Repair damage to a basement wall as quickly as possible, since the rest of your home sits on top of the basement and certain kinds of damage can put your whole home at risk. The method you choose for the repair should take into account how serious the problem is, whether the damage is likely to get worse if not fixed immediately, what caused the damage and the type of wall you are dealing with.
Determine if the damage is structural or cosmetic. Structural damage to the basement walls can lead to problems with the rest of your home; but cosmetic problems, though a nuisance, are not an emergency. Some of the more common types of structural damage include bowed walls, large cracks and water leaks. Chips, small cracks and similar problems tend to be cosmetic.
Decide if the repairs your basement wall needs require steel beams or carbon fibers. Both will stabilize a shaky or bowed wall, but not all repair companies use carbon fibers. In some cases the soil outside is causing the problem and will need to be excavated and the hole refilled. If your wall is being pushed inward, you will need to choose a repair method that supports the walls on the inside as well as addressing the problem on the outside of your home. In extreme cases you may need to remove the damaged wall and replace it if it cannot be stabilized any other way.
Evaluate cracks to determine if they are due to movement of the foundation or expansion and contraction of the wall. Cracks due to expansion and contraction require patching but don't need more extensive repairs. Foundation movement cracks indicate that you need to stabilize the entire foundation, usually through the use of steel pins and piers.
Locate the source of any water leaks. Sometimes the leak is caused by water pooling or flowing against the basement walls, in which case you must redirect the water before you can carry out any repairs. Large leaks almost always require repair from the outside of the basement wall as well as the inside. You can often repair small leaks from the inside only. In bad weather, choose a method that allows you to stop the flow of water into the basement immediately, such as quick-drying adhesive cement that will seal the leak even if water is seeping through at the time.
Tips & Warnings
- If you aren't sure what has caused the damage to your basement walls, call a concrete or basement wall repair specialist for an evaluation and estimate. Check with several different companies, as estimates can vary significantly.
- Major basement repairs require the services of a professional. You can evaluate the problem, but in many cases the average homeowner will not be able to carry out the repairs. Trying to repair a structurally damaged basement wall without the proper knowledge and equipment can result in serious damage to your home.
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