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  • Writer's pictureJessica Foster

Basement Walls: Possible Issues and Corrective Measures

The basement and crawl space walls of any home shouldn’t be lacking when it comes to industry standards. When it comes to any part that contributes to the overall structural stability of a building, any issues can extend past that location and affect the entire building. Basement walls are susceptible to various hazards, such as the movement of footers which can cause the walls to move as well. There are numerous issues that basements can face, and this list grows if the construction of the basement is not done according to industry standards. In the event that something troubling is observed regarding basement/crawl space walls, there are certain tolerances allowed as well as corrective measures that should be taken. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has a compilation of certain sights to expect regarding basement and crawl space walls.

One observation that can be seen are cracks in the basement/crawl space wall. Understanding the performance guideline relating to cracks in the wall can advise what next measure should be taken. According to performance guidelines, these cracks should not exceed ¼ inch in width, so cracks with a width exceeding this need to be filled in by a contractor using an approved material. Some cracks, known as shrinkage cracks, are common in these areas, so not every observable crack requires repair. Knowing the tolerance allowed to the crack sizes allows only necessary repairs to be done.

Basement walls can also end up out of plumb or bowed. If a wall is plumb, it is straight up and down, making it parallel to the force of gravity. Meanwhile, a bowing wall is a leaning wall, curving inwards. There are explicit guidelines for how much tolerance is allowed. If a basement wall is out of plumb, it should not be out of plumb greater than 1 inch in 8 feet when measured from the base to the top of the wall. If this tolerance is exceeded, it must be fixed in order to get back into the acceptable parameters. For bowed walls, they should not bow in excess of 1 inch in 8 feet. Like being out of plumb, the corrective measure is for the wall to be repaired until it is back in the tolerable area, as an excess of bowing can lead to the wall cracking. The only exception to these is if the wall is remaining unfinished according to the contract, and the wall meets building code requirements as proven by inspections.

One last observation one may come across is the presence of efflorescence on the surface of the basement or crawl space block, which refers to the deposits of salt visible on the surface of concrete, brick, and other natural stone surfaces. If a water leak is causing the efflorescence, said leak must be dealt with in the structure and repaired. This is because efflorescence is caused by moisture reacting with the salts found in concrete, signifying that there is a water leak somewhere. According to the NAHB, if the efflorescence is caused by the actual flow and accumulation of water, the leak must be repaired, leaving no room for any sort of tolerance.

Basement and crawl space walls can be susceptible to a handful of issues, but minor issues don’t necessarily require any intervention. Knowing when to take action when it comes to repairs is crucial to these walls as well as the overall stability of the home, as this area acts as the legs of the building. Here at Fine Remodeling, we are your Delaware contractor experienced with these guidelines and their tolerances, so that you can be sure your construction project is being handled correctly. We strive to not only uphold industry standards, but to go beyond so that your renovation project is more than satisfactory. Get in touch with us about your next project so you can be sure it's done right the first time.

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