A Foundation Wall is a wall which rests on the footings of the foundation, and provides support for the weight of a house by transferring its load to the ground. Foundation walls are a critical part of the construction of a home as they may have to also resist pressure from large amounts of heavy soil against them. Foundation walls and slabs should also be designed to inhibit the entry of termites into the building, and to facilitate inspection for signs of termite workings.
Problems with the foundation wall will ultimately lead to problems with the house, up to and including complete structural failure.
A number of materials can be used to make a foundation wall. Poured concrete is a common and popular choice, with some contractors using modular walls which are actually poured off site and transported to a building site. Blocks, bricks, and stone can also be used. In all cases, the materials must be load bearing, and the wall needs to be designed and built so that the weight will be distributed evenly over the footings of the house.
One of the most common problems with foundation walls is cracking. Foundation cracks can be benign or serious, depending on the location of the crack, the size, and the direction of the crack. Cracks can appear because the wall was built in a hurry, backfilled before the concrete had a chance to cure, or not properly reinforced. Settling of the underlying ground can also result in cracking of the foundation, as can damage caused by impact to the foundation.
Foundation walls can be installed after a house is built, as seen when a house with a post and pier foundation is retrofitted. Likewise, damaged foundations can also be replaced. In both cases, the house is usually raised on jacks which support the weight of the house while the foundation work is done.