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  1. #1
    frank johnson's Avatar
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    Default Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    My wife and I signed a purchase agreement on a house. We went to do a final inspection two days ago (closing is Wednesday). We found that all the paneling in the basement was badly warped and buckled. The realtor assured us that it was just humidtity and that a dehumidifier would solve the problem.

    I told him that I couldn't consider going through with the deal until at least some of the paneling was removed so that I could see behind it. The seller had one four foot section removed and I could see a crack in the mortar that I suspect may run completely along that wall. The crack by itself didn't bother me too much, but looking closer the wall appeared slightly bowed.

    I didn't have a level, but holding a straitedge at the bulge and eyeballing it, the block wall appears to be a good two inches out of plumb. The section I was able to look at was dry, and the crack appears to have been sealed at one time with silicone or something similar. My question is, should I be concerned? The realtor and the contractor sent by the seller to remove the paneling section said it was nothing to be concerned about, but I'm worried that I might have to spend ten or twenty thousand dollars to have it repaired someday.

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Any pics of the wall in question? Did you have a home inspection before purchasing the property? If not, you may be able to get an inspector or a structural engineer out there Tuesday or Wednesday prior to settlement.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Most of our foundations around here are poured concrete. But I still see quite a few block homes. In my experience, block is more porous and prone to water entry. Also, since you're dealing with many many blocks rather than one concrete wall there's more potential for deflection. Where you can begin to be concerned is when the cracks in the block run laterally, or horizontal. This would indicate a possible bowing in of the wall. These cracks are worth loosing sleep over.

    So the agent says you just need a humidifier - I'll assume that the agent is hoping for a commission payout if you buy the home. And the seller's contractor says everything is OK - how do you know that the contractor is unbiased - and did he put his okey dokey in writing with any sort of warranty? (I'll bet I know that answer to that)

    I have a feeling that the evaluations so far may not be in your best interest.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    If a crack is running horizontally midway up the entire length of a masonry block wall which is bulging out 2 inches there is defintely something going on with that wall that you want an expert opinion on prior to closing.


  5. #5
    frank johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Nick, sorry, I wasn't able to take any pictures, and I was only able to see one four foot section. The crack was horizontal about eighteen inches below ground level. At first the realtor and contactor insisted that the wall did not bow, but they relented after placing a straight edge against it. I seem to be cursed with a very sensitive eye for things that are out of square or out of plumb, or maybe nobody wants to admit that their handiwork isn't right.

    After I pointed out that the wall was a good two inches out of plumb, the contractor allowed that it might be an inch out plumb (I'm pretty sure that its about two inches.)

    Is two inches out of plum and a horizontal crack a big deal? I can't afford to guess wrong, this house will take most of our savings. I'm seriously considering forfeiting our earnest money and other expenses (title search, appraisal, etc) and walking.

    Last edited by frank johnson; 06-14-2010 at 08:04 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Frank. The situation you are describing does not sound condusive to your best interest....there is no harm done by bringing in a professional home inspector or engineer to give you an opinion on that wall prior to closing. I would also request that more of the paneling be removed.


  7. #7
    frank johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Robert, thanks for the suggestion. I may see if I can get someone to look at this. I'm just trying to weigh the odds and make sure I'm not throwing away good money after bad.

    I keep telling myself that if the paneling had not warped, I would have bought the house without ever having seen the block wall behind the paneling. We first looked at the house three weeks ago and the paneling was fine. Could humidity really warp paneling badly in that space of time? The paneling was nailed to 2x2's on 16" centers, no plywood or drywall behind it, only stryrofoam insulation between the 2x2's.

    The basement did not seem particulary damp to me and the paneling on an interior wall is fine warping is only on the exterior wall.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Quote Originally Posted by frank johnson View Post

    Is two inches out of plum and a horizontal crack a big deal? I can't afford to guess wrong, this house will take most of our savings. I'm seriously considering forfeiting our earnest money and other expenses (title search, appraisal, etc) and walking.
    Yes. Big deal. Not that it can't be repaired or corrected but if the wall is as out of plumb as described, it could run you $5,000+ to repair.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Ok, let's give the contractor his 1 inch. The wall has failed.

