Foundaion Wall Straightening

On a typical bowed or cracked foundation wall we always start by excavating along the wall to footing grade to release the pressure against the wall. Once the pressure has been relieved we can start pushing the wall back into its original location. Next we remove the face of the block on the first row below final grade so the cores are exposed. We repeat this process every 32” or every other block (some blocks are different sizes so spacing can vary). Now we install ½” rebar vertically in the cores to add strength and then pour grout mix inside the blocks filling them to the top. We vibrate the grout to insure there are no voids. Finally we tuck point the damaged mortar joints and patch the face of the exposed block with a new piece of concrete. We finish the wall off with our Waterproofing process.

Horizontal Foundation Cracks Duluth MN
Horizontal Foundation Cracks
Does your home have a concrete block, foundation wall? Horizontal cracks are a common problem with this type of foundation. The most common cause of horizontal cracking is excessive soil pressure. This type of pressure creates horizontal cracks that may occur near the center of the wall or close to the top. Sometimes, the soil pressure is so great it will actually shear the first course of concrete block and push the wall inward. These cracks will staircase up and down the foundation near the ends of the wall. Another common reason for horizontal cracking is frost. The moisture in the native soil against your foundation can cause heaving and exert pressure against your basement wall. Driveways or walking areas near the foundation that are cleared of snow in the winter will typically have frost penetration much deeper than areas that are not traveled on. Also an unheated basement or a well insulated basement will have deeper frost penetration by the foundation. The good thing about these types of problems is that we can fix most of them before the foundation needs to be completely replaced.

Vertical Foundation Cracks
Vertical Foundation Cracks
This type of cracking is often due to shrinkage of the masonry or concrete as it dries out or movements due to changes in the temperature of the wall. Block and concrete are constructed in a very wet condition. Water is present in the concrete, the mortar and the grout. The excess water eventually has to evaporate out of the wall. This evaporation occurs during the curing process and the loss of water will cause a slight loss of volume. The wall wants to shrink to compensate for this loss. Every other part of the building is trying to hold the wall in a rigid position and prevent it from actually shrinking. So rather than shrink from the ends, the wall will develop vertical cracks along its length. A well designed wall will actually develop hundreds of microscopic cracks along its entire length that will compensate for the shrinkage. Sometimes, however the wall will find a weak plane and decide to make up all of the shrinkage at one location. It seems inevitable that the wall will choose the most noticeable spot to produce the new crack. It is also possible that temperature changes can cause a similar volume change in the wall. A wall that is subjected to a cold environment for an extended period and then warmed to room temperature, or vice versa, will undergo some volume change. Other phenomenon, such as chemical changes in the block and concrete, can cause volume changes over a longer period of time as well and create cracking. In most cases, this condition is not of great concern and usually does not seriously threaten the stability or strength of the wall. This type of crack may also affect the waterproofing of your foundation.

Stair Step Cracking Duluth MN
Stair Step Cracking
This type of cracking is most likely the result of differential or uneven settlements of the footing and subgrade below the wall. This might be due to change in loading on the wall or a soft spot in the soil below the footing. Movements that lead to stair step cracking are usually short lived and reach a steady state within a short period of time. If the movement does not appear to be stopping or if you notice lateral movement of the wall (you run your finger along the crack and find that one side of the crack has moved inward more than the other side) it would be wise to contact a professional to take a look at the condition. It is possible there still is nothing to be highly concerned about. The first question is whether or not the wall is still moving. This takes some time but since this type of crack usually is not a serious threat, time is available to record some data.

how to mesure the cracks in your basement wall Duluth MN
How To Measure The Cracks In Your Basement Wall
Mark several locations with a permanent marker and measure the width of the crack. Record this information including the date. Repeat this every month or so to see if the measurement has changed over time. Another method of monitoring the crack is to place a piece of tape across the crack and use a razor blade to spit the tape at the crack location. Check back each month to see if the razor thin slit widens. Photos are also a good idea. Crack monitors are available from several companies one is Avongard (www.avongard.com)


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