So, with all the rain that we have been having, now would be a great time to open that squeaky basement door, creep down the stairs and see what horrors await you with regards to your foundation walls.
What exactly is it you are looking for?
Well, water leaking in for one thing; cracks in the wall for another.
Be sure to pay special attention to horizontal cracks in your basement and for that matter, in your retaining walls outside.
So what is the big deal about your foundation walls? After all, you checked them out 3 years ago and they were fine…
Well, when poor drainage allows water to flow into the soft, non-compacted fill dirt around your basement walls, tremendous hydrostatic pressures are created. As time passes, your basement walls may crack and start to cave in.
If your cement block foundation walls have horizontal cracks or your retaining walls are leaning you should have them checked by a foundation repair expert or structural engineer right away.
Right away as in immediately…
When retaining walls are plumb, gravity helps to hold the wall in place. If the retaining wall leans, even a little bit, gravity then starts to pull the wall over. As if that weren't enough, the more it leans the more gravity will pull it.
If any of your foundation walls have small horizontal cracks, less than ¼” wide, the walls can be reinforced with carbon fiber. This involves epoxy welding fiber strips vertically across the face of the blocks to prevent the wall from bowing in. The carbon fiber acts like super strong barrel staves.
If the walls have bowed to the point that the cracks are larger than ¼” a professional should install 5”x5” steel beams properly bolted to the floor system at the top and anchored below the floor slab at the bottom. Once the beams are in place they should grout the space behind the beams from top to bottom to insure solid contact between the beam and the wall.
Sound like a bit much for a Saturday afternoon? It probably is. You noticed I slipped in 'a professional' in that last paragraph. I would recommend finding a qualified foundation company, or a structural engineer to do the work no matter how ‘small’ you may think it is.
Find someone with a guaranteed, time-proven system. Find someone who isn't you! Find them now! Quality foundation companies will give you a free inspection, which is always valuable to have.
Your job in all this is to be on the lookout for cracks and/or water seepage, and to act quickly once you find a problem.
Make it an annual inspection. You can save tens of thousands of dollars by reinforcing your walls now rather than rebuilding them after they collapse.