Subscribe or Renew Membership Subscribe Renew

bulging foundation walls

TimA4's picture

The two walls adjacent to the southeast corner of my basement are bulging. The distance of the bulge extends 15+/- feet in each direction.  I'm guessing the bulge may be out of plumb an average of 1" to 2".  We buildt the house 24 years ago.  At the time I had the contractor backfill around the foundation with gravel "to the top."  I'm certain that wasn't done because I've installed a french drain down at least a foot after noticing the bulge a few years ago.  I encountered no gravel.  The soil is heavy clay and nearly flat around the house.  I understand the importance of removing surface water.  In searching the web I find there are a number of methods to address the problem; from excavating and rebuilding the wall carbon fiber reinforcement.  My objective is to stabilize the wall as is with a reasonable degree of certainty and least cost.  I appreciate all thoughts before contacting local contractors.

Tim (post #207353, reply #1 of 3)

I cannot advise you on the corrective measures, but want to at least address the cause which you think the culprit.

The trouble with expansive clay around here is that it is in a constant change mode.  Real dry, it shrinks allowing water to lay in the void.  Too wet and it expands, pushing against the foundation.

What very well could have happened in your case happened to a home across the river.   I had been in the basement while doing work over there several yrs ago.  I mentioned to the owner, the few cracks visible in the poured foundation.  This house was maybe 30 yrs old.  At that time they were more concerned with the possibility of water entering (it had not) than the "cosmetic" cracks.  I gave them a couple of excavators names.


After a very dry summer a few yrs ago, we had an unusually wet fall and a super quick freeze that pushed the frost line down quickly.   As I heard later, the walls came in drastically.  Water had filled the large void left from the shrinking clay and the freeze had done the pushing.

So, in addition to your repair, be sure to consider water management outside.  Maybe even more than grading.

That is, if your clay moves around like this stuff.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Yes, in addition to clay (post #207353, reply #2 of 3)

Yes, in addition to clay soil, certain types of soil with a high peat content can cause problems, because they absorb so much water and the freeze.

You say "foundation" and don't say whether there's a basement or not -- that makes a big difference.

There are a dozen different ways to address your problem, some only stabilization schemes, others that would correct the bulge.  Depends on what you want, conditions, and how much you're willing to spend.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Where are you located? (post #207353, reply #3 of 3)

Where are you located?

YAY!  I love WYSISYG editing!  And Spellcheck!