Gettin Soggy With The Big Thaw

Home Inspector with DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector

Here in NE Ohio, It snowed 8 to 10 inches last week and was around 20 to 25 degrees.  Today it is 60 degrees with a major cold front coming around the corner in a few hours with rain changing to freezing rain.  Good time to see how well your gutters and down spouts work and how well your basement keeps the water out.  I wish you well if you live low and near a creek or river with 2 - 3 inches of rain forecast.

I have been out in Summit County hitting open houses, marketing and networking myself the past 4 weeks.  Great way to meet Realtors and pass out brochures.  I also took some time to take a look around the houses and focusing on the basement mostly.  I noticed that a lot of effort is being put into "Thorough Sealing" basement walls these days.  Must be the large inventory of property out there giving sellers the incentive to spend some effort on their homes to make them more appealing to prospective buyers.  I didn't see nearly this much effort a couple of years ago.

I also noticed a lot of mortar joint repairs.  A careful observation, and you can see that soil pressure and most likely water from the outside has bowed the foundation walls in.

This big thaw right now with heavy rains on the way will certainly test the sellers efforts on the foundation walls.  We shall see the outcome soon.

I have a question for the Home Inspectors out there.  If you observe foundation bowing inward (clearly soil pressure or drainage issues), newly tucked mortar joints and freshly painted/sealed walls and floors, how would you report this condition.  Clearly the seller is trying to improve the foundation walls and is putting in the effort to some degree.  Do you bust their bubble and reprtr this resent activity.

OH NO, here comes the rain!

Comments (12)

Jonelle Simons
Windermere Real Estate - Park City, UT
We're going to have a big problem here in the spring too... We've had a few minor thaws, and it's been a mess... But this year, we've had A LOT of snow, and the snowpack is above average for a lot of areas... Gonna be ugly when it all melts.  Major flooding in utah this spring!
Mar 03, 2008 09:36 AM
Steve Glose
Keller Williams Classic Group - Orlando, FL
TRC, CIPS, 407-616-7286, Orlando Real Estate, Orla
David, I sure don't miss that lousy weather one bit. Ive been if Florida for 24 years and love it.
Mar 03, 2008 09:54 AM
Joseph Lang
Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection - Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Home Inspector, Southern California
David, if I saw bowed walls with repairs done I would call it out just as that.  Recommend the buyer get any repair invoices and even possibly contact the contractor who repaired it to get their own words on what was done and what might be needed in the future.  Good post.
Mar 03, 2008 10:54 AM
Michael Reel
Integrity Home Inspections LLC - Parkersburg, WV

Good Post Dave,

I do not have the time this AM but tommorrow I will post a blog on Foundations as I have been taught and will provide a link to a real master in foundation analysis. He travels the country giving foundation seminars, "World of Concrete" NAHI, ASHI etc.

There are some pretty simple standards to follow and they prove to be generally true nationwide.

Blessing to you all,

Mike, Integrity Home Inspections WV


Mar 03, 2008 09:48 PM
Michael Reel
Integrity Home Inspections LLC - Parkersburg, WV

PS, I just got to thinking, this year in the Mid-Ohio Valley we experienced some excessive ground shrinkage because of the drought we had. We saw basement wall cracks in 30+ year old homes that had never seen movement before. Owners here were taking appropriate steps to maintain their homes which maybe explains the Thoroughseal/Drylok applications. Every circumstance is different and that is where the experience, experience, experience comes into play. BOTTOM line, I f you do not know, it is best to defer to a professional, there is no crime in not knowing. The ground fissures have hopefully closed by now and will prevent water entry. There are just so many facets to this inspection business. I am glad to have AR to share and to learn.

Blessings to All

Mike, Integrity Home Inspections WV

Mar 03, 2008 09:57 PM
Mark H. Roe
BeSure Home Inspection Service - Lancaster, OH
BeSure Home Inspection Service


 Like the above post, I would call it out asking for further evaluation. Good post.

Mar 06, 2008 12:24 AM
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector


When I see bowed in walls that have been remortared, caulked, or otherwise repaired (or disguised), I always mention it in the report, and depending on what I see, may recommend a structural engineer, or a foundation specialist to further evaluate.

Horizontally bowed in walls are mainly a product of A. Too much water draining toward the foundation, coupled with B. The freeze/thaw cycle. Water expansion and contraction is a very powerful force, and can easily bow in a wall of a basement foundation. As long as the freeze/thaw cycle continues, and the moisture is present next to the foundation, the wall will continue to get worse.

Removing the moisture source by providing adequate, and working drainage away from the foundation is the main answer to stop the damage from getting worse.

There is now a system of structural nylon straps that are epoxied to the interior of the basement walls, that is very effective at stopping the movement, and providing renewed strength to the compromised wall.

H. Kevin Corsa

H.I.S. Home Inspection

Mar 13, 2008 06:45 AM
Mark H. Roe
BeSure Home Inspection Service - Lancaster, OH
BeSure Home Inspection Service


  I just saw this type of system yesterday. Client stated that he was told that it was a cheaper and stronger way to repair the wall. I am not really sure about that. I think I will wait and see on that one. Thanks again for the post.

Mar 13, 2008 10:29 AM
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing ( - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

It's a good system, if the epoxy holds.  Try it.  Take five children's blocks and lay them on the floor next to each other.  Run scotch tape across the left side of the left block, across the top of the blocks, and down the right side of the right block.

Now stand them up.  Holding firmly down on the top block, push on the middle block on the side with the tape on it.  See the cracks open up.  Now push on the middle block on the side opposite the tape.

I wouldn't just off handed call for "further evaluation" ( I hate that phrase, that's what they hired us for).

I'd combine the advice above.  Get the repair invoices, talk with the contractor that did the work.  If that don't satisfy you, have a foundation contractor determine if any additional repairs are needed.

Apr 01, 2008 12:22 PM
Michael Reel

One should never say "Further Evaluation Recommended" without some explanation as to why it is recommended and what the issues are that prompted the statement. There should always be dialog with regard to the condition, we are giving "condition" reports. However there may be that unusual circumstance where, "if it doesn't look right it probably isn't" can come into play. Regardless of our experience there may be a condition that we cannot adequately explain. HENCE "becaus of ......... I recommend further evaluation".

Know your limits and do not exceed them.

Blessings to all, Mike Reel WV

Apr 02, 2008 12:21 AM
Gene Allen
Fathom Realty - Cary, NC
Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate
We don't have problems like that on a big scale as our weather here is quite mild.  Interesting to see problems in other parts of the country.
Apr 02, 2008 01:18 AM
David Holden
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector - Akron, OH
DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit
Gene, Thanks for commenting.  Here in NE Ohio, we get a fair amount of rain that can increase soil pressure on the foundation if it's not properly diverted away.  Then add the freeze/thaw effects of winter.  It can be very tough to keep your foundation from being severely damaged.
Apr 02, 2008 01:05 PM