Taking care of your foundation is a tricky endeavor. Because you can’t readily see most of your foundation without excavating it, it can be difficult to know when something’s gone wrong down below. The good news is that foundation damage tends to give itself away. Bowing foundation walls, for example, tend to leave a trail of symptoms behind them that can let you know when something’s gone wrong.
You don’t always have to wait for something to go wrong to reach out for professional help. Instead, cultivate a good relationship with the professional contractors in your area. If you’re able to schedule annual home inspections, you’ll have a better chance of either noticing when your foundation has taken on damage or preventing that damage from appearing in the first place.
The Problems with Your Foundation Walls
The walls of your foundation and basement are not invulnerable. They can suffer from more than one type of problem. Unfortunately, it’s dangerous to ignore all the different types of damage that can come your way. In general, the walls in your home tend to encounter problems like:
Any cracks that appear in your walls tend to form after your home has come under some kind of structural stress. Common cracks, in varying degrees of severity, include:
- Horizontal cracks – Your wall may suffer from horizontal cracks if the exterior or internal supports have come into contact with higher-than-average humidity or standing water.
- Diagonal cracks – Diagonal cracks tend to form for much the same reason horizontal cracks do. However, these cracks will be larger on one side than the other, indicating that unwanted moisture may be having a greater influence on one part of your home.
- Vertical cracks – Vertical wall cracks tend to indicate that something may be wrong with your foundation.
- Stair-step cracks – Stair-step cracks tend to form in brick and concrete block walls. You’ll be able to track these cracks by following your mortar lines. Again, these cracks tend to appear around your home when moisture has made itself present in your wall’s molding or other supports.
Bowing and Tilting
When your wall’s internal supports are exposed to some manner of external pressure, the walls themselves can begin either to bow inward or tilt in one direction or another. While this damage, when it first appears, does not always indicate that your structural supports have been knocked out of alignment, those supports can begin to shift out of place if you let the damage in question sit. Similarly, the drywall or concrete making up your walls can begin to slump, either due to oversaturation or molecular instability.
Both instances set your home up to crack or develop holes which can allow moisture to access your foundation with more ease.
Bowing Walls: Weakness in Your Foundation
The walls of your foundation in particular can start to bow for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, some force will have worked against their structural integrity and caused them to give out. Some of the forces that can have the most influence over your foundation walls include but are not limited to:
While a little bit of rain or snow won’t do damage to your home, too much can start to put a lot of pressure on your foundation. This pressure, known as hydrostatic pressure, can force your concrete foundation to change sizes on a molecular level. As your concrete expands and contracts in response to exposure to moisture—which can cause it to change temperatures and size—your foundation may start to crack to try and compensate for the stress.
Cracked foundation walls are walls that won’t be able to contend with the weight of your home. As gravity does its work, you may notice your home starting to sink. While foundation sinkage is a real and troubling problem, it may actually be the case that the walls of your foundation have started to give out in such a way that they’re slumping away from your base foundation. The good news here is that you may not have to replace your foundation slab, though you will have to go about shoring up your walls if you want to secure your foundation overall.
There is always a chance that a construction team that built your home may have used inappropriate materials or made mistakes when first constructing your home. The use of green wood, for example, can weaken your foundation walls. Similarly, failing to waterproof your foundation walls can leave concrete and drywall alike open to oversaturation.
If you think it’s a poor construction job that’s causing your foundation walls to give out, don’t fret. The good news is that, should you catch signs of damage early, you may not have to endure the trials that can come with a foundation leak. Instead, you can work with the professionals serving Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, to install wall anchors, forcing your walls back into shape.
Pests and Infestations
Animals and insects can have an equal amount of sway over the stability of your foundation walls. These critters may not, however, work in the ways you expect them to. Take rabbits, for example. No rabbit is going to try and make itself at home in your house. Instead, rabbits and groundhogs will create burrows beneath your foundation. As the soil shifts around your foundation, your walls may start to destabilize to the point where they can no longer hold up your home.
Insects like termites and carpenter ants work in more predictable ways. These critters can tear apart your walls’ wooden supports at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, the professional contractors serving Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, cannot exterminate these critters for you. They can, however, come into your home after the extermination’s done and help you restore what walls and floors have started to fail.
