The Scary Signs of Wall Failure


Wall failure is scary.

Whether you have concrete block or poured concrete foundation walls, signs of wall failure come in all shapes and sizes. Knowing these signs are crucial in determining when your foundation walls are in need of repair. Below, we dive into the most prominent signs of wall failure for both concrete block and poured concrete foundation walls:

Signs of Wall Failure for Concrete Block Foundation

1. Horizontal Cracking

In the case of a bowing wall, horizontal cracking towards the middle of the wall is one of the first signs you will notice of wall failure. If you notice small, horizontal cracks forming along the middle of your wall, call a professional - over time, these cracks will increase in width as the soil outside continues to put pressure on the wall.

2. Stair-step Cracking at Corners

When stair-step cracking occurs at the corners of a bowing basement wall, it usually means the problem is getting worse.

Since the bottom corners of the wall are held up by the adjacent wall, when the wall bows toward the middle of the wall, the corners start cracking in a stair-step pattern.

3. Pushing in at the Bottom of the Wall

Another common sign of wall failure is when the wall slides inwards near the bottom. Commonly called "shearing," this happens when the concrete floor holds the bottom blocks in place as the force of the soil outside pushes the bottom of wall inwards

4. Leaning in at the Top of the Wall

If you notice your wall leaning towards the top, it is a tell-tale sign of a very serious structural problem. If the problems above have been ignored and problem is allowed to worsen, the foundation wall of the basement will begin to lean inwards towards the top, disconnecting your foundation wall from the framing of the house.

Signs of Wall Failure for Poured Concrete Foundation

1. Leaning in at the Top of the Wall

Poured foundation walls are more likely to lean at the top, rather than bow at the middle like concrete block walls due to their more rigid structure. Unlike concrete block walls, the connection between the top of a poured concrete wall and the rest of the house is the weakest part of the system. This top connection can break free if the soil outside the wall creates excessive inward pressure.

2. Diagonal Cracking at the Corners

Diagonal cracking at the corners will begin to form as the poured foundation walls continue to fail. These cracks will extend from the bottom corners up toward the top center of the wall, since the corners of the wall are supported by adjacent walls.


In conclusion, whether you have concrete block or poured concrete foundation walls, it's important to recognize the signs of potential wall failure, which come in various forms. For concrete block foundation walls, the most common indicators include horizontal cracking, stair-step cracking at corners, pushing in at the bottom of the wall, and leaning at the top. For poured concrete foundation walls, look for leaning at the top and diagonal cracking at the corners. Identifying these signs early is crucial to determining when your foundation walls need repair.

The Scary Signs of Wall Failure - Image 1

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