When you are looking to buy a house, you want it to be perfect. Home buyers are always looking for the gem that fits their budget, but also will offer the amenities they desire. In some cases, home buyers prefer to purchase older homes that they can fix up to their liking, or even restore back to its original form. With that being said, when buying an older up, the possibility of issues arising is increased. If you are buying a home with foundation or basement wall issues, make sure to consult a structural engineer and your local home inspection team. Should I buy a house with bowing basement walls? Only if the repair is inexpensive and the structural engineer has certified the home.
Let’s take a look below at how we can repair a bowed basement wall, and what it means to be bowed.
What Are They
Bowing basement walls are just walls that are buckling or curving inward. When you look at a cross-section of a wall in the basement, and you drop a plumb line from the top of the wall to its base, the line should stay close to the center of gravity. If the plumb line is not aligned with the walls center of gravity, it is due to the wall being out of place or buckling under pressure. Keep an eye on the middle third of the wall to determine if you have a bowing wall.
How Does This Happen
There are a few reasons why a basement wall could end up bowing. Hopefully, it does not happen to your home, however, if it does, the reasons are as follows:
- Frozen soil – as your soil freezes it will expand and push up against the walls in your basement. This could displace the wall a bit and separate it from its original installation.
- Lateral pressure – if a heavy machine or vehicle happens to be parked next to the wall, the basement walls could bow.
- Hydrostatic pressure – when the soil outside the walls becomes fully saturated with water, pressure builds up against the walls.
- Expansive soil – expansive soils are soils that will swell and expand as water is absorbed. Additionally, the soil will shrink back down when it becomes dry. The more the water-filled soil expands and fills with water, the more pressure is placed on the basement walls.
Also, keep in mind that bowing walls might crack. When the rainy season occurs, the cracks will open, and when the soil dries up, the cracks will close.
What Can I Do To Repair It
Believe it or not, there are a couple of options for repairing your bowing basement walls. Let’s take a look below at what those options are:
- Helical Tie – these are wall anchors that are installed at the center of the wall, and placed every 4 to 5 inches. This project requires you to remove the soil from the exterior of the home, to relieve the pressure on the wall.
- C-channel wall anchor – if shearing is present at the bottom of the wall, a C-channel anchor would be used. These too are placed in the center of the wall and every 4 to 5 inches apart.
- Wall plate – these anchors are placed every 5 inches in the center.
- Steel I-beam – meant to straighten out any bowed wall. Luckily, digging up the external dirt is not required. All of the realignment can be done on the interior. I-beams are placed every 4 to 5 inches from the center of the wall.
- Carbon fiber – strong fabric material that will not stretch and is virtually unbreakable. This type of wall repair is the most recommended as it requires less destruction. The straps of the carbon fiber can be used to stabilize the block and the poured concrete foundation. Carbon fiber straps will be placed every 4 inches from the center of the wall. The only downside to this repair technique is they will not straighten the wall, but rather keep it in place.
How Much Does It Cost
Fixing bowing basement walls can be rather pricey. Depending on the size of the wall and the damage that has occurred, will determine how much you will be spending to make the repair. The national average to repair a curved wall in your basement ranges from $800 to $15,000.
Other Recommended Maintenance
Now that you have an idea about purchasing a home with bowing basement walls, read up on how to maintain the functions of your basement. Removing the water from your basement is key to maintaining your foundation’s integrity. Make sure to understand how to fix your basement drain when it is clogged.
Next, be sure to check the gutter system. If the gutter system is pulling away from the house, the water is going to flow down to the foundation and begin creating added pressure on your basement walls. This alone could be a direct cause for your bowing basement walls.
Lastly, in order to keep moisture build-up away from the foundation of your home, you will want to look into how to seal between the home and the home’s foundation. This is important as it can keep water from building up and increasing the pressure around your walls.
When Do I Call A Professional
Luckily for homeowners, a crack in the foundation can be fixed. Clearly, the smaller cracks are easy to fill and seal up with some basic caulking. This is a project that can be handled by any homeowner. If there are larger cracks, you will want to reach out to a professional. Be sure to reach out to a structural engineer. Also, they can provide you with repair options and certify the structure is safe and sound. Remember to also call your local home inspection team. Additionally, they can refer you to a reputable structural engineer and inspect the rest of the basement.
Buying a home that might need repairs to bow basement walls is not the worst decision. However, it must be deemed structurally sound. Be sure to have the seller of the home get the walls properly inspected and certified of their soundness. Cracks in your foundation and bowed walls in the basement are not great combinations. The structure could be deemed unsafe. Before you go purchasing a home with bowing basement walls, reach out to Liberty Inspections for a home inspection in the Western, KY, Fort Campbell, KY, and Middle Tennessee areas.