Bowing basement walls can be an indicator of serious foundation problems, but can sometimes be difficult to spot. Foundation walls often move inward due to expansive soils and hydrostatic pressure, both of which place constant pressure on your foundation, crawl space, or basement walls. This pressure forces them to bow, buckle, or bulge inwards.
How do you know if you’re in need of a basement or foundation wall repair?
Here are some key signs that your bowing basement walls are in need of repair:
- Horizontal cracks or stair-step foundation wall cracks
- Signs of inward movement, bulging or buckling foundation walls
- Walls leaning at the top or sliding in at the bottom
- Presence of expansive clay soils
- Evidence of hydrostatic pressure
Before searching for repair solutions, it’s important to understand what’s causing your basement, crawl space, or foundation walls to bow. When you know the root cause of your foundation damage, you can find the best, most permanent solution for repair.
With that said, the most common cause of bowing basement and foundation walls is unstable soil. Soil places constant pressure on your foundation walls—though the extent of this pressure can vary depending on soil conditions. The following soil conditions can cause excess pressure on your foundation walls:
- Excess moisture and oversaturation: Poor exterior drainage and faulty gutters and downspouts can lead to the oversaturation of the soil surrounding your foundation. When soils become oversaturated, they can exert a force on your foundation walls known as hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure not only causes walls to buckle and bow—it can also cause water damage and basement leaks.
- Expansive clay soils: The type of soil we have here in Northern Georgia is known as Georgia Red Clay. It’s an expansive soil, meaning that it expands under wet conditions and shrinks in drought. This means that proper exterior drainage is even more important to preventing bowing foundation walls.
- Frost heave: In the winter, soils fluctuate between freezing and thawing. When freezing temperatures penetrate the ground, moisture in the soil forms ice structures. These ice structures force the soil to shift, thus causing foundation wall movement.
How Do You Fix a Bowing Basement Wall?
At AquaGuard, our preferred method of bowing wall repair is installing foundation wall anchors. Our Wall Anchor system straightens walls by anchoring to stable, hard-packed soil beyond your home and bracing the foundation wall. This stops the inward movement entirely. Then, over time, these anchors can be tightened to move your foundation walls back to their original position.
Wall Anchors Advantages:
- Made with galvanized steel to prevent corrosion
- Include a 25-year warranty against manufacturing defects, as well as an in-house quality and performance warranty
- Hide-A-Way™ None help conceal wall anchor access points
Other Ways to Fix Bowing Basement Walls
In situations where the yard outside of a home is not accessible, it may not be possible to install a wall anchor system. At AquaGuard Foundation Solutions, we install our IntelliBrace™ Foundation Wall System when wall anchors aren’t an option.
The SettleStop tighten bowing basement, foundation, and crawl space walls. The IntelliBrace™ is an I-beam system that has several advantages over traditional “old school” systems, including its rust-resistant zinc coating and design.
What NOT To Do When Repairing Bowing Walls
A foundation repair is a big job—something you definitely want to do only once! When you’re repairing your foundation, beware of expensive options that will not actually fix your bowing wall problem—and watch out for quick solutions that just don’t work. When dealing with bowing walls, total foundation replacement may be suggested. To undertake a job like this, you have to excavate the entire perimeter of your foundation—including gardens, shrubbery, sidewalks, and other landscaping. Next, the house is jacked up, and the floor slab and foundation walls are removed. Finally, the foundation is rebuilt, the house is repositioned, and the soil is replaced.
This solution is extremely disruptive, expensive, and time-consuming. What’s worse, it’s not really addressing the issue. Your foundation isn’t the problem—the soil is! When you’re done building that brand new foundation, you can count on the soil to damage it just like it did before. If you’re going to invest money in repairing your foundation, choose the solution that is not disruptive and will be warrantied for the life of the structure.
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