Signs of Additional Damage Throughout Your Foundation
It’s not always easy to determine what kind of health your foundation walls may be in. Bowing foundation walls, after all, can’t always be seen right away. You can, however, keep an eye out for other signs of damage around your property. Certain symptoms, many of which may suggest moisture damage, can help you determine when it’s time to reach out to the professionals in your area.
With that in mind, some of the clearest signs of foundation wall damage around your home include:
- Sticking doors and windows
- Cracks along your walls or near your joints
- Higher electrical bills
- Higher water bills
- Unusually high levels of humidity throughout your home
Note that these signs can also indicate that something’s gone wrong with your basement or crawl space. If you’re not sure what kind of damage you’re contending with, it’s always best to reach out to the professional contractors in your area. These parties have a long history of working on homes that have suffered from bowing foundation walls. A professional can help you identify what kind of damage you’re dealing with and how best you can go about repairing it in little to no time at all.
While DIY efforts and some elbow grease work for some projects, it’s not appropriate for others. There are some situations where DIY won’t get the job done as well as professional services will. When it comes to repairing your foundation walls, for example, you’ll want to leave the work to the professionals. Trying to fix damaged foundation walls on your own can spell serious trouble for your home’s stability, not to mention your wallet.
Repairing damaged foundation walls on your own is an expensive endeavor. Without the industry connections that many professionals in Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, have, it can be difficult to get your hands on effective wall anchors or braces. If you want those anchors to last for more than a few months, you’ll need to make sure that you have the tools and materials to repair any cracks or leaks that have appeared elsewhere throughout your foundation. You’ll need to make sure there’s no unwanted moisture getting into your space if you want your newly repaired walls to remain stable.
Unfortunately, all this work is relatively expensive. Again, the lack of professional connections on the average homeowner’s part means that purchasing specialty tools and materials can run through someone’s repair budget. You’ll also need to make sure you have the tools on hand needed for any potential excavation. When you work with a professional, comparatively, you benefit from the use of that party’s existing toolbox as well as any industry connections a contractor has already established, meaning that you’ll save money while bringing your home back into working order.
Mistakes During Installation
There’s always a chance you may make a mistake while installing wall anchors or beams throughout your foundation. Wall anchors or other repairs can be tricky to install appropriately, often looking as though they’re holding up your walls without really doing the job. If you leave a wall anchor half-attached to a foundation wall, you’ll walk away from your work assuming that your home is safe when, in reality, it isn’t.
If you assume that your foundation is secure when it really isn’t, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of trouble later down the line. Foundation damage that’s allowed to fester, after all, will only grow worse with time. In a matter of months, you may find yourself contending with serious foundation problems, to the point where you may have to call in professionals despite your monetary concerns. In these cases, the cost of your DIY can come back to bite you, as professionals will have to undo your DIY work to restore your foundation.
Repairing damaged foundation walls can seem like an off-putting challenge, especially if you’re concerned about how much the process may cost. That’s why the contractors serving Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, offer homeowners a free services quote after an initial home inspection. This quote can help you get a better idea of what repairs you may need to invest in as well as what waterproofing measures might suit you best. What should you be budgeting for when you first start considering foundation wall repair?
Repairing Your Home
Above all else, your goal when reaching out to area contractors should be to eliminate any sources of damage plaguing your foundation. If you leave this damage to sit even after installing wall anchors, for example, you’ll end up calling on area professionals again in a few months to deal with foundation sinkage.
With that in mind, make room in your repair budget to address any cracks, leaks, or other forms of damage that have cropped up in your foundation. It all depends on the type of damage, the severity, the location, and what kinds of solutions needed to repair it.
Installing Your Anchors
You should only go about installing wall anchors and other repair measures throughout your foundation after you’re certain repairs are complete. It’s here where your costs can start to fluctuate a little bit. After all, if you want to install additional home waterproofing measures like an interior drainage system and a sump pump, you may have to pay area contractors more than you would if you only wanted wall anchors.
The cost of wall anchors is more consistent. On average, you can expect a professional to place wall anchors between every six to eight feet along a damaged wall. If you’re not sure how many supports your foundation may need, ask a professional. You can calculate your preferred number of supports ahead of time and have your budget prepared as a result.
