Foundation wall failure that requires significant foundation repairs typically happens over time to a foundation that is constantly stressed beyond its strength.
The results can be serious, with substantial foundation wall repairs becoming necessary to save the foundation and the whole structure sitting on top of it.
Though these problems do not happen overnight, the signs of impending foundation failure often get ignored for long periods before something is done about it.
These four stages of foundation wall failure can help homeowners understand what is happening so that appropriate foundation wall repair solutions can be sought sooner, rather than later.
- Stage 1 - Horizontal Cracking - Long horizontal cracks near the middle of the wall are usually the first type of foundation wall damage to appear in a foundation that is undergoing damage due to uneven settlement, inward pressure, and other problems. Hairline cracks may not require intervention, but cracks that create an actual gap in the wall suggest that bigger problems could be coming. Foundation wall repair solutions made at this stage can prevent worse damage and the higher cost that making repairs will involve.
- Stage 2 - Stair-Step Cracks - As the problem worsens if foundation repairs are not made, stair-step cracks may start in the corners, moving downward along a block foundation wall toward the straight of the wall. This is a sign that pressure against the wall is increasing and it may start bowing inward at that point.
- Stage 3 - Bottom Shear Cracking - When the bottom row of blocks shear off those that are actually set into the concrete pad, this is a sure sign that the wall is moving. Unless significant foundation wall repairs are made, collapse is likely.
- Stage 4 - Wall Failure - If stair-step corner cracks and bottom shear cracks are not remedied with the appropriate foundation repair, eventually the wall will fail and collapse inward, into the basement space.
The message here for homeowners should be clear - seek foundation repairs as soon as those first little cracks start to appear.
There is no telling how slowly or quickly more substantial damage will occur.
The safest and least expensive option is to discuss foundation wall repairs with an experienced foundation specialist, then start taking the steps necessary to prevent Stage 1 problems from progressing.
With the right foundation wall repair solutions used earlier on and a few thousand dollars, homeowners have a better chance of preventing a foundation disaster that could end up costing them tens of thousands of dollars instead.