The High and Dry Blog
Toronto’s structural clarity in a sea of confusion.
What Is A Foundation Wall?
November 07, 2018
The Foundation Wall – What You Need to Know Now
The foundation wall is the most crucial structural element of your home and the structural integrity that a foundation wall provides is ancient in premise and reliable practice. Having a strong, dry and well-constructed foundation wall is essential for any building to last long term in the environment as it carries a tremendous amount of stress and load for long periods of time. Understanding the basics of a foundation wall is key to ensuring your building’s stability. To start, foundation walls are a vertical stone, concrete or masonry composition that supports the complete weight of a structure and its contents while also providing protection from moisture, settlement, movement and temperature extremes. Modern foundation walls typically consist of concrete, block or brick with steel reinforcing bars added for extra strength.
Modern concrete walls also form the below ground envelope of a usable basement and the design and construction of foundation walls must meet local building codes in order to ensure safety. An engineer must assess the soil conditions before beginning construction as this will dictate the type and size of footing needed to support the wall. Other considerations include drainage systems, waterproofing membranes, air vents, insulation requirements, reinforcement bonding between wall components, and more. Furthermore, foundation walls must be regularly inspected for cracks or other signs of wear that could signal instability or failure if not addressed promptly by qualified professionals.
Why is the Footing of a Foundation Wall Important?
The footing is a critical stability component and serves to keep your homes foundation wall level and stable over time. Brick and stone structures are immensely heavy and without proper footing construction even the strongest foundation walls won’t be able to provide necessary structural support over long periods of time. Essentially, the purpose of a footing is to spread out the weight of the structure over a larger surface area which helps prevent movement, cracking and other damage caused by concentrated loads and pressure points of foundation walls. Heritage footings generally consisted of simple flat rock worked into a slab dimension whereas modern footings generally consists of reinforced concrete with steel rebar and specific soil conditions must be met to ensure that a footing provides adequate vertical support. A properly installed footing with a weeping tile system also helps to ensure that water will not seep into cracks or crevices in the foundation wall or through the basement floor, which can lead to mold growth and structural damage if not addressed. Concrete walls are an essential component of a buildings structural integrity, providing strength and stability yet sometimes we don’t realize just how important the foundation wall really is. Unveiling the importance of these walls is key to understanding the significant role they play in keeping a building standing strong over long periods of time.
Why Foundation Walls Are Critical to Your Homes Structure
Below ground concrete walls give support and protection to homes against lateral forces and even natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods. Not only do foundation walls provide stability for a home, but they also help protect against water damage and pests. Foundation walls act as barriers against moisture seeping into the basement or crawl space of a home; this can cause serious problems if not treated quickly. Furthermore, foundation walls help deter pests from entering the living spaces of a house by creating an impenetrable barrier around them. Additionally, foundation walls also shield below ground structure from water infiltration by isolating and draining moisture and groundwater away. This helps to ensure that water entry and dampness does not accumulate within the space which can lead to rapid structural damage, destruction of finish materials and mold growth. A foundation wall also must be able to withstand the effects of gravity and generally, this means that they should be made from poured concrete or concrete block and be capable of supporting the weight of materials installed on them indefinitely. These walls provide a stable base which supports the entire building and ensures that it remains safe from natural elements like wind, rain, and snow. Without vertical concrete walls and footings, a home would not be able to withstand such conditions as they are designed to do but when the weather changes and your home settles the foundation can move which can result in cracks. It is important to be aware of the state of your interior foundation wall so that you can notice any changes that occur. If you notice any leaks or cracks in your basement walls contact a professional today.
What Causes Foundation Wall Cracks?
Cracks in concrete walls can arise from hydrostatic pressure or structural movement caused by soil shifting beneath the foundation. If there is significant moisture buildup around the foundation, this hydrostatic pressure can cause cracking to occur over time. Another common cause is inadequate reinforcement material used when constructing the wall or poor design which does not properly account for weather-related shifts in soil conditions. Lastly, poor drainage system installations can also result in water pooling around the base of your foundation and contribute to crack formation as well as seepage into your basement. Poorly operating eavestroughs, downspouts and negative grade all contribute to foundation wall cracks.
How to Repair a Foundation Wall
When repairing a foundation wall, it’s important to understand what type of damage is present as well as what materials you’ll need in order to make necessary repairs. Although each foundation wall repair is different, contacting a professional for an expert opinion is the best first move. Additionally, cracks in foundation walls can occur for various reasons ranging from soil erosion to water infiltration, so assessing the cause of the damage will help guide your repair process. Repairing a foundation wall can be completed from the outside or inside provided a certain criteria is met. You’ll also need to determine if additional support structures are needed during repairs, such as wall anchors or steel braces. See our outside basement waterproofing repair video below.
Why Is Hand Excavation Is The Best Excavation Method?
For outside basement waterproofing and foundation repairs, hand excavation is always best! With the capability of taking on very tight access-projects our hand excavation techniques allow us to return your grounds back to their original state after excavation – this cant be said with excavators or heavy machinery! Essentially, hand excavation is a process in which manual labor is used to dig into the ground and remove material with a shovel, pick and spade. It’s a method that has been around for centuries but it’s still the preferred excavation technique for building foundations today. That’s because hand excavation allows for more precise control of the amount of soil removed and ensures that the grounds are not disturbed any more than necessary. Additionally, hand excavation can help reduce cost and time associated with foundation construction since it requires fewer pieces of equipment and by nature requires less cleanup post-repair. Using hand excavation tools such as shovels, picks, mattocks and wheelbarrows allows workers to work safely while digging out dirt and soil from an area where a foundation repair is taking place but the team must be sure to dig deep enough so that there are no voids left behind during the excavating process as these may cause future problems for the structure once it is completed.
Why A Basement Waterproofing Warranty is SO Important!
When it comes to protecting your home, a basement waterproofing and foundation wall repair warranty is the most essential element. A waterproofing warranty not only provides you with coverage against water seepage it also protects you from future problems such as structural damage. A quality basement waterproofing warranty should provide coverage for any water penetration within the repaired areas for up to a realistic amount of time at a maximum of 15 years. Any basement waterproofing warranty issued past a 15 year period should be a redflag! Click here to see why.
Having a reliable basement waterproofing warranty in place can ensure peace of mind when it comes to the safety and structural security of your home. GJ MacRae Foundation Repair has surpassed and completed an upward of 10,000+ projects throughout our five-decades working in the GTA. No other waterproofing or residential structural repair company has been here longer, guaranteed.
If you’re looking to learn more about foundation walls, click here.
If you think that there may be a crack or defect in your foundation wall, contact the experts at GJ MacRae Foundation Repair.