Your house’s structural integrity is critical for your family’s safety and for the protection of your property. Given that the basement forms part of a building’s foundation, signs of bowing basement walls should be a major cause of concern. If left unrepaired, bowing basement walls can develop serious cracks and cause the basement to become a major safety risk.
Basement wall bowing is largely caused by lateral and hydrostatic pressure that is exerted on the basement wall. Five causes of the lateral and hydrostatic pressure that leads to basement wall bowing and the solutions to this problem are discussed below.
Causes of bowing basement walls
- Heavy rains
Heavy rains cause the soil to swell as it absorbs water. The excess water in the soil increases the hydrostatic pressure that the soil exerts on the walls of the basement. If the pressure being exerted on the walls is too much, it can cause the walls to start curving inwards.
- Leaks in the plumbing system
Water leakages in the plumbing system can look harmless. But if the leaks are not fixed immediately, they can lead to significant accumulation of moisture in the basement and in the soil that surrounds the basement wall. This can cause the basement walls to bulge and start bowing as a result of increased hydrostatic pressure.
- Tree roots
Trees planted close to a house, especially those with dense roots, can cause notable basement wall damage. The damage occurs as the roots expand and increase the lateral pressure that the soil exerts on the foundation and basement walls. Combined with hydrostatic pressure as a result of soil moisture, this can lead to bowing or buckling of the basement walls.
- Poor landscape grading
A poorly graded landscape can cause surface runoff to flow towards the foundation, resulting in damages such as basement wall bowing.
- Heavy patios or driveways
Patios and driveways that have been constructed using heavy materials can increase the amount of pressure that is exerted on a nearby building’s foundation. Consequently, the building’s basement walls will start to bend over time.
How to fix bowing basement walls
Various methods can be used to fix bowing basement walls, as explained below.
- Wall anchors: Wall anchors help in balancing the weight of a bowing wall to prevent further bending.
- Use of carbon fiber: Carbon fiber has high tensile strength and can, therefore, be used to reinforce a bowing wall.
- Wall bracing: This involves the use of steel structures to reinforce the wall.