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what are the signs of

foundation failure?

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BOWED BASEMENT WALLS

Why are my basement walls bowing, leaning, or cracking?

Drawing showing cracked foundation wall that is bowing in.

Walls that are bowing, leaning, and/or cracking are showing serious signs of excessive exterior stress. Let's look at some possibilities.

  • Tree roots. Believe it or not, the roots of a tree planted too closely to your house can begin to exert significant pressure on exterior walls.
  • Expanding clay deposits. When too much water is allowed to infiltrate the soil outside your basement walls, it will cause clay deposits to expand, pushing in on the walls.
  • Poor grading, cluttered gutters, badly placed downspouts. Any of these problems can cause the above-mentioned problem of expanding clay deposits, contributing to pressure against your walls.
  • Plumbing leaks can undermine the structural integrity even of concrete walls, over time.

CRACKS IN FOUNDATION

What causes a foundation to crack?

Cracks in your foundation could indicate a serious problem, but some types of cracks are more concerning than others. Learn about the different types of foundation cracks below.

  • Vertical cracks. Believe it or not, the roots of a tree planted too closely to your house can begin to exert significant pressure on exterior walls.
  • Expanding clay deposits. When excessive amounts of water sit in the soil outside your basement walls, it will cause clay deposits to expand, pushing in the walls.
  • Poor grading, cluttered gutters, badly placed downspouts. Any of these problems can contribute to pressure against your walls.
  • Plumbing leaks will undermine the structural integrity even of concrete walls, over time.

Damp or leaking basement

Is water getting into your basement?

First, it's important to know that it's not always obvious if your basement is allowing water in, or of hydrostatic pressure against your basement walls. Yes, you might come home after a heavy rain to a flooded basement, or see actual water running down the walls. But you should also look for less obvious signs:

  • Stains on walls. There are different types of wall stains, ranging from harmless to dangerous to human health, but most are a sign of moisture that has found its way inside. An expert can determine just what kind of stain you're looking at, and how dire the situation is.
  • Puddles along wall/floor seams. That water got in somehow, and it's probably not your kids' faults, though, don't rule anything out just yet! If you see puddles of water at the bottoms of your basement walls, it could indicate a problem you'll need to deal with soon.
  • Cracking or bowing walls. We cover this problem on its own above, but it's crucial to understand that these are often inter-related issues. Cracking or bowing walls are often a sign of moisture getting into your basement or seeping through your foundation.

How is the water getting in?

If you notice signs of water in your basement, this could be either a symptom of foundation failure, or a problem caused by the same conditions that can lead to foundation failure. Here are a few of those possibilities.

  • Clogged gutters. When troubleshooting any problem, start with the easy, least expensive fix. (Is the computer plugged in?) Clogged gutters can cause water to overflow and flood areas around your foundation or basement.
  • Poorly placed downspouts. Downspouts should be spaced every 20-30 feet of your roof line, depending on the type of your roof, the slope of your property's grade, and so on. They should never be emptying close to a crawl space or basement window.
  • Improper grading. Over a span of eight feet, you should see at least a one-inch drop away from your house. Anything less could spell problems for moisture in your house.

problems upstairs

A sinking foundation will often show in your living space.

Here are some things you may notice without even descending into the basement or inspecting your crawl space.

  • Difficulty closing doors or windows. While other factors can lead to this problem, it's often a sign that your house is sinking. If you notice this in more than one or two places in your house, it's time for an evaluation.
  • Cracks in walls. If your foundation is shifting beneath you, this will stress the walls you see every day. Cracks will inevitably appear, often close to doors and windows.
  • Bulging, sloping, or uneven floors. It might be necessary to pull up carpet to see these problems, but if you find them, they are almost certainly a symptom of some degree of foundation failure and/or a sinking house. An expert evaluation can help you determine just how serious the problem is.

Why put it off? Let's talk about it.

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We've been serving the greater Evansville area for three decades. Get to know us.

GET TO KNOW US

Tye Dickens, Founder & CEO of Midwest Structural Solutions

At Midwest Structural Solutions, we like to say that a home is only as good as its foundation. So it only makes sense to tell you about our own deep-rooted foundation as trusted construction partners in the tri-state area.

What makes Midwest Structural Solutions stand out is the fundamental experience and expertise in the building trades that we bring to every project. Owned and operated by local mason and home builder, Tye Dickens, MSS did not start out "fixing leaky basements," but rather developed a division of our existing company to handle the ever growing request for foundation issues.

Tye first began building his local reputation in masonry, in the early 1990s, and later expanded into home-building. The expertise from these endeavors not only elevates the Midwest Structural Solutions team's understanding of structures, but gives us the edge on craftsmanship. We take pride in our work and do our best to make sure our customers have a comprehensive understanding not only of their particular foundation issues, but of all the possible solutions.

We hope you'll trust us with your home or place of business as so many others in this area already have.

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