Here we’ll talk about the most common problems found with block foundations…
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Bowed walls are perhaps the most notorious cause for concern out of all foundation types. Their appearance can leave you wondering “can they can be fixed or do they have to be replaced?” The good news is they can be repaired and in fact, once the repair is complete you are left with a wall that will be stronger than when it was originally built!
Unknown to many homeowners, there is an enormous amount of force being supported by a typical basement wall. For sandy, water soaked soil there can be as much as 2600 pounds per linear foot on an 8 foot high wall. Unfortunately the typical masonry and concrete basement walls built in 20th century were not designed to take these stresses long-term which results in horizontal cracking, bowing, and may end with failure of the wall. Fortunately for homeowners, we have cost effective Carbon Fiber solutions which will provide remarkable structural benefits without the drawbacks of typical steel beam or steel tie-back installations.
In most residential situations where bowing basement walls occur, several forces interact together to cause the problem. The largest force is the addition of lateral earth pressure (soil forces) in conjunction with hydrostatic pressure (water forces). These forces put a horizontal load on the wall which in turn creates a large amount of bending stresses on the block wall.
As shown, the bending stress creates an unbalanced condition within the wall due to the very low tensile capacity of concrete and masonry, causing horizontal cracking in the structure. The weight of the structure above the wall (structure weight) helps generate a stabilizing compressive force on the wall until the lateral deflections become too large.
As the wall deflects beyond the “center of mass” of the above structure a phenomenon known as the “beam-column effect” creates additional bending stresses on the damaged wall, speeding up deterioration. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers (CFRP’s) provide the required additional tensile force needed to fully develop the compressive strength and create a “balanced” situation within the wall to prevent further bowing and cracking.
Cracked mortar joints are no doubt the biggest cause of dampness in your basement if you have a block foundation. Trying to find where the water is passing thru your block wall can be quite difficult due to the construction of the block itself. You see, the inside of a block looks like this:
Notice how the middle of the block is hollow. Now just imagine how water would react as it seeps past the outside mortar joint and into the center of the block. What happens is this, the water trickles down the block until it hits the bottom layer. Once there it begins to fill up the hollow cavity and looks for a place to escape. It could creep along the entire bottom row of blocks cascading along until it finds that one weak spot along the inside of your wall. Then presto…you have a leak in your basement! How nice is that
In fact it could take years for this process to happen but once it starts there’s no quick fix to stop it. The nature of the wall itself prevents us from doing a simple crack injection or caulking job.
Shifted or broken blocks are simply that, blocks that have shifted straight inwards or that have broken/cracked structurally.
The fix for this in most cases is to remove and replace them which means hiring a skilled mason who is versed in block replacement. If the block is located near the bottom of the foundation there will be some digging required. If this is the case and you would like to find out exactly what is involved feel free to email your request to us. We will need you to send us a picture or two in order to evaluate the situation and make a decision as to whether or not we will need to visit you.
Window Wells are prone to leaking for a variety of reasons and usually with the same result – water flowing through or under your window and down your wall like a waterfall. Top 3 reasons for window wells overflowing are:
Blocked or collapsed weeping tile can also lead to a foundation leak and water in the basement.
If the system is not working properly there is a tendency for the water to become “backed up” so to speak and sit against your foundation wall for a longer period of time that normal. This can cause hydrostatic pressure to build up which in turn forces pressurized water to enter into voids and cavities it would not typically do. This problem can creep up very slowly or quite abruptly depending on how the weeping system has become damaged or blocked.
Cracked concrete floors and floor drains can also be an area that allows moisture to come into your basement. If your home is situated where water veins run rampant or where the water table is higher than normal you may experience leakage. These types of situations can be tricky to fix and would require a site visit to determine the proper fix as there are more than one that could be valid. In order to determine the proper fix I would suggest we come and visit with you to investigate your unique situation.
Not sure what’s causing your block foundation to leak? Learn more here, or give us a call at 289-880-7988 to arrange an appointment for a no-obligation quote.
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