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It is Urgent That You Fix a Bowed or Bulging Basement Wall, and Here’s Why

crack in block concrete wall, wall bowing inward

If you have a basement under your home, this is your home’s most critical foundation piece.  

Everything else in the home is resting- directly or indirectly- on top of your basement walls.  If one of them weakens, it compromises the stability of your entire structure. A wall that has developed horizontal cracks, bowing, or bulging is a large warning flag that you should address immediately.  

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “this is an article published by a foundation company!  Of course it’s going to pressure me to act fast! It’s in their best interest.” And you’re not wrong.  But here’s a simple fact: I’m pressuring you to act quickly because it is also in your best interest.  If you delay, the damages- and the repair costs- increase exponentially.

Early stage of a bowing wall: stair-step cracks leads to a long horizontal crack.

crack in block concrete wall, wall bowing inwardThis picture was taken by an Acculevel project manager during a routine free estimate appointment.

What Causes a Wall to Bow?

Most of the time, a bowing wall is caused by hydrostatic pressure.  This pressure develops when the soil around your house is saturated with water.  The soil expands and pushes against your foundation.  

These conditions are common in Indiana during snow melts and spring rains, but can also be caused by poor drainage around your house.  If your downspouts are emptying rainwater to close to the home, or if you live in a high water table, you may need some basement water drainage in addition to wall repairs.  We have a guide that reviews waterproofing in detail, if you’d like more information 

Want a faster diagnosis?  Check our Symptom Checker for more info.

What are the options?

The worst-case scenario?  Your wall collapses.

I know, I know- no one likes an alarmist, but a bowing wall will not fix itself.  Nor can you trust it to hold fast against increasing external pressure. Left on its own, a damaged wall will deteriorate until it collapses.  At that point, the structure of your house is compromised, and staying there could endanger your family.  

You may have to move out until it’s rebuilt, which can take weeks or months, depending on the severity of the destruction.  A collapsing basement wall can split flooring, snap beams and joists, crack drywall, break water pipes- the potential damage is extensive and far-reaching.

Later stage- the wall has bowed inward and is beginning to bulge.

crack in block concrete wall, wall bowing inwardThis picture was taken by an Acculevel project manager during a routine free estimate appointment.

The best-case scenario?  You act quickly, which saves you money and stress.

If you fix it promptly, you avert these disastrous circumstances.  A cracked or slightly bowing wall can be repaired with minimally invasive methods.  If the wall has progressed to significant bowing or bulging, the repairs will cost more money and create more mess- but it will still be much less than the wreckage of a collapsed wall.  

The important part is that you take action while it can still be repaired.


How to Repair Cracked, Bowing, or Bulging Walls

There are several ways to fix a wall before it collapses.  The best method for your home will depend on how extensive the damage is.  If a wall is only cracked, or bowing less than 2 inches, carbon fiber straps are the ideal solutions.  If the wall is bowing or bulging more significantly, you’ll want to review wall anchors and helical tiebacks.  We have a detailed guide to foundation repair here, that goes into greater depth. 


What To Do If You Have Cracked or Bowing Basement Walls

Find an experienced local foundation company, and make an appointment.  Before you sign a contract for any service, you should always verify the company is reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.  

If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, contact Acculevel.  Established in 1996, we specialize in foundation repairs and crawl space waterproofing.   If you have noticed horizontal cracks in your basement, or you have a bowing wall, you can request a free estimate.  An experienced project manager will evaluate your crawl space conditions and recommend the best course of action for you, to keep your home strong and healthy for years to come.

We have also created a free tool that any homeowner can use to see what could be causing problems in your home and how to fix it. Identify problems, explore solutions, and get advice on how and when to take action with our Symptom Checker.


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