Foundation walls, despite being made of very strong materials like poured concrete, concrete block, or stone, can be compromised to the point where the structural integrity of the foundation is at risk. This damage can come in many forms: a foundation wall that is leaning in at the top, bowing in the middle, or a wall with a lot of cracks that are significant in size.
Other companies might propose just repairing the cracks or you might be tempted to do it yourself. Because the discussion of a foundation that has structural damage can be a difficult one, it is important that you trust the company you hire.
Midwest Waterproofing will educate you on the problem and offer cost-effective ways to solve it. We’ll inspect the property and work with you to make sure you are satisfied from beginning to end.
If you have a poured concrete foundation, the most common type of foundation in our service area, there are two common symptoms of structural damage that need more than a waterproofing solution to repair.
The first is a foundation wall that is out of plumb and leaning in at the top. This is typically accompanied by 4-5 cracks or more, across the affected wall. This situation is caused by over-saturation of the expansive soil on the outside of the foundation. The clay soil expands when saturated and can expand even more during the winter when it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous lateral pressure on the foundation wall, causing it to crack and lean in at the top and even sliding out from under the floor structure above. If this symptom is left untreated, the foundation wall could fail, causing the structure above to become damaged.
The second typical symptom of structural foundation damage is a horizontal crack in the middle third of the wall where it is bowing in. The foundation wall will often have other diagonal cracks as well. This issue is also caused by over-saturation of the expansive clay soil, putting excessive lateral pressure on the foundation wall. A foundation wall with this type of damage can structurally fail and cause severe damage to the structure above.
The two symptoms listed above, depending on how much the foundation has been pushed in, can be corrected without going through the costly task of replacing the foundation. If the foundation wall is leaning or bowing in two inches or less, carbon fiber is a minimally invasive, cost-effective solution. If the foundation wall is pushed in more than two inches but less than four inches, steel wall braces are a great solution. If the foundation wall is pushed in more than four inches, we typically recommend excavating and straightening the foundation wall.
Concrete block foundations are also susceptible to extreme lateral pressure caused by over-saturation of the expansive soil. In the case of concrete block foundation walls, they typically will crack horizontally with step cracking of the mortar joints at either end of the affected wall. The foundation wall will then bow inward along that horizontal crack and may be accompanied by the second course of block sliding in on top of the bottom course, which is kept in place by the basement floor.
Carbon fiber is a great solution for a bowed concrete block foundation wall as long as the bowing is less than two inches and there is no horizontal shifting of the concrete blocks.
If the bowing is more than two inches or lateral shifting of the blocks is present, the foundation wall can be stabilized with steel wall braces. If the foundation wall is bowed greater than four inches, the wall is typically excavated and straightened, which may or may not including rebuilding a portion of the concrete block wall depending on the circumstances.
If you are experiencing any of these foundation structural problems, contact Midwest Waterproofing for a free consultation. Our experienced staff can help diagnose the problem and offer a permanent, cost-effective solution that is right for your situation. Want more information about basement foundation repair? Stop by our Education Center.