Is my Foundation wall bowing ?
Living in Pennsylvania means having a large inventory of older houses also means that the likely hood of living in a house that has a basement is very high. Many basements have problems such as water intrusion and enough of the foundation walls that have water problems tend to have other structural issues such as bowing, cracking and leaning. Foundation walls construction type range from sand stone, terracotta, split face concrete wall/concrete block foundation walls (some reinforced and much more not reinforced and hollow), brick walls, unreinforced coarse concrete wall and reinforced concrete walls. Some of the walls have concrete footers, wood footers or gavel base, etc.
With that range of different type of construction comes our responsibility to provide the homeowners with the proper advice when they are in need for a foundation solution to solve the water problem, movements, cracks, and/or bulging or bowing in their walls.
In the picture below, the wall measured to be bowing 1.375 inch, we used a high quality laser self leveling device to validate the hand measurement. the homeowner informed us that she was told that it was bowing over 3 inches and it's a matter of time before caving in and collapsing around its pivot point if she doesn't address the water problem and reinforce it with anchor plates.
Well let me simply say that the the foundation wall wasn't anywhere near collapsing at the time of the visit which was in January of 2023.
The photo below show the side wall of the same house with a bow that measured to be around 1.25"
I'm the next 2 photos, you will see the same corner of the house one interior and the other exterior. the interior photo clearly show the mold build up and the exterior picture clearly show why, I know you guessed it already. It's the disconnected downspout that is pouring the roof rain water right at the foundation wall. It's a typically issue we see in many houses and rarely the homeowners are being told to address them.
The downspout must be repaired and should be draining the rain water far away from the foundation walls to prevent further structural damage. And it's most than likely than not, this repair will eliminate the need for a French drain also.
Often times when homeowners call us they end up saving a significant cost that wasn't even necessary furthermore receiving directions on the appropriate method of reinforcement that meets engineering standards and code requirements.
There is always a benefit to hire a consultant instead of calling a sale's person, we don't sell you anything but rather help educating you to better understand your structure.
Call us today if you need any further assistance: 724-949-0004
Written by Firas Abdelahad, P.E.
Firas Abdelahad has been practicing structural engineering over 17 years working with teams of consultants, architects, investors, homeowners, contractors and subcontractors to come up with solutions for challenges may arise during design and construction phases.