Bowed walls are more than just unsightly—they can allow moisture as well as bugs into the basement. When you step into your basement and see a wall bowing outward, it should raise an alarm. Basements with bowed block walls may indicate a large separation between two layers of the blocks where the bowing has occurred. Concrete and stone walls can bow as well—and all types of bowed walls can mean structural failure.
A bowing problem could be a result of poor structural design, but often it is caused by excessive lateral pressure from the soil surrounding and underneath the home. Why does the soil do this? Inadequate drainage, too much soil compaction and poor waterproofing all can contribute to the pressure that leads to bowed walls.
Homes without gutters and downspouts that divert rainwater away from the home and its foundation can contribute to an oversaturation of the soil near the foundation. Clay soils are especially expansive and swell when saturated. The expanded soil mass pushes, exerting pressure on the basement walls. When the soil eventually dries, it shrinks. This continual expansion and contraction of soil pressure can create weak spots in the foundation structure and cause bowing walls and other cracks in the walls, flooring and ceilings of your home.
For bowing walls caused by inadequate drainage or other water issues, solutions may include installing a new drainage system as well as a waterproofing system. Waterproofing foundation walls can help protect against further water damage that may lead to foundation stabilization issues. Olshan offers both a high quality drainage system installation and waterproofing.
If your home has bowing walls, it should be inspected by a foundation engineer and repair specialist. Foundation inspections are important to help determine the appropriate course of action to treat the issue. Foundation damage that includes any wall movement or structural instability must be addressed. Call a foundation repair specialist to determine the best solution.