3 Basement Foundation Issues | Straight Line Construction

A basement serves a dual purpose, as it is both additional living space and your home’s foundation. Any damage to the main basement structure is a cause for concern because the problem will eventually compromise the whole house. Learn about the most common basement foundation problems and how to recognize them so that repair plans can be made before the issues become too bad.

Inward Deflection

Also simply referred to as bowing walls, inward deflection is when the basement walls begin to bulge inward. This problem is more common on concrete block walls as opposed to poured concrete foundation walls.

Cause

External pressure is the cause, but there are a few sources that lead to this pressure. A high

water table that leads to saturated soil pressing against the outside of the walls— called hydrostatic pressure—is one of the more common causes of bowing. Expansive soil types, which contain heavy amounts of clay and swell rapidly when wet or frozen, can make the situation worse.

Even parking a heavy vehicle too closely to the foundation can lead to pressure and bowing. The weight pressing down on the soil is the problem, so keep heavy equipment away from your basement foundation.

Repair Options

Repair will depend upon the severity of the inward deflection. Minor deflection can often be repaired with the use of wall strapping or anchors, which will help pull the wall back while also preventing future bowing. Some types of anchors require excavation as they are installed on the outside of the walls, while tieback devices may be installed on the interior.

Sometimes replacement of the affected foundation wall is necessary, especially if it is bowed severely. You may also need to replace the wall if it must be removed to address issues with the soil near the foundation, such as poor compaction.

Concrete Cracks

Cracks in the basement walls should always be professionally assessed. Although some cracks are merely cosmetic issues, others can indicate underlying foundation trouble.

Cause

The location and type of crack will indicate whether it is something that must be repaired. Most vertical and diagonal cracks, for example, are nearly always cosmetic and don’t require repairs unless you want to improve the appearance of the foundation wall. They are caused by natural settling. It’s still a good idea to have these checked by a foundation contractor just to be sure, though.

Cracks to be concerned with are horizontal cracks or those that stair step along the joints of a concrete foundation wall. These cracks indicate that the basement foundation is shifting unevenly, which will compromise the structural integrity of the walls. Frost heave, expansive soil, poor backfilling, and hydrostatic pressure are the causes.

Repair Options

Cosmetic cracks only require a cosmetic repair. After a full inspection to verify there are no underlying concerns, your contractor will simply patch the wall. You can then paint the foundation walls to camouflage the repair so it looks nice in the basement.

For cracks that are structural, repair begins with addressing the cause. This may mean digging out the foundation, water sealing the exterior, and then replacing the soil around the foundation. Cracks may require filling and patching so they don’t become worse once the causes are addressed. Replacement is necessary only in cases of severe cracking and shifting.

Sinking Floors

A sinking basement floor can be alarming. Sometimes the floor seems to sink fairly evenly, while in other cases part of the floor sinks more rapidly. Cracking in the floor or where the floor meets the walls is also common when the floor is sinking.

Cause

There are a few common reasons a basement floor will sink, but often the problem is drainage. Drainage becomes a problem as erosion occurs beneath the foundation, causing voids to open up. Water can seep into these voids under a basement foundation if water draining off the roof or from upslope isn’t routed away from the home.

Poor soil preparation before the house was built can also cause a sinking basement floor. New construction is more likely to have this problem. If the soil isn’t properly compacted, it will settle severely in the next couple of years. Minor settling isn’t a concern, but if you notice cracks in the floor or where the floor joins the walls, or if window frames are out of square, there may be a problem.

Repair Options

Jacking the floor up to level and filling in the void beneath is a standard repair practice. For a basement foundation, a polyurethane foam is pumped beneath the basement to fill any voids and bring the floor up to level.

If the damage to the floor foundation is severe, then it may need to be replaced. This is done in conjunction with filling any voids that opened up beneath the foundation due to soil shifting or erosion.

Schedule a consultation with Straight Line Construction if you suspect that there are any problems with your basement foundation.

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Straight Line Construction

Straight Line Construction has changed a great deal over the last 30+ years in the industry, but one thing remains the same: our commitment to quality and to designing and installing permanent solutions to foundation settlement issues. Beginning with small residential jobs more than 30 years ago when the family-owned company was founded by Tim Davis, Sr., Straight Line Construction today repairs cracking residential and commercial foundations through its Ram Jack product toolkit and designs solutions for large infrastructure and industrial projects. We specialize in matching the right solution to each type of foundation repair issue.

Are you building a new home and want to ensure it has a solid foundation? Or is your house experiencing unwanted sagging or a cracking foundation? Are your walls cracked or your doors and windows sticking? As a bonded, licensed, and fully insured foundation repair company, we are proud to serve Colorado homeowners, builders, and commercial contractors. Our technical certifications enable us to offer the highest quality services and the best American-made, environmentally safe products available for foundation repair. Regardless of how your building is shifting or sinking, we can help you stop it. Our 30 years in the business and our designation as a Ram Jack certified dealer means you get the most technologically savvy solution to fix your foundation.

From the factory to the field, we strive to ensure the quality of our products and workmanship meet the highest industry standards. We work with other vetted professionals in the industry. All of our helical piers, push piers, and mounting brackets are manufactured by Ram Jack in Ada, OK, at an ISO-certified facility with American-made steel. Williams Form Engineering in Golden, CO, manufactures our reinforcing bar for ground anchor systems and shares our commitment to quality control and quality assurance.

About Ram Jack

Ram Jack is a family-owned business that began operations in 1968, in Ada, OK, where we currently source our piers and brackets. Back then, concrete piering was the original repair method used simply because it was the only technology available at the time. Over time, it became evident that concrete piers did not provide long-term stabilization of foundations and only provided a short-term warranty period. To guarantee the highest grade of customer satisfaction, a greater solution needed to be found.

The Ram Jack owners embarked on a research program to develop a foundation repair system to stand the test of time. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office first issued a patent to Ram Jack for its foundation repair system in 1985. Over the next few years, additional refinements and patents have followed, resulting in the strongest patented system in the industry. Ram Jack driven pilings are ICC-ES recognized (International Construction Code—Evaluation Services). Ram Jack is one of only two ICC-ES recognized foundation repair companies in the industry. Ram Jack’s products meet or exceed code requirements set down by ICC-ES for both commercial and residential properties.

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