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Bowing Walls

Foundation walls move inward primarily due to expansive soils and hydrostatic pressure on the walls from outside. However, foundation walls may also crack due to many other outside causes, including foundation settlement.

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closeup of bowing wall gap

It’s not easy staying on top of every aspect of your home. You’ll want to try to keep an eye on your foundation, though, if you want to better retain your home’s overall value. The good news is that your foundation’s bowing or buckling walls will give themselves away. If you notice something wrong with the structural integrity of your home, or if it seems like you’re taking in an unusual amount of moisture, you can reach out to area professionals for guidance. Together, you can inspect your foundation for signs of damage and go about repairing it accordingly.

Understanding Why Walls Bow 

Several forces can impact the overall structural integrity of your walls. You’ll want to try and determine what force may be causing problems with your walls so that, as you explore your potential repairs, you can take care of the crack, leak, or other damage that’s allowing unwanted moisture into your home. 

Some of the most common forces behind your bowing walls include: 

Hydrostatic Pressure 

Hydrostatic pressure is a force that can act against not only your foundation but any external concrete structures you may have on your property. This pressure generates when water starts to gather in the ground around these types of structures. This water can change the temperature of the concrete and cause it to change size on a structural level. As the concrete warms and cools, it can begin to crack from the stress of these rapid changes. 

Naturally, damage caused by hydrostatic pressure tends to worsen over time. The cracks that this pressure can cause allows more moisture into your home, meaning that your belongings, pipes, and supports may be at risk. However, you can limit the impact this type of pressure has on your home by installing home waterproofing measures before any damage has an opportunity to appear. In failing to do so, you’ll want to try and get as much moisture out of your home as you can before and after investing in repairs. 

Poor Construction 

Everyone can make a human mistake. The construction team that built up your home, for example, may have used inappropriate materials or out-of-date methods to build up your foundation’s walls. In this instance, then human error may be responsible for your bowing walls. 

If this is the case, then you have a few different repair options available to you. Wall anchors and similar supports can help you shore up your walls again. However, it may be in your best interest to repour your foundation walls after replacing any green or damaged wood with stronger supports. 

Foundation Damage 

More often than not, a problem with your foundation can cause problems for the rest of your home. As such, bowing foundation walls, basement walls, or crawl space walls can serve as indicators of some larger damage in and around your home. 

Hydrostatic pressure can cause some significant foundation damage. However, other forces can destabilize your slab. These include:  

Insects and Pests 

Animals and insects alike can go to town on your foundation’s structural supports if given half the chance. Termites and carpenter ants, for example, will readily make a meal of any wooden supports they can access. 

Similarly, rabbits, groundhogs, and other burrowing animals can pose a threat to your foundation. These critters can dig burrows up to 45 feet long. The animals themselves won’t threaten your home’s structural integrity, but those burrows will destabilize the soil beneath your home. In doing so, they can cause your foundation to begin sinking prematurely. In turn, your walls can start to bow, your floor can start to buckle, and you may find yourself facing a leak as well. 

Unfortunately, foundation, basement, and crawl space repair professionals cannot help you get rid of any critters that start to do damage to your home. However, you can collaborate with both area exterminators and an engineering team to first remove the pests from your property and then go about fixing the damage they may have left behind. 

Tree Roots 

Tree roots can disrupt the structural integrity of the soil beneath your home. While tree roots do not leave burrows behind, they still break up concentrated soil. In doing so, these roots make it easier for your foundation to start sinking prematurely. 

If you want to get ahead of tree-related foundation damage, you’ll want to work with your area landscapers and nursery representatives. Ideally, you’ll want to make sure that all the trees in your yard are at least 20 feet away from the perimeter of your home. If you’ve planted a tree closer, or if you’ve purchased a property with trees too close to your home, you can trim the roots, relocate the tree in question, or otherwise remove the tree from your property.

Identifying Bowing Walls 

As mentioned, it’s not always easy to keep an eye on the state of your foundation. Luckily, foundation damage, including bulging or bowing walls, tends to give itself away. These conditions tend to force other signs of damage to pop up through the rest of your home. Examples of those giveaways can include:  

  • Stair-step cracks outside of your home 
  • Horizontal or diagonal cracks inside of your basement or crawl space 
  • Walls sliding inwards on the bottom 
  • Walls leaning in at the top 
  • Visibly wet soil around the perimeter of your home 
  • Gaps between your ceiling and the walls 
  • Sagging floors 

Note that these signs can also indicate more significant foundation damage than just wall bowing. You can reach out to a contractor and schedule a home inspection to get a better idea of what kind of damage you may be contending with.

Reacting to Bowing Walls 

If you or a professional determine that your foundation’s walls have started to buckle or bow, you’ll need to act quickly to get them back into proper shape. You never want to let this damage sit. If you do, you risk not only devaluing your entire home but also putting your family’s health at risk. 

Instead, you’ll want to determine what repairs may best suit your foundation. Professionals in your area can provide you with a free quote stating what repairs may be available to you, including support installations and other means. Once you’ve selected the means that best suit your needs and budget, you’ll be able to move forward and cut off the source of moisture that’s damaging your home. 

Again, you will always want to make sure that you repair the damage to your home before you invest in any waterproofing or other protective measures. If you install these measures without conducting repairs, then you risk further damaging both your home and those repairs in little to no time at all.

