Facts to Keep in Mind Concerning Bowed Basement Walls
Basement wall bowing is a phenomenon that occurs when the walls of your basement start to bend or curve inwards. Bowed basement walls can be a serious threat to your basement and the entire house since they affect the foundation’s structure.
What causes basement wall bowing?
In most cases, wall bowing occurs as a result of hydrostatic pressure. If the earth that surrounds the walls of your basement becomes saturated with water, it expands and exerts more pressure against your basement’s walls due to its increased weight.
Increased hydrostatic pressure can be due to flooding, poor drainage around your basement, and plumbing leaks that are not fixed in good time.
Other factors that can lead to bowed basement walls include:
- Frost heaving – The soil near the basement walls swells towards the foundation due to an increased presence of ice during very cold seasons.
- Expansive clay soils – The expansive soils around the basement wall can put a lot of lateral pressure on basement walls, especially when the level of moisture in the soil increases.
- Presence of large roots near your house – Large and expanding roots near your house can cause your basement’s walls to bow due to the pressure they exert on the walls over time.
Signs that you have bowed basement walls
Sometimes, it may not be easy to spot bowed basement walls. However, you need to look for any sign that may suggest that your basement’s walls are bowing. Here are some of the signs.
- Horizontal cracks: Horizontal cracks often occur due to wall bowing. When the soil around the basement exerts a lot of lateral pressure against the basement’s walls, the walls can bow and form horizontal cracks along the affected area.
- Stair step or diagonal cracks: These cracks are also likely to form as the wall bows inwards. Stairstep cracks and diagonal cracks indicate that sections of the basement’s walls are pulling apart due to the increased pressure from outside.
- Walls that are bulging or curving inwards: You may also notice that the walls of the basement are bulging or bowing inwards. This is a clear sign that the walls are being pushed inwards by the soil that surrounds them.
What you need to do
If you see any signs of bowed basement walls, you should have a professional contractor do an inspection and repair the walls as soon as possible. If left unrepaired, basement wall bowing can continue and lead to notable structural damage.
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