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Old 04-01-2008, 03:24 PM   #1
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~HELP~ Basement Wall is bowing


Hi,

I've recently noticed an issue in my basement. I have a 4-Level split home and this issue is occuring on the third level.

About a foot under my ledge, where my Windows are (so an outside wall), I have noticed a very thin line, not so much a crack, but more of a line in the drywall running horizontally across the wall. Also, when you rub the wall, you can feel a bump, like the wall is bowing.

I have found this online, which seems to coincide with the issue, but this relates to a foundation crack, and, still being winter here, I can't dig up the side of my house to actually see if there is a crack.

HORIZONTAL FOUNDATION CRACKS - Patterns

These notes presume that you are examining a wall which is entirely or nearly all below-grade level.
Horizontal Foundation Cracks Located High on a Foundation Wall

Horizontal foundation cracks located in the upper third of a concrete block wall (presuming most of the wall is below grade) are most likely to have been caused by vehicle loading or in freezing climates, by surface and subsurface water combined with frost. In northern climates if we see cracked mortar joints in the top third of a block wall, at about the same depth as the frost line in that area the damage is almost certainly due to frost. Often outside we'll find corroborating evidence such as drip lines below the building eaves confirming a history of roof spillage against the building, and back inside we may see that the foundation damage is occurring only at the building walls below roof eaves and not at the gable ends of the home.
  • Cold climates- frost, possible displacement inwards
  • Possible vehicle loading, displacement inwards

I have since bought some soil and created a slope away from the house in an attempt to at least lessen the damage any further until I can dig up the side of the house and see if there is actually a crack.


Has anyone ever seen this? I can't find much online. Any suggestions?

Many thanks in Advance...

Eric.

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Old 04-01-2008, 04:28 PM   #2
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~HELP~ Basement Wall is bowing


You will probably not find any cracks on the outside of the wall, since if there are actually cracks in the block portion of the wall, they would not go trought the wall to the exterior.

I am assuming you have a wall composed with a lower portion consisting of concrete block and the upper portion (near the ledge) and wood frame above. This type of conposite construction is weaker than a complete concrete block because the wood frame has not lateral stregth and the joint creates a "hinge". The lower block portion has much more lateral strength, but because it does to span to the upper floor, unless it was reinforce properly for a catilever situation.

Take a look at the interior drywall to determine this is occuring at a joint. It really takes very little movement to crack a drywall joint and a masonry wall can move that much without appreciable loss of strength.

Anything you can do to reduce the lateral load will help. Piling up extra soil improves the drainage, but adds extra weight.

If you really want to know what is going on, remove the drywall to look at the bearing wall. If you are concerned about a structural propblem instead of a visual problem, call a local engineer.

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Old 04-01-2008, 06:35 PM   #3
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~HELP~ Basement Wall is bowing


Quote:
Originally Posted by concretemasonry View Post
You will probably not find any cracks on the outside of the wall, since if there are actually cracks in the block portion of the wall, they would not go trought the wall to the exterior.

I am assuming you have a wall composed with a lower portion consisting of concrete block and the upper portion (near the ledge) and wood frame above. This type of conposite construction is weaker than a complete concrete block because the wood frame has not lateral stregth and the joint creates a "hinge". The lower block portion has much more lateral strength, but because it does to span to the upper floor, unless it was reinforce properly for a catilever situation.

Take a look at the interior drywall to determine this is occuring at a joint. It really takes very little movement to crack a drywall joint and a masonry wall can move that much without appreciable loss of strength.

Anything you can do to reduce the lateral load will help. Piling up extra soil improves the drainage, but adds extra weight.

If you really want to know what is going on, remove the drywall to look at the bearing wall. If you are concerned about a structural propblem instead of a visual problem, call a local engineer.
Thanks for the info.

My foundation is poured concrete. Not cinder blocks or anything like that...

I had my local inspector come back and do a moisture check. He did not record any moisture anywhere on the wall except his needle moved when following the line, indicating its not wet, but there is moisture issue there. What's weird is that the wall and line will be there, then is some places it will be fine, and then it will be an issue again further down the wall, with no issue at about the middle of the room on...

Someone here at work tells me it might be an issue with moisture getting to the drywall. The house is 30 years old this year and I don't think there is a vapour barrier. Also, he thinks it might be due to poor insulation.

How would I get at the interior drywall to determine this is occuring at a joint? Cut out a piece? It does look like the line is right where a joint might be. The wall is composed of some sort of metal, like a grid I guess. If it is a cracked drywall joint, is there anything I can really do to fix it? What steps can I take to reduce the lateral load?

I'll try to upload some pics.
Thanks all.

Last edited by earthad1; 04-02-2008 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 06-04-2008, 10:48 AM   #4
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~HELP~ Basement Wall is bowing


Sorry it took so long... Here are the pictures.. I've tried to include the ledge for reference. It's a little hard to see....




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Old 06-04-2008, 09:20 PM   #5
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~HELP~ Basement Wall is bowing


The pictures are of no use. Next time send them to yourself first as an email so you can see what will end up on the site.
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:25 AM   #6
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~HELP~ Basement Wall is bowing


Your pictures are perfectly fine. I can clearly see the ridge to which you are referring.

I can't really help you with anything, however, since I don't know what's causing the problem
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Old 06-05-2008, 12:24 PM   #7
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~HELP~ Basement Wall is bowing


They are linked to a photobucket account so obviously I saw them before I posted them...Adjust you monitor settings...



I think the drywall joint cracked, they probably either did not tape it correctly or not enough...Its about 4 ft from the floor, about where a joint would be...

So other than re-taping it....there's not much I can really do about this


Last edited by earthad1; 06-05-2008 at 12:53 PM.
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