Expansive Soils And Bowed Walls

foundation of a building slowly sinking, causing a cracked, broken wall

Basement soil surrounds basement walls, which are a vital part of your home’s structural foundation. When this soil expands, it can cause significant bowing in basement walls. Bowed walls slant inwards and aren’t generally noticeable at first. Once the bowing causes cracks or becomes more pronounced, these walls become easier to spot. Bowed basement walls can spell trouble for your home’s structural integrity because they will eventually crumble and collapse if left unchecked.

What Is Expansive Basement Soil? 

Sandy soils remain stable as water passes through, making these soils a good choice for building on because the water drains away from the structure. Soils rich in clay are an entirely different matter because they go through significant changes based on moisture content. Clay is considered an expansive soil, and though it’s not ideal for new construction, it’s so abundant in some areas of the country that builders often don’t have a choice.

Expansive soils have high concentrations of absorptive clay and expand when they become saturated with water, and then shrink when they dry out again. Absorptive clay can increase in volume by 10% or more when it gets wet, which puts enormous pressure on the basement and foundation walls.

The pressure created by expansive clay soil is enough to bow and crack foundation walls and floor slabs, making your home’s entire foundation move. Furthermore, the shrinkage that occurs during drying puts even more stress on concrete foundations and walls. Constant swelling and shrinking may create fissures in the soil that lets water seep into basement walls, causing further problems.

Signs Of Expansive Soil Damage

Basement walls showing signs of bowing gets worse over time and should be addressed right away to ensure the continued integrity of your home. Bowed walls is a major sign of extensive basement soil damage, but other signs include:

  • Soil pulling away from foundation walls
  • Cracks in bricks or brick veneer
  • Water seepage in the basement
  • Diagonal cracks along the corners of foundation walls
  • Horizontal wall cracks
  • Jammed windows and doors
  • Cracks in concrete garage or driveway slabs

Tips To Limit Expansive Soil Damage

Expansive basement soils cause the most damage when there are significant or repeated changes to the moisture content. The best way to limit the amount of damage caused by expansive soil is to maintain a constant moisture level.

For new construction, pre-wetting expansive soils before pouring the foundation may limit further expansion after you build the foundation. In existing structures, install a soaker hose to water the soil during dry periods to prevent extreme drying out that makes it shrink. This may help stabilize foundation movement when the soil expands after it becomes overly saturated again.

Wall Anchors For Bowed Walls

Bowed basement walls are a serious threat to your home and require immediate action, but repairing basement walls should be left up to professionals. Foundation experts often use wall anchor systems designed to stabilize bowed or leaning foundation walls and avoid the need to completely replace the foundation.

Wall anchor systems utilize heavy-duty, galvanized anchors embedded into stable soil outside the foundation wall. These anchors are connected via a metal rod to a plate attached to the bowed basement wall. Over time, the tension between the anchor and the plate is slowly increased to straighten the wall back into its original, upright position.

We Fix Bowed Walls In Northeast Ohio

Our foundation experts at Premier Wall Anchor & Waterproofing in Stow, Ohio, install top products guaranteed to provide years of stabilization. Our fully licensed, bonded, and insured technicians are fully equipped to address bowed wall repairs with our Premier Wall Anchor System. Backed by a Lifetime Transferable Warranty, our wall anchors are less disruptive and more affordable than foundation wall replacement.

We’ve been in the foundation repair business for over 13 years and specialize in the quick installation of wall anchors that require minimal excavation and landscape disturbances. Contact us at 800-573-7170 to schedule an evaluation and let us combat your bowed basement walls and ensure the continued health of your home.