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5 Reasons Your Basement Walls Lean, Bow, Sag or Crack & What to Do

omni team working in basement

It can be a real shock to look up one day and perceive what can at first appear to be an optical illusion – is your chimney...leaning?

This is often the first warning sign a homeowner will get that there may be bigger, deeper problems, way down in the basement.

For homes lacking a chimney or other vulnerable, visible above-ground structures, bowing, sagging, leaning, sinking or cracking basement walls can be a lot harder to spot. Sometimes a homeowner might not even realize a problem exists until water floods their basement.

Because tilting, leaning, sagging or cracking basement walls are much more common than you might realize, it is really important to learn about early warning signs so you can make repairs before the problem gets worse.

What Causes Basement Walls to Lean, Bow, Sag or Crack?

Figuring out how to fix cracks in basement wall structures begins with developing a better understanding of what causes them and similar structural problems in the first place.

Several contributing factors can be present before a basement wall starts to become visibly impacted.

Hydrostatic pressure

Hydrostatic pressure is often a temporary phenomenon that develops after significant rainfall or flooding from a broken water pipe, a forgotten garden hose or similar causes.

Hydrostatic pressure is a result of trapped water in the soil that is trying to find a pathway out. Often the easiest escape route comes in the form of existing micro-fissures or small cracks in the cement of your basement walls.

As water begins to find its way in, once again hydrostatic pressure exerts its influence and causes the fissures or cracks to widen. Over time, this degradation of the wall can cause bowing, leaning, sagging or outright cracking and flooding conditions.

Soil pressure

Expansive soils such as clay can cause excess pressure to build up against one or more walls of your basement. Soils often expand after rainfall or water influx from changing water tables, lawn watering and the like.

This is why it’s important to learn all you can about the soil content surrounding your home and basement.

Clay soils can cause excess pressure because of their naturally expansive nature, while poorly graded (uniform particle size) soils can cause pressure from trapped moisture.

In either case, uneven pressure on your basement walls from the outside in can cause strange changes, from bowing (concave, convex) in the middle to leaning in or out from the floor.

Unstable soil

When the soil surrounding your home and basement is inherently unstable (which means it shifts easily), the issue causing bowed or sagging walls may have to do with your basement foundation.

Shifting soils can at times exert sufficient pressure to relocate your basement floor, such as after an earth tremor or quake, a significant flooding event or an ongoing environmental drought that leaches all the moisture out of the soil.

When the foundation floor moves, the basement walls may not move in unison with it. Walls with different structural issues can indicate it is actually the floor that is moving.

Warning Signs of Shifting Basement Walls

You may not be able to tell that your basement wall or floor is beginning to significantly shift or move from the outside looking in (or even from the inside looking out)!

But there are additional warning signs you can watch for that can signal the beginnings of basement wall issues. The earlier you can catch these developing problems, the cheaper and faster the repairs will be.

Doors or windows won’t open or close

When your doors or windows start sticking or refusing to stay closed, this can be a sign that your basement walls have begun to bow, sag or lean.

You can watch for similar signs with drawers and cabinets if you have these in your basement space. Drawers or cabinet doors that keep falling open can indicate an inward-leaning wall, while drawers that become self-closing can signal an outward-leaning wall.

Increasing humidity or signs of damp

Increasing indoor humidity is one key sign that moisture is somehow getting into your basement space. With an influx of moisture can come wall degradation as fissures or widening cracks, causing structural collapse.

Uneven or creaking floors

A creaking, bowed or sloping floor may add ambience to an antique space, but it is really not a good sign, structurally speaking.

Wall or floor cracks

Cracks appearing in walls, floors, crown moulding, windows, paint or wallpaper are another telltale indication that something is changing in the structure of your basement.

How to Fix Crack in Basement Wall Affordably

It is never easy to discover that your basement floors or walls have started to do something they shouldn’t. But leaning, bowing, sagging or cracking walls or floors can be fixed – and the earlier, the better.

All it takes is a phone call to generate a free, no-obligation inspection and estimate for making your basement repairs.

Wall anchors and braces

Wall anchors and braces offer a great way to stabilize moving walls. These nifty gadgets work a lot like braces for teeth – not only do they prevent further movement, but also, over time, appropriately installed anchors and braces actually move walls back into their proper position.

Wall reinforcers

Carbon fiber straps can be applied directly to affected walls to stabilize bowing before it gets any worse. For minimal issues, this may be all that’s needed. For more serious issues, wall straps can delay the need for additional repairs so you can save up for them.

Piers and posts

If it’s your foundation itself that is moving and taking your walls with it, then we can install piers or posts to give your floor the support it needs.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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