Concrete foundation issues can be grouped into two major problems type, displacement and leakage. Displacement is when cracks or movement occur due to external pressures placed upon the walls and floor by the wet expansive soil outside the home. Cracks in concrete walls are usually grouped in two categories, horizontal or vertical with horizontal usually being the more serious type. If a crack runs horizontal it is possible for the wall to bow inward and compromise the entire structure of the home. Most vertical cracks on the other hand are not as likely to shift under pressure but are often more likely to leak. If you have cracks in your foundation don’t be too alarmed as most foundations develop cracks. If you have large long cracks that have shifted or slipped it could be serious and you should have the issue looked at by a professional.
Most foundations in our area are constructed using pressure treated wood. There is a lot of controversy on this type of construction but I believe the science and proven track record have shown that these basements are here to stay. A wood basement has many advantages not the least of which is ease construction and modifications for vents, wires and even chimneys. The main issues we see with PWF construction is that they were not constructed properly and the pressure from wet clay soil often drove the wall inward. The wall should be properly blocked and strapped to withstand normal stress but two very common mistakes often cause problems in these walls. One issue is having an unsupported driveway next to the wall. This will apply extra pressure on the wall and cause it to bow. Once the wall gives a little the driveway usually settles in toward the home and creates a low spot where water pools making the problem worse over time. The second common problem is the lack of end blocking. End blocking is required to help distribute the load from the wall to the floor joists. Often times the end blocking is missed or removed by the different trades when the home is being built. Without the end blocking the wall moves quite easily. The movement often occurs during back fill or in the first couple of years after construction.