Signs Of Cracks In Your Foundation
Let’s start by examining the signs of potential cracks in the foundation. You can look for them around your house and take pictures.
Have you seen:
- Any type of wall cracks? Horizontal or stair-step cracks are common when a foundation wall tilts or bows. If your foundation wall is made from concrete blocks, you might notice diagonal cracking between individual blocks.
- Tilting? A foundation wall will lean in when the top of the wall is being pushed inward by soil pressure.
- Bowing ? This happens when part of the wall has weakened and is being pushed inward.
Causes Of Cracked And Bowing Basement Wall
Bowing and cracked foundation walls are usually caused by the expansion of soils and hydrostatic pressure. When the clay soil around the foundation absorbs water, it expands and pushes against your foundation – this is referred to as hydrostatic pressure. When the force exceeds the strength of the wall, after a few years eventually the wall cracks or breaks. As the soil dries, it pulls away from your foundation walls, creating weak areas. When the soil around the foundation swells with moisture again, this causes further weakening and inward movement.
This pressure can be increased by heavy rain, poor drainage, inadequate grading and expansion due to frost, and large tree roots.This is especially true for our Washington DC metro area where we get heavy rains and some frost. Other structures, such as a driveway or porch can also put pressure on your foundation walls and cause damage.
Horizontal cracks, or water leaking through the foundation walls are early signs of increased hydrostatic pressure on your basement walls. If these problems are ignored, your walls will eventually fail.
How To Repair A Cracked And Bowing Basement Walls?
A Bowed basement or foundation wall can be straightened but often requires excavating the foundation, lifting the weight of the structure off the wall, and reinforcing the wall inside.
The pressure from the soil or porch surrounding the cracked wall needs to be removed in order to assure an effective repair. The excavation process is lengthy and costly but will expose the exterior wall of the foundation so it can be waterproofed after the cracks are repaired.
The bowed wall inside the house in the basement will also be repaired. Cracks need to be filled and walls will be waterproofed with a scellant to keep humidity out. The degree of the bowing will dictate the extent of fixing needed. If a concrete wall is still within tolerance in its current condition it can be reinforced without straightening and beams will be erected in a fashion that provides lateral concrete support.
Repairing the foundation of a house can cost as little as $350 for an individual crack to $1,350 for multiple cracks. However, the total cost can be as high as $20,000 or more if you’re also dealing with major structural problems. Foundation repair cost depends on the type of foundation as well as the type, extent, and severity of the problem.
Leaving it untouched or ignoring it might be tempting, remember that untreated, these cracks will continue to worsen, leak, and affect negatively both the structural integrity and the resale value of your home.