What are common issues found in block foundations?

- Friday, March 29, 2024
A1 Foundation Crack Repair - Block Wall

Most foundations A1 Foundation Crack Repair deals with today are stone foundations and concrete foundations. But there are some structures they come across that have block foundations. What are the common issues they typically see with those?

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over two5 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcast provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: What are common issues found in block foundations?

Narrator: So, Adam, most foundations A1 Foundation Crack Repair deals with today are stone foundations and concrete foundations. Right? But there are some structures you come across that still have block foundations. What are the common issues you typically see with those?

Adam: Block foundations are kind of the 3rd tier of foundations that we typically deal with. Most foundations in New England are going to be, on the older side are going to be stone and then anything newer, relatively newer than the last 60, 70 years is typically going to be concrete. Block foundations are typically going to be found in the window between 1930 and 1960. But they could also be used for additions and rebuilding walls on certain older stone foundations.

It's not uncommon to see mostly a concrete foundation and then an addition that was blocked, or you'll see a partial basement that has a block or maybe a garage that was built that has a block foundation. Now cinder block or CMU block foundations are literally cobbled together like Legos, and they stagger the joints and they build it up from the ground up. Typically, they're not filled with concrete in residential construction, in commercial construction they typically are.

In residential construction, however, they're not. And that's one of the biggest issues with these foundations is that they're usually hollow cells, concrete masonry blocks. And the typical cracks that we see in these are 3 different kinds. One, you'll see a vertical crack that goes down through blocks entirely, from top to bottom. And these are more of a major settlement issue that occurred at some point in time. Those are actually one of the least common types of cracks that we'll typically see in a block foundation. The other two most common ones that we see, which generally fall into more of a structural issue, are ones that we call step cracking or staircase cracking, where we'll go down a block, over a block, down a block, over a block, and then continue either from top to bottom or go all the way across the wall.

The others that we'll see is a horizontal line. And those are the ones that are typically the most severe in terms of, you need to look at and need to evaluate it closely. That line that goes horizontally is typically going to form usually right around what greater ground level is on the exterior. And that is going to be from the soil or maybe it's ice and freezing thawing cycles. It could be plant root balls pushing on the foundation, and it actually will cause the foundation to want to buckle inwards.

The staircase or step cracking and the horizontal cracking are very common in these block foundations, especially if the house is coming on 50, 60, 70, even a hundred years old. So the remedies for those are typically to reinforce them so that they don't collapse inward. A lot of times these block foundations can actually get pushed in so far that it has to be rebuilt but in a lot of cases, we can save them before they get to that point. And the typical repair for that is going to be installing sleeve structural carbon fiber.

So what we'll use is an epoxy system into the crack to strengthen it. And then we have carbon fiber epoxy that is going to be adhered to the wall, mostly in vertical patterns, but sometimes also in horizontal patterns to strengthen the wall so it resists any sort of inward movement or shearing across the foundation. So these are things that we usually have to evaluate and do some engineering kind of calculations to figure out, where is the foundation? How far gone is it? Can it be saved? And is this a good application for it?

There are some cases where it can't be saved, and it is something that you need to get a full rebuild, which would be, obviously, a much larger project than a repair. But a lot of times, these can be saved if you catch them early enough. So when you're buying a house or you're selling a house or you're just concerned about your foundation that has a block foundation, a lot of people will be concerned about water, but the other thing that you have to really be concerned about is structural movement because they don't have as much strength as even a rock foundation or stone foundation and certainly not nearly as much strength as a concrete foundation.

Keep an eye on these foundation cracks. Keep an eye on any sort of movement or any sort of buckling or bowing inwards because these things need to be halted early. So that way you're not dealing with tens of thousands of dollars of repairs down the line.

Narrator: Thanks, Adam, for sharing the common issues you deal with in block foundations and what you can do to repair them.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.

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Call Us Today at 866-929-3171

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.