Once you’ve secured your wall anchors and cleared unwanted moisture out of your foundation, it’s time to start thinking about the future. It’s just as important, after all, to prevent moisture and other forces from destabilizing your foundation walls as it is to respond to that damage. What means can you invest in to protect your foundation walls, and which will suit your home best?
Invest In Regular Home Inspections
There’s nothing more essential to the long-term health of your home than a healthy relationship with your area contractors. You’ll want to try and have your local contractors out to your property at least once a year so that they can check on the state of your foundation, basement, or crawl space.
If you’ve had to contend with foundation wall damage in the past, this kind of relationship is even more important. The contractors serving Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, can keep an eye on their handiwork and help you get ahead of any additional damage if it looks like part of your foundation is weakening.
Waterproofing Your Basement
You’ll also want to make sure your foundation is equipped with the waterproofing measures that suit it best. There are a few different foundation wall waterproofing measures that you can take advantage of. Many of these can help increase the lifespan of your wall anchors, ensuring your walls don’t end up oversaturated as soon as it starts to rain.
Some of the most effective foundation waterproofing measures to install after you’ve shored up your foundation walls include but are not limited to:
- Sump pumps – Sump pumps rely on an electrical charge to remove water from parts of your home. You can request that professionals install one in your foundation to keep water from pooling near your walls. The more moisture you’re able to eliminate from the space, the safer your walls are going to be.
- Dehumidifiers – Commercial dehumidifiers cannot protect your foundation walls from damage. However, if you pair a non-commercial dehumidifier with other home waterproofing measures, including sump pumps and interior drains, they can help keep your walls safer than they might otherwise be. Your foundation should ideally remain at about a 55 percent humidity level. A non-commercial dehumidifier can take in what gaseous moisture might otherwise get absorbed into your walls and make sure that it can’t have a negative impact on the stability of your home.
- BasementGutter™ Interior Drain System – If you’re looking for a waterproofing measure that doesn’t require electricity to function, interior drains are your best friends. A BasementGutter™ interior drain system sees professionals connect a series of drains under your basement floor. If any water leaks in through your basement walls, this interior drainage system intercepts it and directs it to the sump pump system to be pumped out of the basement.
To explore additional home waterproofing options, get in touch with the professional contractors serving Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC.
Repairing Your Bowing Walls
Speaking of repairs, there are a few different ways professionals can go about stabilizing bowing foundation walls. These include but are not limited to:
- IntelliBrace™ Beam System – The IntelliBrace™ system gives your foundation walls the support they need after they’ve fallen victim to excessive moisture. This system can force the walls back to their original positions without compromising the aesthetic of your home. The system relies on a series of beams secured to your walls, ensuring that it remains strong.
- Carbon Fiber Wall Reinforcing Systems – Carbon fiber wall reinforcing systems use straps combined with structural epoxy to prevent your walls from bowing any further. They will not change the overall appearance of your foundation walls and can fit into a variety of nooks and crannies, in case your home has an unusual build.
- Wall Anchor Systems – If it’s the soil around your home that’s giving you problems, consider investing in wall anchors. Contractors can plant these anchors out past the unstable soil around your foundation and use them to simultaneously stabilize the walls and help move them back into place. This system takes the weight of your walls off your foundation, ensuring that your home doesn’t sink in the weeks and months to come.
Note that even after you install the systems that can force your walls back into place, you’re going to want to inspect your foundation for signs of leaks of similar damage. You’ll need to make sure that your foundation is as watertight and stabilized as possible. The better care of your foundation you take, the less likely you are to have to deal with repeat damage later down the line.
Reaching Out to Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, Professionals
Foundation damage is never fun to contend with. If you’ve never had problems with your foundation before, bowing walls can seem like an unspeakably stressful challenge to deal with. Luckily, the professionals serving Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, are well versed in foundation wall repair. If you reach out to the experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems for a free inspection, you can have a better idea of how to repair your home in no time at all. Area professionals can even provide you with a free services quote detailing how much repairs may cost as well as what waterproofing measures might help you protect your home in the future.
Don’t let your foundation get the best of you. If you think something’s wrong with your walls, get in touch with your local contractors at Tar Heel Basement Systems as soon as possible.