We at Kent Foundation Repair have heard many variations of this theme: “I noticed a crack in my basement wall that I’ve never seen before, and I’m not sure if I should call a professional to check it out. Is the crack just that – a simple, harmless crack in my basement wall? Or is it a symptom of a much larger problem?”
When A Basement Wall Crack Isn’t Just A Basement Wall Crack
On its own, a crack in your foundation (in this case, your basement wall) does not necessarily mean that your home has settled enough to require repair with helical piers. But there are ways to determine whether a professional should have a look. Checking for other signs of excessive settlement around your home is a good start. Look for clues such as:
- Cracks in your drywall
- Windows or doors that stick or are harder to open and close than they once were
- A crack that is wider at one end
- Cracks on two adjacent walls
If the crack is only a hairline break in the concrete, and you do not have any other symptoms of settlement, it’s probably not necessary to call a professional. We do recommend keeping an eye on it, though. If the crack widens over time, request a Kent Foundation Repair expert. If the crack in your foundation is more extensive at one end than the other, it may indicate some movement of the foundation under the home, and it should be evaluated by a professional. Additionally, cracking on two adjacent walls may indicate a pivot point in your foundation.
Basement Wall Stabilization With Helical Tiebacks
Soils generate a tremendous amount of pressure surrounding your basement foundation walls. Sometimes, if the drainage on the exterior of your home is inadequate, hydrostatic pressure can build up and move your foundation wall. Pressure causes cracking on the wall, and if left untreated will become worse over time. Fortunately, systems exist that can ensure your foundation remains stable. Installing helical tiebacks on your basement wall, foundation repair companies can stabilize the foundation, allowing you to rest peacefully with the knowledge that your foundation walls will not move anymore.
Depending on how much your walls have bowed or cracked, you may opt for us to move your wall back to its original position. To do this, we will need to remove the expansive soils that are causing pressure on the walls. After removing the soil, we can install the helical tiebacks and backfill the area with a more conducive mixture to drain correctly.
However, if the homeowner chooses, we can install the helical tiebacks and stabilize the wall in place without removing the soils from the foundation. Either way, you can be assured when we leave that your foundation will remain stable for as long as your home stands.
What Is A Helical Tieback?
A helical tieback is a helical pier that is attached to your basement wall and installed horizontally. Helical piers are large, steel shafts with helical plates welded onto them. These piers are drilled straight down into the earth and are then attached to the exterior of the home’s foundation. The helical plates then transfer the weight of your home onto the shaft, which keeps the house from settling vertically.
Helical tiebacks are installed through the interior foundation walls horizontally. They go through the soil that has been exerting so much pressure on your crawlspace or basement walls. Experts anchor tiebacks to the wall with steel plates. This horizontal installation (done at an angle to increase torque) uses the pressure of the earth to establish stability. This keeps the house from moving horizontally. Horizontal movement is what creates cracks in basement walls. It can also make them bow inward.
How Does Expanding Soil Affect My Basement Walls?
Near the end of a home construction project, experts complete the “grading” process. Grading is when the construction or landscaping company shapes and compacts the soil around your home, often using heavy machinery. The desire is to create an attractive, flat surface that allows for proper water runoff and drainage in the rain. This grading process also compacts the soil around your home, creating an incredible amount of pressure on your basement or crawlspace walls.
As time goes on and the ground around your home settles, it allows moisture to enter into the deeper layers. The soil then expands with this moisture. The increase in pressure can be enormous, but it doesn’t stop there. As moisture conditions dry, the soil particles will then shrink, creating a void where soil once was. These are the conditions in which a home’s foundation can settle. Rain adds moisture to the ground, and it expands again, putting severe pressure on a newly settled foundation. This constant back and forth can wreak havoc on your basement walls.
Nearly fifty percent of Michigan’s soil types contain clay, and clay soil types are notorious for this expansion/contraction behavior. Clay particles shrink quickly under dry conditions and swell easily during wet conditions. They can absorb an incredible amount of moisture and subject your basement walls to extreme amounts of pressure, forcing your walls to buckle inwards, creating cracking or bowing. This cracking and bowing is a result of the foundation moving laterally through the soil. The movements may be minute, but they are enough to damage a home’s foundation severely.
Case Study: Basement Wall Repair In Hamilton, Michigan
Our crews repaired a cracked basement wall in a home in Hamilton, Michigan. Our team used three helical tiebacks to reinforce a basement wall that had a crack running from its top to its bottom. The job took half a day to complete, and the homeowner was satisfied with the work and his newly stabilized basement wall.
The positive results of this repair are many. The basement is now a safe place to be in; there is an increase in usable space for things like storage and recreation and added value to the home. Kent Foundation Repair experts secure and reinforce against future cracks and bowing.
Helical Piers Are A Long-Lasting Investment
No one wants to do foundation repair on their home. Having helical tiebacks installed on your home is no simple endeavor. But if your basement walls are cracking or bowing, it is the best way to protect your most significant investment.
Kent Foundation Repair understands this. We recommend finding a company like us that puts a lifetime warranty on all pier installations. This warranty guards the repaired area against further settlement for the lifetime of the structure. At the beginning of the installation process, experts make measurements of the resistance of the soil for each pier that is driven into the ground. This ensures that the piers will be able to support the weight of the structure. These tests allow the installer to be confident that he is providing a long term solution. Just as no one wants to do foundation repair on their home, there is certainly no one that wants to do it twice.
A transferrable warranty is also essential. If you sell your home, this can give the home buyer the confidence they need to know that they are purchasing a stable structure. It can also help provide you with peace of mind in knowing that you are selling a home that is in excellent condition, and will remain that way for years to come. Contact us today to get started!