The 5 W’s of Foundation Wall Failure
In the summer of 2011, South Jersey Waterproofing was called to West Deptford, NJ, following the very serious Hurricane Irene that occurred a few weeks earlier. The homeowners knew they had structural issues with their foundation wall, but the storm put the foundation over the edge.
This wall, already cracked and bowing, gave way from the 10 inches of rain that fell in such a short period. Knowing the severity of this problem, our structural engineering team got to work immediately. We built a new and reinforced foundation wall in a matter of days, giving back to the home a sense of stability and strength that it hadn’t had in years.
Before and after this job in West Deptford, NJ, we have constantly gotten (very rightfully so) questions about foundation walls from homeowners that we address almost daily. Today, we wanted to apply some of the scholarly or journalistic approaches we learned in high school to inform YOU, the homeowner, about foundation walls. We will use the FIVE Ws to answer some of the most common questions our structural engineering team faces in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania region.
What is a foundation wall?
It is a wall on which the foundation footers rest, and it supports all of the weight of the home above it. It is a load-bearing structural wall that helps maintain environmental control (keep water and dirt out).
Where is my foundation wall located?
A foundation wall is located below ground. On the outside of your house, it’s below where your siding/brick/masonry work meets the ground, and inside, it would be underneath flooring and sill plates. If you have a basement, your basement walls are your foundational walls.
Who is a foundation wall?
This one doesn’t make sense. So, skip!
When could my foundation wall be in structural trouble?
Honestly, it could be facing potential issues at any time. But you should call South Jersey Waterproofing RIGHT AWAY if you see cracks or bowing in the foundation wall. If the wall is covered in sheetrock or wallpaper, you’ll notice zigzags, pulling away, or straight-up water coming through the wall. Like the home above, many of these issues start after storms or other environmental shifts.
Why is my foundation crumbling?
The most likely culprit is going to be overly moist soil. Excessively saturated soil can occur naturally because of a high water table, heavy rains, or other circumstances like leaks in nearby pipes, earthquakes, construction, etc. Water built up can cause hydrostatic pressure that puts a strain on the foundation, and if there is any weakness (most foundations are concrete, which is imperfect and porous) can lead to cracks and failure.
If you have even more questions following that examination or think your home might need foundation wall repair, please don’t hesitate to call South Jersey Waterproofing immediately or CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment!