How do foundation cracks form on basement foundation walls?
Bowed and cracked basement walls can be a very serious sign of structural damage to the foundation. Traditional methods of addressing these issues include using wall anchors systems, steel I-beams, tiebacks, piering, and excavation.
Usually bows, cracks, bulges, and buckling basement and foundation walls happen most frequently in more established structures. However, newer constructed buildings are not immune to quickly developing settling concerns. As soil settles outside foundation walls at differing rates, it expands and contracts with seasonal freezing and thawing processes because of hydrostatic pressure in the water table.
There are several warning signs that should prompt a call to a professional for an inspection besides a bowed or cracked basement wall. The sooner a repair is made, the lower the repair expenses. The most common warning signs include:
Cracked Block Foundation – Indicates lateral pressure on the walls. Serious movement is evidenced in stair step and horizontal cracks in mortar joints.
Cracks in Poured Concrete – Typically occurs within 30 days of the concrete curing process. Usually a very simple repair. However, in combination with other signs could be a more serious sign of settlement.
Cracks in Brick Facing – Cracks can be a symptom of foundation movement. Refrain from cosmetic repairs until a professional foundation repair specialist determines the cause to minimize future expenditures and hassles.
Chimney Cracking or Leaning – Often, chimneys are built on independent footers. Therefore, cracking and leaning usually indicate movement in this particular footer. A more severe problem would be foundation movement disturbing this independent footer. A professional can determine the extent of the concern.
Drywall Cracks – Shifts in the foundation often cause other cosmetic damage inside the building. Drywall cracks around windows, doorframes, and in corners are common symptoms of significant foundation movement.
Uneven Doors and Windows – Another typical indication of foundation shifting. Shifting could cause framework to contort out of square, leading to windows and doors sticking or not opening and closing properly.
Sinking Foundation – Perhaps the most serious sign of settlement. The foundation sinks because it is separating from the building structure. This must be taken care of as soon as possible or may lead to wall collapse.