    So, how do you repair it? NOT by placing a couple of vertical beams floor to ceiling against the foundation. I've seen that approach fail. Might work with concrete foundation but not with block.

    1) go outside and excavate all the soil and pull the block back into plumb. Fill the block cores with concrete and rebar and then re-grade while making sure you correct for any hydrostatic (water) pressure problems that may occur due to lack of gutters, poor grading or expansive soil.
    or
    2) pour a new concrete foundation on the interior side of the block foundation to re-enforce it.

    Did someone already say that this can run into some money?

    Now. There is a new product which I have heard about that is suppose to be the cat's meow. It's some sort of fibrous tape material that is applied to the existing block to keep it from bowing in any further. For my money, I'd might consider it AFTER it has several years of tried and true field use behind it.

    Has anyone looked at the other foundation walls in this house?

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  10. #10
    frank johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Eric, I hate to admit it, but no, I have been so wrapped up in the warped paneling and the slightly bulging block wall, that I have not looked too closely at the rest of walls. There is a section of block wall that appears to have been coated completely in mortar. The realtor said that they had had some water come in there because of a missing downspout and that it had been fine since replacing the downspout. There is no visually noticeable bulging in this wall, though.

    Now I'm questioning why a 15 foot section, floor to ceiling, of block wall had to be completely coated with mortar. It looks kind of like stucco; you can't even tell it is cinderblock underneath.


  11. #11
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Quote Originally Posted by frank johnson View Post
    Nick, sorry, I wasn't able to take any pictures, and I was only able to see one four foot section. The crack was horizontal about eighteen inches below ground level. At first the realtor and contactor insisted that the wall did not bow, but they relented after placing a straight edge against it. I seem to be cursed with a very sensitive eye for things that are out of square or out of plumb, or maybe nobody wants to admit that their handiwork isn't right.

    After I pointed out that the wall was a good two inches out of plumb, the contractor allowed that it might be an inch out plumb (I'm pretty sure that its about two inches.)

    Is two inches out of plum and a horizontal crack a big deal? I can't afford to guess wrong, this house will take most of our savings. I'm seriously considering forfeiting our earnest money and other expenses (title search, appraisal, etc) and walking.
    Hopefully for your sake your agent put a low repair contingency in your purchase contract so you can walk without loosing your deposit. Around here the norm is $3500. If the repairs are over $3500 the buyer can walk with no penalty. I am not a lawyer or and RE agent so check with somebody else about what your rights are.


  12. #12
    frank johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    I appreciate the suggestion, James. I'll check into that.

    What a mess! If I do walk away from this I can't imagine ever looking at another house with a finished basement. I'll always be wondering, what's behind the finish?


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Frank,

    Get a foundation expert to look at it. The system here GRIP-TITEŽ Wall Anchor System Video is installed around the Twin Cities for about $450 per anchor. Anchors are set about 5 feet apart, so you can do a rough guess as to how much the repairs may cost.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Main culprits of basement walls bowing in,of cracks and subsequent leaks are lateral soil pressure,underground roots against the wall,concrete slabs against the wall and sometimes porch footings.....sure,there are others.

    ONLY means of reducing,lessening these causes are removing them on the outside....hand digging to footing,getting rid of the soil/often clay,getting rid of possible roots/concrete etc. Then waterproofing the wall,NOT damproofing and backfilling w/all gravel.

    Grip Tite Wall Anchors,carbon straps,beams etc on the inside without removing/lessening the exterior cause(s) is incompetent PLUS the fact there WILL be exterior crack(s) and cracked-deteriorated parging (if parging was applied when built,some don`t even have that on exterior).

    Here`s quite a few wall anchors that were installed WITHOUT telling the homeowner the exterior of the wall SHOULD have been waterproofed and backfilled correctly on the outside
    Picasa Web Albums - LeakyBasement - Basement Wate...#
    And see the deteriorated blocks,continued leaks,mold etc.
    Insta Dry here in MI did this,incompetent.

