Horizontal Cracks and Inward Bowing of Basement Walls: FAQs

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 by Ben Bates


Foundation Wall Basement Horizontal Crack Before ABS 21While no crack in your home’s foundation walls is a good crack, the most serious type of crack is any that runs horizontally; perpendicular to the basement floor and ceiling. Whether the crack extends for the entire length of the wall, a couple of meters, or even just the length of a single concrete foundation block; there may be detrimental structural consequences.

Horizontal Cracks and Inward Bowing of Basement Walls: Frequently Asked Questions

How do horizontal wall cracks occur?

The most common cause of inward bowing and horizontal walls cracks is hydrostatic pressure. This happens when the soil around your home becomes saturated, expands and exerts enormous pressure on the exterior foundation wall. Improper grading and the continual freeze/thaw cycle we experience here in southwestern Ontario both contribute to hydrostatic pressure.

Other causes and/or contributing factors may include: force from extensive tree root systems and pressure from porches and driveways.

How do these horizontal walls cracks or bowing walls affect me and my home?

Foundation walls crack and bow when the forces mentioned above exceed the strength of the wall. This force greatly reduces the structural integrity of the affected wall, and thereby; the entire home.

If the wall fails completely, your home will be unsafe, uninhabitable and the cost to rebuild the foundation extremely expensive upwards to simply not worth the cost.

What signs are there that my home’s structure is becoming compromised?

  • Visible wall cracks or inward bowing walls

  • Sticking or difficult to open doors and windows

  • Cracks in drywall, particularly around window and door frames

  • Gaps between floors and walls, and walls and ceilings

  • Water entering the home through the cracks

  • Cracks in the mortar, bricks or chimneys on the home’s exterior or gaps in fascia and siding

What may happen if horizontal wall cracks or inward bowing walls are left unchecked?

Unfortunately, foundation problems don’t fix themselves, and the severity and potential for structural damage only increases over time.

If left ignored, there’s a chance that the wall may continue to bow inwards, affecting everything from the home’s resale value, structure, to the safety of your family. The wall may completely fail, leaving your home uninhabitable.

 Foundation Wall Failure Advanced Basement Systems 21

When is the best time to take action?

If you can see horizontal wall cracks or a wall bowing inward, then NOW is the best time to take action.

What are the best available repair options?

To review a few of the most common repair options, please click here

If you would like to speak to someone about your home’s foundation, we’re here for you. Please reach out to us if we can help you: 1-866-277-1277

About the author
Ben Bates lives in the Chatham-Kent area and has been involved in the basement, crawl space and foundation industry since 2008. He has a passion for improving homes the right way and knows what it takes to waterproof, encapsulate or stabilize homes in Ontario. He assists with over 900 projects per year.

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