Installing Wall Anchors and Other Supportive Solutions 

After you’ve repaired the cracks, leaks, or other moisture-oriented damage in your foundation, you can go about re-securing your walls. The methods through which you do this can vary based on your interests. However, it is often in your best interest to consider what wall anchor systems can do for you. 

Wall anchor systems consist of small anchors that you can attach along a damaged wall to help pull your wall back into its original position. The IntelliBrace™ Wall Repair System is even compatible with accessory cases, allowing you to better blend the anchors into your existing aesthetic if you so desire. 

To install wall anchors around your bowing or bulging walls, professionals will: 

  • Dig out holes for the anchors to rest in and/or excavate your foundation. 
  • Secure a support rod in your foundation wall. 
  • Attach the support rod to an anchor. 
  • Mount a wall plate. 
  • Replace any displaced landscaping. 
  • Tighten your anchors. 

Note that there may be times when wall anchors may not be able to do your bowing walls justice. In these cases, you can work with area professionals to determine whether or not it is in your best interest to re-pour the walls in your foundation, basement, or crawl space, or if another repair method would be more appropriate.

The Cost of Bowing Wall Repair

IntelliBrace Wall Repair

Many homeowners find themselves reluctant to take on foundation wall repair for fear of how much those repairs may cost them. Really, it all depends on how severe the damage is, the location of that damage, and the types of repair solutions used to fix the issues. The good news is that the initial inspection that professionals can conduct throughout your home comes with a free services quote. Before you determine what repairs you may want to invest in, you can look over this quote and see if there aren’t more affordable solutions available to you. 

Coming up with an estimate on your own can be a bit challenging. Even if you find yourself balking at the cost, though, you’ll want to consider just how much more expensive eventual repairs may be if you let this kind of damage sit. The longer you allow water damage to work on your home, the more severe the damage to your foundation is going to be. You’ll have to invest in repairs sooner rather than later if you want to retain your home’s overall value and protect your family’s health.

Bowing Walls

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Even if you have a home repair budget in place, you may still find yourself tempted to explore alternative means of wall repair that may help you save money. DIY projects, in particular, can seem appealing to homeowners who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. Taking on DIY bowing wall repair, however, can often prove to be more trouble than it’s worth.  

  • Additional Damage 

If you don’t have experience conducting home repairs, then trying to shore up your bowing walls can be a fruitless effort. If you’re not sure why your walls are bowing, for example, you may try to invest in a sub-standard brace or similar supportive solution that merely masks the problem you’re contending with. 

Failing to address the true cause of damage around your home can spell trouble for you in the long run. While, in the short-term, it may appear as though you’ve stabilized your walls, the reality will be much different. Water damage that you allow to fester in your home can eventually destabilize your foundation, causing it to shift, sink, and put the safety of your family at risk. When you work with a professional, alternatively, you can not only use the appropriate repairs to bring your walls back up, but you can also address the damage allowing unwanted moisture into your home.  

  • Additional Costs 

It can also be far more expensive to try and repair bowing walls on your own than it may be to work with a professional team. Professional teams, after all, often already have the tools they need on hand to figure out what’s going wrong in your home and how best to respond to it. When you try to take on this kind of project without any guidance, comparatively, you’ll have to research potential solutions on your own before investing in single-use tools. 

The materials you need to repair a bowing wall, from drywall to wall anchors, can also cost you a pretty penny. Contractors, more often than not, are familiar with their industry peers and may have arranged deals with those manufacturers. Comparatively, you’ll have to go to the market to find not only drywall but any anchors or waterproofing measures that you want to install around your home. When the final bill comes knocking on your door, you may find yourself surprised by how much money you ended up spending. Compare that to the labor and material costs that professionals charge you for, and it may be in your budget’s best interest for you to work with established industry experts.

It is possible to get ahead of wall damage. If you’re looking to prevent these kinds of destabilizing conditions from appearing in the first place, you can:  

  • Schedule Regular Home Inspections 

Most homeowners tend to ignore their basement, crawl space, and foundation until something goes wrong. While that’s entirely understandable, you’ll want to start scheduling regular home inspections if you want to prevent any damage from appearing in the first place. 

The professionals in your area can help you walk through your home at least once a year with an eye out for moisture damage. With a checklist of symptoms in mind, you can inspect your basement, crawl space, and home exterior for signs of damage that might cause your walls to bow. This way, you can work to prevent that damage from worsening in the weeks and months to come. 

  • Invest in Home Waterproofing Measures 

You also have the option to invest in home waterproofing measures before any signs of damage appear in your home. These measures come in a variety of forms, including:  

  • Sump pumps 
  • Interior drains 
  • Full crawl space encapsulations with a vapor barrier 
  • Waterproof insulation 
  • Dehumidifiers 

Most home waterproofing measures deliberately drive water away from the perimeter of your home, helping you prevent hydrostatic pressure and moisture, in general, from making a mess of your structural supports. That said, no home waterproofing measure is permanent. As such, you’ll want to continue to schedule annual inspections with your local professionals to ensure that all the measures in your home remain in top shape.

Repair Your Bowing Walls with Help from Innovative Basement Authority Professionals 

If you find yourself contending with bowing foundation walls, there’s no reason to stress. You can reach out to the Innovative Basement Authority professionals in your area to schedule an inspection ASAP. Together, you can determine what kind of damage has appeared in your home and how best you can attend to it. At the same time, you can discuss what kind of home waterproofing measures can help you get ahead of this kind of damage in the future. 

Reach out today for help with an immediate problem or for a free quote on the protective services you may need.

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