    Here`s same sort of shttt,inside system installed w/some beams......
    the CAUSES of the bowed walls and cracks,leaks are on the outside for Krist sake, wake up people.
    Picasa Web Albums - LeakyBasement - BasementWater...#

    Does Fairfax County VA here tell you to install Wall Anchors and an inside system (or patch wall etc on inside) OR, do they tell you to REMOVE clay etc on the outside and waterproof the wall and then backfill it w/gravel-sand
    Overcoming Problems with Marine Clays*- Fairfax County, Virginia
    --Scroll down to BASEMENT WALL DAMAGE,causes and resolutions.

    Even when there isn`t much-any clay on exterior the block wall(bowed) will have EXTERIOR cracks,cracked parging so it needs to be waterproofed,outside. And there may be underground root(s) etc against-the-wall.

    Amherst NY, quite a few homeowners have had bowed walls,cracked wall,leaks etc due to LATERAL SOIL PRESSURE.....see PHOTOS
    US Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District
    TOP left....photo shows an inside system was installed which did NOT relieve,remove,reduce ANY of the CAUSE and that STEP crack was left OPEN....on the OUTSIDE because inside system idiots install....inside systems! lol j kristmas.
    Top right photo.......ask again, what CAUSED the vertical crack and
    did injecting/patching the crack on inside help lessen,reduce the cause?
    No, hlll no.
    3rd photo......pilasters installed on inside.....didn`t relieve,reduce any lateral soil pressure.....ZERO. Just like wall anchors,beams etc.....the cause(s) are STILL against the wall AND AGAIN, with block walls there ARE exterior cracks etc that inside systems NEVER repair/waterproof,total incompetence.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    I am with Eric, what state are the other walls? While they may be fine, the likelihood exists that the other three walls could be failing. Personally I would want to remove wall coverings and or storage for a further look. Do you due diligence.

    As to cost I would also give yourself some leeway and would want two or three quotes before you waive your inspection clause in the purchase agreement.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    All due respect Mr Bob/video.......its obvious your not an expert on this subject,am sure your a good man etc etc....JUST like some home inspectors,city inspectors etc

    4th video on left,Basement Wall Failure and Repair
    home improvement videos
    Block wall, on the inside one can see at least 1 horizontal and 1 step crack....bowed in a bit.

    On the OUTSIDE of this wall there ARE cracks,OPEN cracks/defects and either loose-cracked parging or possibly no parging on block wall below grade.......got that? That is where water,insects,radon etc can enter.

    Leave them open? Install shtt on the inside and leave them open?
    There may be clay,silty soil on the outside/against the wall and possible underground roots from trees and nobody knows what else might have been backfilled against the wall....boulders,pieces of concrete,wood,bricks,blocks against-near the wall.

    Leave the likely causes of the cracks,bowed wall against-the-wall?
    Leave the exterior cracks/parging open?
    Build a buttress on INSIDE? Incompetent....and so too would be installing an inside system with or without beams,wall anchors etc.

    Owner of this house got scammed/lied to by B Dry....damn skippy.
    They installed an inside system years ago......still leaks and cracks are
    WIDENING and wall CONTINUES to bow in.......morons!
    Picasa Web Albums - LeakyBasement - Basement Wate...#
    NOW, she doesn`t have the money to get the work that has ALWAYS needed to be done.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    Ray baby says he agrees w/Eric.......right?

    Don`t see/read anything about WATERPROOFING the exterior of wall AND
    backfilling w/all gravel. Filling some/most of the cores DOESN`T waterproof the wall,you may THINK it does.......but it doesn`t......and then backfill with same shtt? lolol

    Ray, experience come from DOING-the-job.....and doing it correctly and friggin honestly for decades with no complaints,unlike many of your inside system buddies.

    Video-
    Here`s one, LIFETIME Guarantee eh? Blchtttttt. Bunch of fruit loops.
    http://www.indiananewscenter.com/news/83022467.html
    ....rip offs.....2nd family, concerns about water and crumbling walls


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Cinder block wall slightly out of plumb

    John baby..

    Save the sermons! I'm surprised you didn't tell the original poster that he will have to change his underwear when he finds out the cost of repair!


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