Horizontal Cracks in Home Foundation and Bowing Basement Walls—Repair Them Now!

If you have noticed horizontal cracks and bowing walls in your basement, then you may have a serious foundation problem that requires basement foundation repair. Horizontal cracks or bowing walls indicate lateral pressures impacting your basement wall, which can lead to catastrophic effects on your home. When you begin to see signs of walls bowing in your basement, it’s time to call a foundation repair company to inspect your home

What are Bowing Walls and Horizontal Wall Cracks?

Bowing walls and horizontal cracks are a sign of serious foundation damage in your home. Typically, a person’s home will begin to “bow” before any cracks are visible. Bowing occurs when pressure from the Earth around the home’s foundation causes the walls to “bow” inward, but can also be caused by water pressure and flooding from outside the walls. Eventually, when enough pressure has accumulated against the walls, horizontal cracks will begin to form. Bowing of basement walls must be addressed immediately, or irreparable damage to your home can occur.

How to Identify Bowing Walls in Your Home 

  • Cracks in the walls that are wider at the top than at the bottom
  • Floors that are not level
  • Doors, cabinets and windows that do not shut properly
  • Cracking in the upstairs plaster and/or drywall
  • Cracking in exterior brickwork and/or caulking
  • Leaning of outside chimneys and/or porches
  • Horizontal or stair-step cracking along the foundation walls
  • Diagonal cracking at corners of poured concrete foundation walls
  • Inward bowing or bulging of walls
  • Walls sliding inward along the bottom
  • Walls leaning in at the top
  • Wet, clay soils around the home along with damaged walls
  • Expansive clay soils present around the structure

What Causes Horizontal Cracks and Bowing Walls?

Foundation walls may bow for a number of reasons, including water pressure, root penetration, and construction flaws. Interior drywall panels can also bow due to Improper installation or moisture damage can also impact drywall panels. 

A few of the reasons are listed below, in detail:


Water Pressure

Water pressure is typically the most common cause of bowing concrete walls; water pressure can push upward or horizontally against the wall, and moisture can cause drywall panels to bow, leading to mold and mildew growth. 

Tree Roots

If you have trees, brush, or shrubs growing near your home’s foundation, their roots may be causing your home’s walls to bow. Roots can exert pressure against the walls, as they can grow very far from the plant seen above soil. 

Soil and Settling

Soil is able to move and shift naturally, and if your footers have been installed on loose soil, they may move as the soil settles. Clay, a form of soil commonly used to build homes in Georgia, expands when wet, which can also exert added pressure. 


Home foundation walls require maintenance, just like your roof’s siding. If not, the concrete that forms them will break down over time, leading to bowing walls and cracks. Exposure to moisture makes the foundation weaker, and more susceptible to damage. 

Poor Construction

Sometimes, poor construction can be the primary cause of a bowing foundation. If the foundation was constructed in sub-par conditions, or your contractor rushed through the job and cut corners, you’re more likely to observe damage in the future. 


Bowing Wall and Horizontal Crack Repair

If you’ve noticed that your basement walls have begun to bow, it’s vital that you reach out to a home foundation repair company to handle the issue. You may have to repair the wall by either helical tieback anchors, wall anchors or carbon fiber reinforcing strips, however, home owners should never install these items by themselves. 

Instead, home owners should rely on a contractor that’s certified to inspect and repair damaged foundations. If you are a homeowner in need of foundation repair, contact Atlas Piers today by calling (770) 268-0369