shear.
This type of pressure may be partially reduced by proper grading of soils, maintaining gutters, and extending downspouts. However, any foundation damage should be professionally inspected.
dry, cracked clay soils
Clay soils are considered expansive when they have the capacity for extreme volume changes with fluctuations in water content. This most commonly occurs during the rainy seasons in the local areas.
In short, expansive clays swell when wetted and shrink when dried. Expansive, swelling clays against basement walls can exert lateral pressures on the walls of the magnitude of several tons per square foot!
This type of damage will only get worse as the foundation continues to buckle under the pressure, and is most cost-effectively dealt with during an early stage.
model of a foundation push pier installation
Horizontal Wall Cracks
Horizontal foundation wall cracks are potentially very serious problems that can sometimes lead to the complete failure of the foundation walls.
These cracks occur when pressure builds against the side walls and forces them inwards. Given time, this pressure can snap the walls, creating an enormous and devastating problem.
Foundation Wall Cracks
Foundation wall cracks can easily get worse if they're left untreated, especially in the case of cinder block wall foundations. Any crack or opening in the foundation at all can become a passageway for water to enter.
Because the foundation wall is literally cracked through, the gap will continue to worsen as the walls move and become influenced by pressure from outside the walls.
One crack in the foundation walls will lead to another, and no crack will ever improve on its own. All cracks should be repaired if they're allowing water through, and even a hairline crack can be evidence of a larger problem and should be inspected by a professional immediately.
Free Quotes For Foundation Repair
If you detect any cracks like this along your foundation walls, you should call Worldwide Waterproofing & Foundation Repair for a free, professional foundation estimate.
Many options are available for bowing foundation walls (such as wall anchors) that will reinforce your wall, prevent the inward movement of the walls, and redistributing the load to where it can be better handled.