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Foundation walls can be damaged by soil pressure. In some cases, the soil's weight is simply too great to be held back by the foundation wall. In other cases, soil with high clay content expands during wet weather, exerting additional pressure against foundation walls. Whatever the cause, there are several telltale signs of foundation wall damage.
How did this happen?
When the soil around your house becomes saturated with water from heavy rains or water leaks, the water exerts additional pressure against the walls.
In areas with cold winter climates, frost can put pressure on a wall and cause it to fail, especially if the basement is unheated. Frost forces can be extremely powerful and can even lift shallow foundations up out of the ground, causing significant damage to the home.
Expansive clay soil
Clay is a common soil type in many areas. It expands and contracts as the amount of moisture in the ground increases or decreases. When you see dirt with cracks at the surface during a dry spell, this is what you're actually seeing - clay soil shrinks when it gets dry. When it rains and the clay soil gets wet it expands. This increase in size puts a lot of pressure on your basement walls. When the pressure is more than the wall can handle, the wall begins to push inward.