Basement Issues. Fixing and Finishing Off Space

Old 01-07-15, 10:45 AM
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Exclamation Basement Issues. Fixing and Finishing Off Space

We purchased an older home earlier this year. I would say from around the 1950's. It has a block wall foundation.

My wife's dad did some work down there, as he runs his own basement business and installed braces along the walls. The block wall itself, is cracking, joints falling apart, has stepping, the top blocks are sunk in back further than the rest of the wall, the wall around 1 window is bowed out and window is ready to fall out, etc.

Today I noticed that I had some frost on the inside of my basement walls in places and patches of ice. Is this from air leaks? I know that both the vents downstairs were closed by somebody? I have since of today, opened them again. Basement was very cold.

I hope I'm not missing any vital information and I think I've covered all the concerns and problems I have.

I asked my father in law, but he states that everything is fine and shouldn't cause any problems.

We would like to finish off this space completely and make a playroom for the kids and a media room for ourselves.

Should I spray foam the entire walls 1 or 2" thick then build walls in front? Use 2" XPS board instead?

I'm attaching pictures of said problems and to get your thoughts on this. I will bury the braces inside the wall, so I don't lose any more depth space.

Hard to see frost in some pics. It's mostly by the windows and corners of basement. May have been from how cold basement was as the heat ducts were closed down there.

Hard to see the frost on this, but you can JUST pick it out. Also shows stepping cracks

This shows stepping cracks as well

Wall is actually bowed out away from window. I could fit my hand outside from the basement before it was spray foamed. Needs addressing.

Shows where top blocks are set back further than rest of wall. Also where older, small braces use to be. Grey stuff is redline.

Better pic to show how the top blocks are pushed back further

Horizontal cracks in block joints

Corner of basement. Quite a few joints cracking and a chunk of block broke off. Also a bit of frost, ice on this spot as well.

More horizontal cracking

Tried to pick up the bow in the wall, not sure if you can see it or not

Wall bowing against braces
Old 01-07-15, 12:45 PM
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Welcome to the forums! Buy a thermal sensing device and see where your air leaks are. Your vertical steel posts are holding the house up and the concrete wall is trying to settle, thus the cracks. My main concern with the cracks, if they are below grade is water intrusion. You can stop the air infiltration, but water is a different story. It must be attacked from the outside.
Old 01-07-15, 01:22 PM
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Chandler, I appreciate your input.

I don't believe water will be an issue for me. When my father in law installed those braces, we dug a channel 10" wide around the perimeter of the basement and installed a (french drain system?) I believe is what its called. We layed down pipes, gravel and covered up with concrete, so all water is routed directly to sump pump.

Very similar to this....

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Old 01-07-15, 03:44 PM
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The bowing and cracks in the wall are more typical of heave caused by frost lenses in the soil backfill against the wall or by expansive clay soil. All of that could have been been preceded by untimely backfilling when the house was originally built, meaning the backfilling could have occurred prior to the floor deck being in place and without appropriate wall bracing. That original damage may have paved the way for subsequent heaving.

I'm not sure why you would have vents into a basement in Wisconsin. With the plumbing being vulnerable to winter temps., I would not have any vents open.

I don't know what the drainage and soil characteristics around the house are but I would certainly be looking at both of those items. If you have a heavy soil backfill and that soil gets saturated you will certainly endanger the wall. Of course, this is not the best season to address the issues but when weather allows you should carefully analyze the exterior.

I don't know what your heat system is but if there is a central heat plant in the basement you would typically be getting some waste heat that helps keep excessive frost action from pushing on the wall. Insulating the wall could exacerbate the frost problem. This is all relative to the exterior soil characteristics. You may have to excavate and replace the soil with a more stable, less expansive material such as crushed stone.

You need to do some more analysis and perhaps call in a local expert to help you better understand the issues affecting the wall. Not to belittle the assistance of your father in law, but the interior fix, although perhaps well done to handle water , may not be all that is required to make the situation right for developing a finished space.

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